Dealing with Distortion in Packaging

As you read this, the Creative Edge team has begun its two-week marathon at the world’s largest trade event for the graphics arts industries: drupa 2016. Whenever this many players gather in one place, there will be dubious claims mixed in with the valid ones. The trick is to “undistort” the surface-level appearance, and get a clear view of all the facts. Dealing with distortion in packaging is more than a metaphor, however.

One of the more notable features of our iC3D offering is something called SmartShrink™ technology. This lets a designer apply and visualize 2D Illustrator artwork on a 3D packaging model in real time. It also “undistorts” the final artwork—compensating for the natural properties of printed shrink wrap.

This elegant bit of reverse engineering removes much of the uncertainty generated when a great idea (digital 3D modelling) runs up against the real world. In this case, it’s the frustrating nature of printing on a flexible surface. For many packaging brand owners, it removes the anxiety over (let’s say) a legally-required Nutritional Ingredients summary being unreadable because it was printed on an unstable surface.

Competitive packaging technologies make similar claims, of course, but very often resort to a different type of distortion—words. In that case, the “undistort” capability is not software, but the hard realities of testing a product in the real world. As the drupa experience will bear out, we’ve been in the marketing “undistort” process—against some formidable companies—for quite a while.

Enlarging the metaphor still further, brand managers and their allies are constantly trying to present a clear, compelling picture of their goods and services—often against unfair distortions by their competitors.

Clear messaging has many elements, not the least of which is visual imagery. For most of our history, we’ve been doing this for packaging itself—helping brand owners more quickly turn their design ideas into effective mini-billboards on the store shelf. Now, we’ve entered yet another phase: creating photo-realistic images for advertisements and signage.

We’re certainly not finished yet, but we’re proud of our role in creating more distortion-free visualization for brand packaging and communication. Stop by and see us in Düsseldorf to find out more.