Retouch: Wine bottle labels

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Often in graphic design, you need to create realistic mockups of packaging to give the client an understanding of how it might look once produced. This is an example of a wine label which has been retouched to look as though it exists on a wine bottle.

As with all photo retouching, an awareness of where light falls onto and object, how shadows would behave under that (or those) lights, and any reflective or semi-reflective surfaces that are present. If you don’t pay strict attention to these issues the illusion will not work. It’s true that most people will not know what is wrong with the image, but they will notice, or feel, that something is not right. This is what I try to avoid at all costs.

With this wine bottle example, the flat label artwork needed:

  1. to have all printers’ marks removed and cropped as it would be in production;
  2. to be curved to mimic the curve of the win bottle. Care was taken to ensure the curve at the top and bottom of the label matched the curve of the bottle in the exact position it would be placed in real life. This is important because every photograph has a natural perspective point. The plane at the top of the bottle is more or less at eye level, whereas the bottom of the bottle sits on the table on a bit of a backward-facing angle. This means the angle of perspective changes as you move down the length of the bottle. The label needs to curve in the same way as the part of the bottle it sits on. Luckily, we can do this easily with the warp transform tool in Photoshop :)
  3. to have the sides of the label slightly blurred (out of focus) to give the sense of depth. The level of blur — or if there’s any at all — depends on whether the original image of the bottle has a shallow or deep depth of field. The treatment of the label should follow accordingly;
  4. to have a shadow added on the right side;
  5. to have the highlight added from the win-bottle. In this case, I knew the label itself would only have a printed laminate applied (not a plastic laminate) meaning the label would only have a slight, dull sheen.

After these steps, the label can be ‘applied’ to the bottle to produce a realistic final packaging mock up.