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Packaging design: illustration

Packaging design

Illustration is able to do the impossible for a product packaging. It can be used in both cases when a product is related either to the premium or to the low-cost segment. Illustration looks equally well on a cookie or toothpaste packaging. Children and adults are excited about it.

Univest Creative agency would like to prove the necessity of using an illustration on your packaging through real-world examples. Or disprove that. We will see how it goes.

Means of expression in packaging design with illustrations

1. Graphics!

There is a category of products that have a standard packaging, and its design was established many centuries ago. For instance, pizza. It is always delivered late in the night of starving (yes, we know that you do not eat after 6 pm) in a square flat box with a company’s logo. A huge and bright logo – just in case you forgot where you ordered this masterpiece.

A creative team Future from Mexico tells they were lucky to get such a client. &Pizza needs a new packaging? No problem! Let’s get inspired by street art, add some strange fonts and play with the construction. The result is impressive.

Trend graphics! Dynamic… no, turbulent illustrations accurately reflect the life of a big city.

Conclusion: a unique packaging design for pizza has distinguished &Pizza from their competitors. What did the graphics? Style. Together with the fonts and construction, the graphics became an organic part of urban esthetic.

2. Cartoons are not only for children.

While we are on the topic of guilty pleasures in the above paragraph… Raise your hands if you react on the drawn animals, bright colors, deliberately sweet presentation and other cute things! Next paragraph is entirely devoted to you.

Bright packaging for sweets! A sugar burst in your blood is clearly associated with intense colors, fictional characters and places, etc. In any case, the project of Brandiziac studio was right on point.

Conclusion: Indeed, the easiest solution for the doughnuts is to use a famous character. You use your product and create a round-bellied little man with a huge hole instead of a heart and voila!

Brandiziac saw fit to do something bigger. Today the small doughnut business in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy gladly hands out unusual packaging that will stay in the clients’ houses for a long time. As a result, it will strengthen the loyalty of the customers and raise brand awareness.

We will not stop at this example, since the graphics from this category can be even more concise, but still look very attractive.

Fox in Sox studio from Nizhniy Novgorod is offering you to improve your health in a pleasant company of fish, oranges and bees. For their project called Vitaminus Box, the guys put the vitamins in the boxes similar to a matchbox. Every packaging has a picture of an associative character – for example, an orange on Vitamin C package.

Conclusion: it is difficult to judge about commercial value of the project, as the concept was not implemented. Therefore, it is possible to evaluate it only from a visual point of view.

So what do we have? Concise and light color solution. A packaging draft that is non-standard and simple for future production. Illustration is a key element of packaging that at the same time serves as the identification of a product. Simple and tasteful!

3. Combine incompatible things.

A collage on packaging? Let’s talk after we examine the example.

This is what cider from a strict portfolio of wine-making company Wölffer Estate Vineyard looks like.

Elegant. Bohemian. With summer notes.

Cider is a light drink, so adventurous collage label is well-suited for it. A real advantage of this series is the fact that all collages have a central element around which a composition is created.

Whereas tea packaging made by d.studio from London is complemented by a collage illustration. Down with traditions and Counts! Let us salute rave colors and kettle people!

Conclusion: a collage works well for those who like to experiment. For those who want to develop a packaging design with a faint note of avant-garde. For those who are looking for something non-conventional for a product of the middle and low cost segment. In short, please collage to your heart’s content.

4. Handmade.

Illustrations with a deliberate lack of digital processing, created by hand, painted using oil, gouache, acryl, watercolor and afterwards used for packaging design – this is a popular technique and no less successful.

However, there are some projects when contemporary painting comes into play. Now I would recommend skipping this part if you are disgusted by insects. I am with you there, guys.

Exotic snacks require lux packaging. Chocolate and grasshoppers, cockroaches, flies (dried, of course) – such a concept was created by an artist Ghada Wali.

Oil illustration on the packaging – insects made of bright spots and dots.

Conclusion: we decided not to stop with just tender watercolor drawings and gouache illustrations. We chose this project to demonstrate the universality of this type of illustration. It would seem that a luxury product does not match a painted packaging. Nevertheless, modern techniques perfectly emphasize specificity of these snacks.

