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ART 446
Packaging Design

Prerequisite: ART 344.
Designing for product containers, identification graphics, product line packaging and related displays. Coordination of the fundamental elements of packaging such as typography, color, imagery and package structure. Available for graduate credit.

6 hours lab.

Art Department Mission

The CSUN Art Department is committed to teaching students to experience and value visual thinking and creative problem solving in art, as we as recognize the concurrent importance of perception, experimentation, innovation, and critical thinking. We encourage students to understand the history and traditions of art with their relevance to social and community concerns as well as the art of different cultures. Students are also encouraged to utilize and interact with the services, facilities and technologies offered throughout the University as well as those provided by the Art Department.

Program Outcomes:
Communication • Creativity • Critical Thought
Social Responsibility • Multidisciplinary • Ethical Practice

DEPARTMENT Learning Outcomes

  • Students will acquire competent knowledge and skills in various art media, concepts and methodologies.
  • Students will produce a competent body of individual and collaborative work suitable for a liberal arts degree, for the local, national and global marketplace.
  • Students will solve visual problems at a competent level, including understanding/application of the elements of art and principles of design.
  • Students will utilize and apply critical thinking skills to communicate ideas for their intended audience at a competent level in visual, oral, and written formats.

Course Learning Outcomes

  • Acquire knowledge about design and production of packaging for consumers.
  • Demonstrate advanced visual design principles specific to packaging design and branding.
  • Apply appropriate industry-standard tools, software, hardware and accompanying techniques as they relate to packaging design and branding.
  • Utilize principles of user research, visual design, branding and prototyping for the purpose of creating effective packaging solutions.
  • Prepare students for a leadership track in the creative field of packaging design and branding.

Course Materials and Software

You will need to purchase the following tools if you do not already own them. You will also be required to have the means necessary to produce/present your work. Design courses rely on software and file management.

  • Adobe Creative Cloud with Photoshop (PS), Illustrator (AI), and Adobe Dimension (Dn)
  • Google Suite – Drive, Slides, and JamBoard
  • Sketchbooks + PostIts
  • Metal Ruler
  • X-acto Knife and blades
  • Spray adhesive – Super77
  • Double Sided Tape
  • Poster board
  • Ability to print 11 x 17 documents or larger
  • other materials as needed per project

As you already may be aware, the Mac and its software are the main tools for the execution of graphic design. Lab-time is not regulated, but it is up to you to get as much experience using the computer. The majority of the work in this class will be completed on the computer, but be aware that the computer is just a tool and that fundamentals and concepts are what we are emphasizing in this course. “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept”. It is your responsibility to always keep your files backed up and organized.

Attendance and Final Exam

Studio/lab classes, such as this, take into consideration the entire learning and work-habit process as well as required assignments. Attendance is mandatory in this class. Demonstrations and critiques will not be repeated.

Students have 3 excused absences during the semester. Reasons for absences beyond 3 must be in writing (with a doctor’s signed note or other official paperwork, such as jury duty).

Students are responsible for contacting the instructor regarding absences. Expected late arrivals or early leave from class with no contact with the instructor is interpreted as unexcused.

Each student is expected to stay the full length of the class from beginning to end. Do not miss class on days that projects/exercises are due because of unfinished projects. It is important you still receive information on those days. It is your responsibility to get missed information due to absences or tardiness.


  • Students are expected to devote at least 3 hours of work outside of class per week to their course work.
  • Students are responsible for missed information on days of their absence or tardiness.
  • Speak with the instructor if there are any issues that deal with the projects.
  • The instructor will give additional feedback, explanations, and suggestions if it is needed.
  • A show of respect and helpfulness to fellow students is to be demonstrated.
  • Work must be finished and ready to present for viewing at the beginning of class on critique days.
  • Submission of a PDF containing all student work will be required at the end of the semester.

I will take attendance during the first 5 minutes of class. If you arrive late, please notify the instructor. If you are late continually it will affect your overall final grade significantly. If you are late on the day of a final critique for a project, you will not be allowed to present your work and you will receive zero points for presentation.

The University gives the authorization to lower grades for poor attendance and tardiness at the instructor’s discretion.

An incomplete is only given if the student has completed the majority of the coursework and cannot complete the remainder of the course due to a reason beyond their control.

You are required to meet at the posted exam time for this class. Please make a note of it at this time.

ZOOM Etiquette:

  • Please turn on your cameras, if possible.
  • Turn off your microphone at all times unless addressing the class.
  • Keep the chat clean.
  • I prefer live questions, don’t hesitate to turn on your mic and raise your hand. Treat it like an in-person class, especially during discussions and critiques.
  • Make sure you are ready to answer when called on.
  • Treat your classmates with respect. Collaborate and communicate with them in class and during breakout sessions.


Grading and Evaluation

Students will be evaluated on the basis of:

  • Projects – visual design, research, and presentation
  • Class participation, interaction, and discussion
  • Evidence of initiative, creative, and imaginative responses
  • Attendance
  • Quizzes and/or written assignments

Feel free to ask me about your grades and attendance totals at any time. There is a possibility of quizzes and writing assignments during the semester. Extra credit assignments and events will be assigned.

