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More than just a pretty picture. Why high-quality renderings are essential.

High quality package renderings have always been essential for anyone communicating a packaging design idea to Costco. Renderings have evolved and are no longer just pretty pictures. When done properly, renderings are also extremely accurate to the final packaging. This creates an amazing ability to check even the smallest structural and graphics details.

High-End Rendering --- Not a photo!!

High quality renderings play an essential part of the design process. Indistinguishable from photographs, renderings allow to you bring your feature pallet display to life well before any physical samples are cut or printed. This saves money and more importantly, time.

Do not skip renderings or settle with low quality.

Renderings which appear to have the package already completed, always improves confidence the package can be executed and make a compelling presentation.

We recently asked a leading product representation firm what they see as the largest misconceptions their customers have about the packaging design process for Costco and the answers were clear:

  • The Pallet Rendering process.

  • Vendors trying to fit standard packaging into a pallet, instead of working to design packaging that fits the pallet from the start.

Now it's easy to see the value of full-scale, dimensionally accurate, renderings when designing Feature Pallet displays from the start. Helps me sleep at night above anything else.

Let's talk about the pallet rendering process in a little more detail:

  • Render your product: Don't skip here. Your product is the hero and photo realistic detail counts.

  • Know your material thicknesses: Yes, corrugate has thickness and its more than you planned for! Earmark 0.125" for every fold and roll on your trays. Even if your Tray design doesn't have an air-cell (for stacking, which it should; more on that later)--they add up!

  • Work with a professional-- no psudo-3D renderings, please. Adobe Illustrator is not a rendering program.


The Costco Packaging guys sat down with Chuck Godfrey, of Berkley, to document (a very technical) approach to the Rendering process. Read at your own risk:


- Retail Setting

- Desired product load range for the pallet display

- Product Dimensions

- Product Sample(s)

- Type of vehicle: Trays (with handholds), stacked boxes, layer trays, etc

- Sides Shoppable: One, two, three or four

- Interactive/Demo/Sample Unit(s)?

- Artwork: Product, Packaging, Logos, Lifestyle Photos, Images, etc

Layout of the Pallet Display (Illustrator):

- Create, or provided, layout of the display.

3D Modeling (Form-Z &/or SolidWorks):

- Create detailed 3D model(s) of all parts of the display: product(s), packaging, trays, inserts, fillers, etc

- Export all models, in situ, into .STP file format.

Rendering Engine (KeyShot):

- Import 3D Model (.STP file)

- Setup rendering environment (HDRI)

- Create Ground Plane & associated material qualities

- Create Background per scenario (can included Photoshop)

- Apply materials, custom maps*, labels*, etc, to 3D models

- Duplicate object groups (as needed)

- Import scenery objects from archive

- Establish image settings

- Duplicate objects & eliminate duplicate maps

- Create image composition & lens settings

- Adjust HDRI and setup up fill lights

- Setup render process settings

- Output to rendering farm for processing/rasterization

Image Manipulation (Photoshop):

- *Custom Maps: Create all images for custom maps, labels, etc, needed for rendering

- Once output is completed from Rendering Engine (KeyShot), Layers & Passes are combined to greatly improve image quality

- Completed render is placed in Adobe Illustrator: Berkley branding, call outs, Title Block, etc

- Output to .PDF file format

PDF file Refinement (Adobe Acrobat Pro):

- Initial view is set

- PDF file compressed if necessary


Even without a camera, a picture is still worth a thousand words.



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