5. A shadow play.

Vancouver. Wine. Drama. Good ingredients for long-running American series. But today we talk about packaging design and the best ideas in this field. So…

Brandever agency created a design of the wine line for Play Estate Winery brand. Just look at these triangular labels. And how harmoniously those silhouettes of dancers and actors fit into the idea!

Conclusion: silhouette is a versatile solution. It does not matter whether you need a classy and luxury packaging or something cute and simple. It also does not matter if you create a product for children or marketers. Silhouette technique works successfully due to its minimalism and play with the shapes.

6. Use a construction

Now some inside information – there is a child living in all of us. This sweetie loves getting new toys. And this desire grows with every minute, therefore even a glass of coffee may become this toy.

It is better to explain what I mean saying that. I would not forgive myself if this article did not contain any concept of Backbone Branding studio. So, meet the “backbones” through their project called GAWATT emotions.

The packaging that makes you play a constructor game goes viral pretty fast. At the same time, the illustration helps to deliver the idea. Backbone Branding presented a toy for their customers. Spin the cup – drink coffee – cheer yourself up!

By the way, did you notice the illustration itself in a steampunk style?

Another project when the illustration allows to play with the cans right in a supermarket. Designer duet Magnificent Beard saved Texas beer Noble Rey Brewing Company from fierce competition.

Apart from obvious advantages, it is worth noting the unity of characters. Kings, pirate girls – the appearance of this “gang” on the shelves makes history!

Packaging for product line. Several illustrated solutions

The difficulty of using illustrations in a product line is that the materials should not only be suitable for a product, but also associate with each other.

Moxie Sozo agency created a line of beer labels for Crazy Mountain Brewing Company. We should say straight away that the characters on them are more than non-standard.

What is positive: the characters are connected through the main concept – combination of animal and human body parts. It means that bottles from the same series that are placed on different shelves in the shop are connected in the mind of a customer.

What is controversial: someone (for example, we) likes a bit shocking combinations similar to ancient people from the myths. For some customers it may not work out. Though it is a question to the company – they know better their target audience and its tastes.

Finally, we reached the winner of last year’s Dieline Awards – packaging design for cookies made by Together agency that was created for Fortnum & Mason.

Firstly, about the construction. The trunks shall always open and present innumerable treasures. In this case, the treasures are delicacies! Interior bronze-toned decoration of the trunk enhances the cookies inside.

Illustration work fell on the frail shoulders of Kate Larsen who decided to create the pictures of unseen lands on the trunks.

The portfolio of Univest Creative agency contains the project which involved packaging design development for a product line. American and Japanese food delivery service Ping-Pong contacted Univest Creative to develop a packaging for their product.

What is the complexity of this task? A new packaging for Ping-Pong have to associate with a product/cuisine and stand out from a competitive number of other delivery services. Not even to stand out, but to be remembered.

Bye to the templates – hello to graphic illustrations.

Who will develop a packaging design for your new product?

Designer or illustrator?

The vision of illustrator and designer on packaging is different. In most cases, the orders to create a painting and illustration for packaging are equal for an artist. Design approach is more complex and has the marketing basis.

Start of the work

  • Illustrator starts his work from a painting. He perceives a product emotionally and visualizes his understanding. Illustrator starts to work with a shape, colors, proportions and gradually approaches a final solution;
  • Designer starts his work with analysis. He studies the amount of work and target audience, evaluates the competitors and makes a decision based on his conclusions.


  • Illustrator seeks to use non-standard techniques and styles. It often plays into the hands of a client, as hand-made packaging design is still highly regarded. It gives some sense of craft, manual work, and exclusivity. On the other hand, non-conventional solutions cannot always be adapted for production and audience;
  • Designer works in the opposite way. He knows what can be done and what is better to refuse from. Along with this, not all designers are able to make risky decisions.

Customer vision

  • Illustrator conveys emotion to the customer;
  • Designer conveys information.

Conclusion: illustrators and designers are trained for different tasks. The best is to create a team of professional designers and creative illustrators. Designers see the problem in a comprehensive manner and structure the information. Illustrators give some flavor and charming to packaging, and solve the task unconventionally.

As for us, we have a staff of designers and work with illustrators at the same time. Come and check yourself!

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