Being a designer means that you will constantly need to come up with new concepts and ideas. The way we present them is of crucial importance.
In the following tutorial, I will show you how I have modeled a new packaging concept for Doritos inside 3DS Max. You can see the whole concept and read more about it at my Behance profile.
However, I will offer you more than just a regular tutorial in this post. I will also talk and present ways how to use 3D software as a tool for generating and exploring new ideas.
Since the base of the packaging is a hexagon, the best way to start is by creating a cylinder with only 6 sides.
If you try to render it now, even though there are only 6 sides, the edges will still look soft which is something we don’t need. In order to sort this out, turn off the “Smooth” option.
Now it’s time to start editing the primitive. In order to work non-destructively, instead of converting the cylinder to Editable Poly, we will add a modifier.
Go to the Modifier tab and from the Modifier List, pick Edit Poly (notice that after this action the soft edges will appear again in the viewport).
Pick the Polygon Selection Mode  and select all faces [Ctrl+A]. Then scroll down to the bottom of the Modify Tab, and under Polygon: Smooting Groups, click the Clear All button. The edges will become sharp again.
Now since we have the base, it’s time to work on the triangular sides.
Switch to Vertex Selection Mode  and select the middle vertices. The easiest way to do this is to go to the front viewport and drag a selection around the middle row.
Now we need to rotate those vertices by 30° (doesn’t matter whether it’s clockwise or counter-clockwise)
Few edges need to be added in order to divide the shape on triangles. For that purpose we will use the Cut tool (Modify tab > Edit Geometry > Cut, or use the shortcut Alt+C). After we active this tool, a crossbar will appear which we can use to draw the missing edges by clicking over the vertices that need to be connected.
After that, right mouse click to exit the Cut Tool and activate it again by using the shortcut Alt+C in order to draw another edge.
When you’re done, check your model for extra vertices. Sometimes when you’re using the Cut Tool, it happens to click near a vertex instead of over it, which creates additional points that we don’t need, so we have to fix this.
If there are no obsolete vertices in your model, feel free to skip this step.
Make sure you’re still in Vertex Selection Mode, and under Edit Vertices, choose Target Weld.
First, click over the additional vertex, and then over the original one. This will automatically weld them together, without affecting the position of the original vertex.
Now we will work on the proportions of this packaging until we come to a satisfying result.
1. Exit out of the Vertex Selection mode by clicking over the yellow icon.
2. Take the Select and Non-Uniform Scale tool [R] (notice that you might need to click the shortcut a few times in order to pick the proper Scale Tool, or if you’re using your mouse, click and hold over the Scale icon until you can see all tools available underneath it).
In the Perspective Viewport, drag the Z axis until you get to 80.
Now the triangular sides look better since their sides are equilateral. However the top and the bottom part of the packaging look pretty big. Let’s narrow them down.
Go to Vertex Selection Mode  again. In the Front Viewport select the top and bottom row of vertices. Take the Scale Tool [R] and in the Front Viewport and drag the Y Axis until you get to 85.
Now the proportions are much better.
Exploring new ideas through experimentation
Since we are very close to the end result, I would like to talk about how to use 3DS Max (or any other 3D software) for testing a concept or coming up with new ones.
The most important thing is to question everything.What if we use a different kind of material for the same shape? How can we divide an object into the most essential parts and play with them? How can we use the same object for a different purpose? What effect will my designs have on logistics and scalability?
These are all questions that I ask myself regularly when developing a new idea. It helps me drift away in unknown directions where interesting things can happen :)
Stackability is a very important aspect of every packaging. By making copies of the same model, I can easily test it. In this case, the hexagonal base works perfectly for stacking as well as fitting more product into a smaller space. The design is also extremely strong for withstanding vertical pressure and is less likely to be damaged during transport and handling.
I isolated one triangular row and multiplied it. Although the resulting form looks interesting, it’s not the most suitable solution for a packaging. Maybe for another kind of object?
Chips and dips always go together. By splitting the 3D model in half, I developed a form that can be easily used as a dip container. Then I made different variations of the bottom row.
Rendering the model
I will be using VRay for rendering the final image. From my experience, It’s the best and easiest-to-use software for creating realistic visualizations. However, the same result can be achieved with other renderers as well.
I won’t go in too much detail since you can find an abundance of tutorials for creating studio lightning and adjusting the render settings in VRay.
CREATING THE BACKDROP
Start with a line, assign Fillet and turn on rendering visibility.
MATERIAL SETTINGS (used for the backdrop and the packaging)
Vray Standard Material with lighter Diffuse Color (R225 G225 B225).
Turn on Indirect Illumination. Use Irradiance map as an engine for Primary Bounces and Light Cache for Secondary Bounces.
If you try to render it now, you will get a result similar to this:
Although it looks pretty realistic, there’s something that doesn’t quite sell it. We will fix this in the following last step.
The problem with the current 3D model are the edges of the packaging. If you take a paper and fold it, creases will appear. So we also need to simulate those creases here.
Start by selecting the packaging and making a copy of it [Ctrl+V].
We will use the Lattice Modifier in order to accentuate the edges. This modifier basically transforms every object into a wireframe.
You will find it under Modifier Tab > Modifier List > Lattice. Make sure you copy the same parameters as below.
Now we will erase the accentuated edges at the top and the bottom. Without them, it looks more natural.
First, while the object is still selected, click the right mouse button and choose Convert to Editable Poly.
Pick the Edge Selection Mode , select the top and the bottom row of edges and hit the [Delete] button.
Hit the Render Button [F9] and you will get the final Doritos Packaging rendering:
Hope you found this tutorial useful. The second part will be published soon where I will cover the texturing process.
And remember, 3DS Max is not just a visualization tool, it’s a tool for generating new ideas.
Please write in the comments below what kind of other nontraditional methods you use in your daily work for coming up with new ideas.