Creating the Perfect Product Packaging with Adobe Dimension

Learn how Dimension made designer John Godfrey’s job simpler and so much faster.

Queens Hot Sauce bottles.

John Godfrey is a graphic designer and art director with over 13 years of experience in a wide variety of work including product packaging. John finds that typically when a packaging design is finished, the client goes about things on their own, and there’s no guarantee that the client will shoot, or that he’ll receive, any product photos worthy of his portfolio. He often finds himself trying to create a mockup in Photoshop for future presentation. With Adobe Dimension, John found a new set of tools to make designing 3D mockups much easier and less time consuming, giving him just the images he needed to better promote his design talents.

“For someone with limited 3D design knowledge like me, I find Photoshop is only useful when stuff is super flat and boxy,” John says. “When you start dealing with bottles and anything round — items where you have distortion around the edges — it becomes difficult to get a realistic look.”

This means that sometimes packaging designs simply didn’t make it into John’s portfolio. “I don’t want to put something out that looks substandard,” John says. All of this has changed thanks to Dimension. Download Adobe Dimension and try it for yourself.

John decided to try Dimension out of sheer curiosity when it appeared in his list of available Creative Cloud apps as the beta version, “Project Felix.” “By the end of the day, I had a grasp on what it was and how I could use it working with a camera, lights, image-based lighting, and fooling around with materials,” John says. “Packaging design for Queen’s Hot Sauce is a project I recently completed, so it was something I knew I really wanted to get in my portfolio quickly. It was my first Dimension project.”

3D rendering of two Queen's Hot Sauce bottles.

3D rendering of Queen’s Hot Sauce created in Adobe Dimension. Image credited to John Godfrey.

Using Dimension, John tried out different types of glass for the bottle, then adjusted the lighting and easily set up the images he wanted. “Since this was my first time using the application, there was an element of trial and error,” John says. “But I got a lot of help from the tooltips in the application itself on how to tweak the image to look exactly the way I wanted it.”

This particular product mock-up presented a unique challenge because of the material within the glass bottle — hot sauce. “Hot sauce isn’t like orange soda. It’s opaque, and it’s got texture. I ended up referencing pictures of spilled hot sauce and building that texture in Photoshop. I then brought it into Dimension and filled my bottle,” John says. He imported a solid glass 3D model into Dimension that contained a separate model for liquid inside of it. By manipulating the inner liquid model, he was able to “fill” the glass bottle with hot sauce.

Since John started using Dimension when it was still in beta as “Project Felix.” He’s been able to watch the program grow and develop into the application that it is today.

“A lot of the stuff I wished existed as I used beta versions of Project Felix came around in the final version of Dimension,”John says. “A big aspect to realistic images for me is the depth of field. It’s that recognizable blur that happens in photos when you have multiple objects and the one in front is clearly focused, while those in the background are slightly fuzzy. Now, the tools to make this happen are there and it works great. You can tell the creators of Dimension really listened to what users wanted and needed.”

One of John’s favorite tools in Dimension is the “place graphic as decal” tool. It allows you to place a graphic, such as a logo design or an image, on the surface of a 3D model so that it wraps to the object realistically, without the need to “fake it” in Photoshop.

3D rendering of three Friendly Stranger wine bottles.

3D rendering of Friendly Stranger wine bottle created in Adobe Dimension. Image credited to John Godfrey.

Some of the other tools John finds particularly helpful in his workflow are the ability to specify depth of field and the fact that when you export a Photoshop file, it comes with easily editable render layers. This makes editing in Photoshop easier since the focus objects are rendered on separate layers than the background and other objects. It also maintains the integrity of filters on different objects from one iteration to the next.

Render layers.

Render layers make it easy to edit designs in Photoshop as different render passes are exported as individual layers in your PSD.

All of these tools work together to create photorealistic 3D renderings in a fraction of the time it would take in 3D design software. “The very first time I used Dimension, I had something usable in a day,” John says. “And then it just came down to making sure I got the angles I wanted. There are so many iterations!”

3D rendering of 2Kids Brewing Co. labels.

3D rendering of 2Kids Brewing Co. labels created in Adobe Dimension. Image credited to John Godfrey.

Dimension is a 3D compositing app made for designers of all skill sets. You can use 3D models from a variety of sources — whether from your own designs or from ready-made templates in the program, in Adobe Stock, or from other 3D marketplaces.

“In the past when I tried to use other 3D software, it was total information overload,” John says. “I’m not the user they’re after. I’m an in-between — a designer who needs to use 3D elements, but doesn’t really use 3D-modeling software. When I started with Dimension, I thought it would be a comfortable way for me to start with 3D because I’m familiar with the rest of Adobe’s creative products. And I was right. I think it’s not how familiar you are with 3D, but how well you are acquainted with the Adobe suite of products that makes Dimension so accessible. It’s very similar to using other software in the suite.”

Dimension is made with this “in-betweener” in mind. Designing in 3D can feel intimidating if you’re inexperienced, but Dimension is the perfect solution for working with existing 3D images and developing your 3D design skills. If you’re like John, it might be the exact solution you need for simpler, faster realistic mockups to present your work to existing and prospective clients.

Download Adobe Dimension and to try a packaging mockup for yourself. Share your own designs on Behance and social media using the hashtag #adobedimension. __