Print Design

Create Your Very Own Monster Box


In this tutorial, we'll explain how to create a crazy animal monster box. We'll be creating a little illustrated monster, a box template and we'll learn how to set up bleed, glue flaps, and a die line. Let's have some fun!

You can find the Source files in the directory labeled "source" that came in the files that you downloaded. You may wish to look through them briefly before we begin.

Step 1

Let's start with a small sketch. We need to have some references so it's easier for us to create a small cute monster animal! You want to focus on some big eyes and some wicked teeth. It is important to have a concept in mind and then sketch it out. Thumbnailing is a good way to start and from there it is easier and less time consuming to refine the idea.

Once you have the concept sketched out, you can start illustrating it in Adobe Illustrator. Let's begin with a rectangle. Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and start drawing a rectangle onto the art board. I already figured out a size. Keep it around 280pt in width for now.

Step 2

We want to have some big teeth. As you can see from the sketch, it will be a simple monster. Select the rectangle and go to Effect > Distort > Transform > Zig Zag and apply the settings shown below.

Step 3

Expand the effect by going to Object > Expand (Expand Appearance). Then create another rectangle in the same size as Step 1 and place it behind the zig zap shape. Place it so the zig zag points out at the bottom. In the next step, we'll combine the two and get our teeth shape.

Step 4

Select both and apply the Divide option in the Pathfinder Palette. Parts of the shape will be invisible, but just add a Stroke again to see all paths.

Step 5

Select the Direct Selection Tool (A) and start deleting the overlapping parts on the side. Keep the one on the bottom, these will be our upper teeth.

Step 6

Select the shape with the Selection Tool (V) and click Add to Shape Area in the Pathfinder Palette.

Step 7

Grab the Direct Selection Tool (A) and pick the most outer point of the teeth. We want to pull this path point further downwards so it won't be sticking out so much and make it longer than the other teeth. Repeat this with the other side. In the end, the outer teeth should be longer and pointed more inwards.

Step 8

Select the Pen Tool (P) and draw a similar line just like you see in the image below. Make sure that the line overlaps the rectangle shape. This is important since we will have to combine both.

Step 9

Select both shapes, the rectangle with teeth and the line, then click Divide in the Pathfinder Palette. This will combine both shapes and then we can select them both separately with the Direct Selection Toll (A).

Step 10

Grab the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the top part of the shape. Fill it with a nice blue color. Keep the Stroke black.

Step 11

Select the shape and duplicate it. Then rotate it 180 degrees. This shape will represent the bottom teeth. Place the shape so the teeth overlap each other. We'll make alterations later on.

Step 12

Let's create some eyes. Select the Ellipse Tool (L). Draw a fairly big circle and fill with it with a light grey to white radial gradient. Place the gradient highlight towards the middle so the darker part falls onto the eye's edge. Add a Stroke of 1 pt and choose black for the color. Let the eye shape overlap on the side. We want this to stick out a bit.

Step 13

Create a sickle like shape. Make two duplicates of the circle, then overlap them, depending how big you want the sickle shape and apply the Divide option in the Pathfinder Palette. Delete all unnecessary shapes. Now fill the shape with a darker grey and leave the Stroke empty.

Step 14

Add a small with black filled circle and place it in the middle towards the right. This will be the pupil. Place it towards the inside of the eye. This will give the monster a slight crazy look :)

Step 15

Select all the eye shapes, group them (Command + G), then duplicate and reflect them. Voila the eyes of the monster have been created.

Step 16

The monster needs some eyebrows. Create two shape with the Pen Tool (P) and fill them with black. Select both and choose Add to Shape Area in the Pathfinder Palette creating a unibrow. Place these combined eyebrows behind the eyes and let them stick out.

Step 17

Define the eyebrows a little and add some pointy curves. The eyebrows can decide which emotions a face is showing. Since we want the monster to look quite animalistic and angry, but not scary, we need to make sure that the eyebrows look like this. As a small correction, we also need to alter the upper teeth. Select the outer points on both sides and move them inwards and shorted them with the Direct Selection Tool (A).

Step 18

Let's have a look at the eyebrows. They play an important role for the cutting of the box later and for the look of the monster. We will be cutting along the outline of the eyebrows, but in order to keep an intact box, we need to make some alterations. If we would cut along the eyebrows now, the face part of the monster would be separated from the box. We want to keep it together though and have just the eyes stand up (see the sketch in Step 1). So let's make them a little smaller and create a distance from the box outline.

