Packaging Design course at Sessions College

Packaging Design

3 credits

DES 208: Packaging Design

Designs that stand out on a crowded shelf

What makes a product stand out on a crowded shelf? What makes it attract the eye—excite, inform, and appeal, motivating customers to buy? In this online packaging design course, you'll learn the art and craft of package design, studying with a seasoned pro. Working from detailed briefs, you'll design packages for a wide variety of projects, clients, and customers. Key course concepts will include seeing and designing in three dimensions, mass vs. prestige design, and new product launches. Portfolio projects range from pizza store boxes to champagne and fragrance cartons.

Creativity in packaging design by student Donek Morton

Course At A Glance

Course Features

  • 100% online
  • Project-based
  • Instructor-led
  • Credit-bearing: 3 Credits
  • Classes start January, April, and August


The course is taught by the following instructor(s):

Course developed by: Laura Schwamb

Take this course as a standalone or as part of the following program(s):

Course Projects

    1. Seeing in 3D

      Package design requires you to see and design in a whole new way—in three dimensions. In this lesson, you'll learn about foundation types of 3D packaging and important design principles for create effective packages, including product type, composition, visibility, consistency, shape, and audience. Store presentation concepts such as placement and counter animation are addressed. You will also be introduced to the production of 3D designs: printing, labeling, and the creation of mechanicals.

    2. Mass vs. Prestige

      Target audiences are many and diverse, but a basic level, all product packaging is targeted for either mass or prestige audiences. Lesson Two explores the design, budgetary, and production choices of designing for mass or prestige audiences. Case studies from beauty and cosmetics industry illustrate how packaging designs communicate value or value-for-money, and exclusivity or accessibility. You'll take a field trip to identify some mass and prestige packaging as well as study counter animation.

    3. Tangible Visual Marketing

      Lesson Three discusses the role of target markets in creating packaging designs. You'll look at how demographics are collected and how to use and go beyond marketing data to target your package designs. Examples and case studies explore how very specific marketing briefs can translate into design choices.

    4. Playful Design

      A whimsical, fun, or simply unexpected design can attract consumers to your product package and make a memorable statement. In this lesson, you will learn how and when to infuse your package designs with playful, lively visuals. Case studies will open your eyes to some of the most fun packaging around.

    5. Branding Product Lines

      Most products don't just stand alone. Typically, a package design is part of an entire product line which has an established brand and a visual style all of its own. This lesson examines how product lines are branded, expanded, and kept consistent. You will study which components are variable so that each product in the line is unique.

    6. Launching a New Product Design

      There is no greater thrill than seeing your package design creation available to the masses. But before your designs hit the shelves, you must pitch your hard work to the client. Lesson Six wraps up the course with a look at making powerful presentations, and the revisions you can expect to make along the way to a packaging design project. An industry case study explores an entire new product design from concept to launch. For your final project, you will design, present, and "launch" a perfume box and bottle design.

Sample Student Work

by Monica Griffen

Course Outcomes

What Are The Course Projects?

Make your portfolio stand out with creative projects including restaurant identity items, high and low end cosmetics packaging, album art, toy packaging, and a champagne line.

What Software or Supplies Do I Need?
  • Computer with Internet connection.
  • Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Basic experience in the above software.
What Will I Learn?

Students in this course can expect to learn to:

  • Identify the key elements of a packaging composition including placement, product, and audience.
  • Design a pizza box and carry-out bag in a single ink color.
  • Identify the production, design, and budgetary differences between mass and prestige packaging designs.
  • Create flat and 3D versions of a prestige carton, and present a sample counter animation.
  • Develop an understanding of the ways in which marketing research, target audiences, and user profiles affect the packaging design process.
  • Design a CD cover and disc according to audience and project brief information.
  • Develop an understanding of how playful packaging design is created through typography, balance, color, and other attributes.
  • Design a playful packaging design for a toy carton.
  • Understand and discuss how a product line is developed, updated, and expanded.
  • Create two designs for a premium champagne carton working from a client brief.
  • Develop an understanding of methods for presenting packaging designs to a client and launching a new design.
  • Create a carton and bottle design for the launch of a new fragrance.

Getting Started

Course Registration

  • Classes start January, April, and August
  • 3 Credit Course
  • Project-Based: Exercises, Discussions, and Critiques

Course Tuition and Fees
Registration Fee* $200
Total Course Price $1730

Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for course content.

Course Registration Form

To register for this course, use the form below to enter your information and desired start date. An Admissions Advisor will contact you to arrange payment and provide you with an Enrollment Agreement.

PD: Course Registration

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What Are The Courses Like?

Our courses are project-based. In each course you’ll enjoy a series of lectures, projects, discussions, and critiques designed to stretch your creative skills, earning college credit for your completed course.

How Much Time Do I Need?

Classes start January, April, and August, and this course can be completed in a 15-week term. College credit from this course can be applied to a range of degree and certificate level programs at Sessions College.

Who Are The Instructors?

Our courses are developed and taught by our faculty of professional artists, designers, and photographers. This means that you’ll learn in-demand skills, get feedback on your work, and build a portfolio of creative work.

Is Sessions College accredited?

Yes. Since 2001, Sessions College has been accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The Distance Education Accrediting Commission is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a recognized accrediting agency and is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).