Top AI Tools for Packaging Design
4/4/2024

AI tools and software are being introduced into a wide range of industries, including the $1.1 trillion USD packaging industry. The topic of AI evokes mixed feelings among professionals and consumers, but there is one thing that is certain—AI is here and here to stay.

Tools including Canva, Fotor, MidJourney, and more enable designers, marketers, and entrepreneurs to create effective, data-driven packaging ideas and designs. AI is not a tool that should be used in isolation; it should help guide the creative process but not hijack it.

Join us as we explore an array of tools for implementing AI into your packaging design workflow.

AI Tools to Aid in Packaging Design

Midjourney

Midjourney is an artificial intelligence system designed by a San Francisco-based research lab. The program is run by text input prompts, and the images are generated based on the inputs. Users, who access the platform through a Discord account, enter a chat room to generate images.

Midjourney can be an effective tool in the ideation and brainstorming stage of the packaging design process. For example, if your brand is looking to redesign a packaging system with new brand colors, Midjourney can generate mockups to kick off the creative process.

Midjourney has a number of subscription opportunities, ranging from $10 USD a month for Midjourney basic to $120 USD a month for Midjourney Mega.

To use Midjourney, you have to create a Discord account and subscribe to one of the plans linked above. Once you have access, you must join a channel (newbies), and then you can start generating images in seconds. In order to enter a text to image prompt, you must type "/imagine" and then your desired prompt.

For the sake of this blog, we will focus on the prompt: "innovative orange juice packaging." Here is an example of what was generated from Midjourney.

Midjourney lets you make different versions from one prompt, which you can customize by choosing U1, U2, U3, or U4. The image above was created by selecting U4 from the initial prompt (See first image in blog) and then selecting "V4," which created 4 new variations similar to the original U4.

Additionally, Midjourney does not seem overwhelmed by lengthy text prompts. Looking to breathe some new life into my packaging design skills, I decided to try a long text prompt to see how the tool responded. I entered the following prompt: 

/imagine [innovative and sustainable orange juice packaging made of orange peels]

As with all Midjourney prompts, it produced 4 examples in under a minute; the following image was one of my favorites.

Midjourney is a powerful tool to generate creative mockups for packaging designs. While it is the most complex tool to use of the five covered in this article, it is also fairly easy to figure out after spending some time on the platform.

Fotor AI

Fotor is an AI tool designed to aid in the product design and development process, providing a user-friendly platform to generate an array of innovative packaging designs in seconds.

I decided to explore Fotor's platform and run a quick test on its effectiveness in generating clear and relevant images from text-based prompts. As you can see in the picture above, you type a text-based input in the top left—I entered "innovative orange juice packaging"—and images are generated in the middle section, with all images archived on the right.

In the free version, you are allotted credits to explore the platform (each query generating 2 images costs 2 credits). I found Fotor a user-friendly option and a great way to explore how AI can aid in your packaging development process.

Look below to see the image generated in just seconds with the simple prompt: "innovative orange juice packaging."

Fotor includes a number of pricing plans including a free version (which I used for the design above) and Fotor Pro and Fotor Pro+ versions, priced at $3.33 USD a month and $7.49 USD a month, respectively.

Canva Magic Studio Text to Image Software

Canva's Magic Studio has a number of accessible and efficient AI tools for designers. From software that transforms text to images and videos to writing tools, Canva Magic Studio is a great place to start when looking into how AI can help assist your packaging design process.

For the sake of packaging design inspiration, I decided to explore Canva's Text to Image feature and use the same prompt I used for the Fotor test:

"innovative orange juice packaging"

Canva generated 4 designs in less than a minute—it also provides an option to generate again if you are not happy with the output. Each query generates 4 images to choose from. Similar to Fotor, Canva's Text to Image AI tool in their Magic Studio suite is a great tool to begin incorporating AI into your packaging design workflow.

You can access Canva's AI tools through the free version of Canva, making it an easy option to explore if your team already includes Canva in your day-to-day marketing and content creation.

Adobe Express Generative AI (Text to Image)

Similar to Canva, Adobe Express has a number of generative AI tools from Text to Image to Generative Fill to Text to Template, and more.

The Adobe Text to Image tool is quite similar to that of Canva, although Adobe's tool has more stylistic customization. As you can see in the image above, once you input the prompt, you can choose "Content Type" ranging from the following:

  • None

  • Photo (as pictured above)

  • Graphic

  • Art

Additionally, Adobe's tool allows one to choose from an array of styles including chaotic, digital art, synthwave, and more. One interesting component that relates to packaging design is the ability to choose material type! For example, you can choose from options like layered paper, metal, fabric, and more.

This aspect in particular differentiates Adobe from other options explored in this blog, allowing packaging designers to envision how different materials can come together as unique designs in seconds. Interested in a multi-material packaging system? Adobe allows you to choose a number of different materials and combine them in prompts, leading to interesting and insightful design mockups.

To stay on theme, I decided to run the same prompt—"innovative orange juice packaging"—on Adobe's tool. The results were funky and fun, which makes sense as Adobe is one of the premier digital art tools available on the market.

The image below is one of the outputs to the prompt. Due to Adobe's "art focus," I would recommend diving into the prompt options and focusing on "Photo" (as compared to "Graphic" or "Art") and exploring how you can input different material types.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to test the limits of this tool—inputting some of the parameters I mentioned above. Let's say I am a packaging designer tasked with helping generate ideas / mockups for an innovative orange juice packaging system made primarily of metal that taps into nostalgia marketing trends.

Here is the output when using the same text prompt—"innovative orange juice packaging"—but also selecting "Metal" as "Materials" in the Styles section, and selecting "Nostalgic" in "Concepts" in the Styles section. The image below was generated amongst a number of others.

For a free tool (tied to an Adobe account), Text to Image generator gets the creative wheels spinning, but for more complex prompts like the one tried above, I would recommend a tool like Midjourney or DALL-E.

Access to Adobe's suite of generative AI tools, including but not limited to Text to Image generator, is granted through a subscription to Adobe. Similar to Canva, the fact that a lot of firms already use these tools, it can be a seamless way to explore how AI can help aid in the packaging design process.

DALL-E 3 (GPT-4)

DALL-E 3 is a version of GPT-4 that allows users to generate images or update existing images from text. DALL-E 3 is user friendly and part of OpenAI's suite of AI tools.

The system was created using deep and machine learning processes and focuses on "relationships between objects." DALL-E 3 can also take an existing or generated image and create a number of variations, adding a number of options for packaging design inspiration.

Once again, I chose "innovative orange juice packaging" as the test prompt on
DALL-E 3’s platform. The image below is one of many generated from the prompt, and as you can see, the results were certainly innovative.

Similar to Midjourney, an input into the tool generates 4 images and allows the user to take further action to transform the generated images. DALL-E 3 is more user friendly than Midjourney, but I found Midjourney's output easier to control with prompts.

You can access DALL-E 3 and other GPT-4 tools with a number of subscription plans. The "Team" plan is $25 USD a month per person and includes the ability to share creations across teams with ease.

More AI Packaging Design Content to Come!

This is just the start of our content series on artificial intelligence tools for packaging design inspiration; we plan to dive deep into each platform mentioned in the months to follow—stay tuned!

To learn more about packaging design principles and methods, check out our online courses including:

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