Step 19

Select the lower teeth with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and fill them with a grey to white linear gradient. This will give the box a more lively look.

Step 20

Now this is what the front of the box should look like.

Step 21

I created a diagram of the box as a flat (shown below). Number 1 is the front part with lower teeth. Number 2 and 3 are the side pieces. Number 4 is the box bottom. Number 5 is the back of the box. Number 6 is the top part of the box and Number 7 is the front part with the face and upper teeth.

Step 22

Let's move on to the die line setup. As I showed in Step 21, wee need a total length of 5 squares. Earlier I talked about a width of 280pt. This will be our final size. We need a total length of 1400 pt (5 x 280 pt) and a total width of 280 pt. Double-click the Rectangle Tool (M) and choose the settings. Select a red color for the Stroke and set the width to 0.25 pt.

Step 23

We need to be exact with the die line. Turn on the Rulers (Command + R), and turn on the Guides and Snap to Grid (both located under the View menu). Then put the mouse over the rulers where the horizontal meets the vertical, hold down the mouse key, and drag the cross hair so it aligns with the rectangle. This will set the zero to our box and we'll be able to align guides and side pieces exact to the point.

Step 24

Since the mouse can be inaccurate, select the rectangle and open the Transform Palette. There check the Reference Point top left and in the X and Y coordinates enter 0 pt. This aligns it exact to the point.

Step 25

Drag a guideline onto the artboard on the horizontal. Unlock the guide (View > Guides and uncheck Lock Guides). Now you can select the guide. Repeat Step 24 and align the guide so it falls onto -280pt on the Y-Axis.  You can also create a square and align it this way. It is up to you.

Step 26

Repeat Step 24 and 25.

Step 27

Here is a close up to see if the guides fall where they should fall.

Step 28

Select the guides, then align them if they are of a fraction of a point.

Step 29

Double-click the Rectangle Tool (M) and set the width to 840 pt and the height to 280 pt. Then align the rectangle 280 pt to the X-Axis and -840 pt to the Y-Axis. This is the general shape of our die-line.

Step 30

Select both and click Add to shape area in the Pathfinder Palette.

Step 31

Select the Pen Tool (P) and add dashed line where the folds are going to be.

Step 32

Since we set up our guides, it's quite easy to place the fold line, which are indicated with dashed lines. A die-line is usually set in a Spot color, mostly red so it can be distinguished. Die-lines are placeholder's to ensure the proper layout of a document and are indicating where the document should be die cut. They are placed on a separate layer. Stroke size varies from 0.25 pt to 1 pt. The die-line stroke should be set to overprint so lines show up over the underlying colors and don't knock-out the color underneath. Once you have set up the die-line, select all die-lines and place them on a separate layer and name it "Die Line."

Step 33

Since we'll be cutting out our monster box, we'll need some flaps to glue it together. Below I created fairly large flaps that will allow us to glue and secure the box sides together in a proper way.

Step 34

Now on to the important shape placement. Since we are working on a flat, we need to make sure the shapes are placed in the right order and orientation. Lets' start with the eyes since they are very important. We need to flip them upside down and make sure that the eyebrows meet with the fold line.

Step 35

Below is the rest of the box shapes. I numbered them again for better understanding. Number 1 is the front part with lower teeth. Number 2 and 3 are the side pieces. Number 4 is the box bottom. Number 5 is the back of the box. Number 6 is the top part of the box and Number 7 is the front part with face and upper teeth. You can add the blue shapes as one or separate pieces. Just make sure that they will overlap so no white of the paper will show through. Don't forget ti add an extra of 9 pt as a bleed. The die-cut requires a 1/8" (9 pt) bleed from where we want to cut. With a bleed we will avoid color gaps at the edge.

Step 36

I didn't extend the bleed onto the flaps since we will glue them and they are not visible. At the printer, a flap or any part where glue will be applied is usually kept uncolored so glue can stick better and ink is saved.

Step 37

Here is a full layout of the flat with die line, flaps and shapes. I added some funky monster dots as well. When you print it out, make sure that fold lines are not printed. Quick Tip: in order to still know where to fold, have the lines on the edge next to the bleed, so you can score the paper. When setting it up for letter size (unless you have a larger printer and can print tabloid size), you will need to shrink it to about 60%.


And this is the final assembled box! I hope you had fun!

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