Sample project final point breakdown:
80 pts possible per final project
• Concept – Innovative Exploration 20pts
• Design Execution – Layout/Branding 20pts
• Craft – Mockup or Rendering Quality 20pts
• Pitch – Presentation 20pts

A note on points and deductions:

20 points
Executed at an extremely high level. Very little to no edits. Appears a lot of effort went into the design, execution, or research.

18 points
Well executed, but requires some refinement. Conceptually well developed.

16 points
Requires more refinement, but concept and execution is clear. Can envision a viable solution once refined.

14 points
Average levels of execution. Requires more effort or time. Needs refinement, research, and more exploration in type/layout/color

12 points
Below average level of execution and submitted with little effort. Will require a lot of refinement.

10 points
Submitted but lacks elements to move forward.

8 points and below
Submitted with clearly minimal effort. Lacks concept or execution at a level that is acceptable. Requires excessive refinement, research, and more graphical exploration.


If you plan on being absent make sure to make arrangements to turn in the work earlier or on that day for partial credit. Project improvements can be made, but not to improve your grade. What you turn in the day it is due is what will be graded. This is an upper division class and there are no exceptions.

A few notes on this on project due dates:

  • Turning in something on the day it is due is almost always better than turning in nothing at all or turning it in late.
  • If something is due and you have nothing, show up anyway as participation with others IS PART OF YOUR GRADE.
  • If you come late the day a final project is due for presentation, you will NOT be able to present your work and you will receive 0 points in the presentation portion of your grade.

Team-work/Collaboration Outside the Classroom

Some of the projects in this class are team based and require collaboration. Team meetings are not regulated, but it is up to you and your team to get as much time to work together.If there are any issues with team collaboration, do not hesitate to let the instructor know so they can be addressed early in the process.


Week 1
Introductions. Defining Packaging + Branding.
Careers and expectations. Cube Project.

Week 2
Cube Demo. Mock-ups.
Project 1: Kick-off

Week 3
Project 1: Research + Mood boards
Cube Due

Week 4
Project 1: Visual Branding System + Comps

Week 5
Project 1: Prototypes + Variants
Project 2: Kick-off

Week 6
Project 2: Research + Mood boards
Project 1: Critique

Week 7
Project 2: Sketches + Styles

Week 8
Portfolio Lecture
Project 2: Rendering/Mock Up Demo

Week 9
Project 2: Lab
Project 3: Sustainable Packaging Concepts

Week 10
Project 3: Team Development

Week 11
Project 3: Guest Speaker – Sustainability
Project 2: Critique 

Week 12
Project 3: Research + Project Proposal

Week 13
Project 3: Team Development

Week 14
Project 3: Team Development

Week 15
Project 3: Team Presentations

Results + Winners

Cube Exercise

This project allows students to understand die lines, bleeds, 3-D concepts, mock-up, printing, and production concepts. 

2 weeks

Project 1: Food + Beverage

Students will design and develop a packaging system for a grocery store product and their variants. 

6 weeks.

Project 2: Health + Beauty

Students will work to rebrand a series of health and beauty products. Emphasis will be on rendering 3-D forms.

5 Weeks.

Project 3: Sustainable Packaging Design

Students in teams will conceptualize and develop an innovative approach to consumer products with sustainable design methods and processes in mind. Emphasis will be on research, feasibility, materials, and prototypes which will conclude in a new business pitch deck for presentation to a panel. 

5 Weeks.

Academic Honesty and Miscellaneous

Definitions of Academic Honesty:
CHEATING is the act or attempted act of deception by which a student seeks to misrepresent that he/she has mastered information on an academic exercise that he/she has not mastered.

FABRICATION is the use of invented information or the falsification of research or other findings in an academic exercise.

FACILITATING ACADEMIC DISHONESTY is intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty.

PLAGIARISM is the submission of another’s work as one’s own, without adequate attribution. When a student submits work for credit that includes the words, ideas or data of others, the source of the information must be acknowledged through complete, accurate, and specific references, and, if verbatim statements are included, through quotation marks or indentation as appropriate.

I. Don’t be shy about experimentation. I will be looking for ideas and projects that push the limits.

II. Always talk to me if there are any issues that deal with the projects. I will give you feedback, explanations, suggestions, etc. Do not be afraid to run any concept or idea by me. I want to encourage creativity and experimentation as long as you understand the fundamentals.

III. This class is intended to serve your needs. Learning requires active participation. If you have personal suggestions or requests, please do not hesitate to address them.

IV. Do not to use the computers, scanners, and printers for other class projects or work on any other projects during class time other than our own.

V. Food and drink are prohibited in computer labs.

VI. Show respect and be helpful to your fellow students. Have your work done and be present when we view the class work. Help each other in the lab. Remember, the person you help today might return the favor in the working world. Start creating your contacts now.

VII. Participate in SAGA (Student Advertising Graphics Association) here at CSUN and AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Los Angeles Chapter events. Begin to immerse yourself in the industry. It will help you greatly.

Special Needs:
Students with disabilities must register with the Center on Disabilities and complete a services agreement each semester. Staff within the Center will verify the existence of a disability based on the documentation provided and approved accommodations. Students who are approved for test-taking accommodations must provide an Alternative Testing Form to their faculty member signed by a counselor in the Center on Disabilities prior to making testing arrangements. The Center on Disabilities is located in Bayramian Hall, room 110. Staff can be reached at 818.677.2684.