(Part 5/Words and pictures/Text and image/Packaging)

Exercise – Packaging

Biscuit Packets/Boxes

As there is a dinosaur on the page where the exercise is printed, I have decided to look for other animals as dinosaurs my be overused. I have decided to use a sabre toothed tiger and a woolly mammoth and a dodo.

As the use of these animals is aimed a children they should probably have catchy names.

I have just discovered that Sabre is a girls name. It was very popular in the USA around the time of the millennium. So that is the first name and the tiger is a girl.

Dodo is a boy’s name in India and Israel, although not a particularly popular one.  So, Dodo is a boy.

Our Woolly Mammoth needs a name not dissimilar to his species so Wally, Willy, Welly, or Wully might fit. I think he can be a boy called Will as that is currently is popular name in the UK.

The names trip off the tongue in a pleasing rhythm; Sabre, Dodo and Will. There are lots of rhymes for Will too so a catchy slogan could be created later if required. They need to be allocated to their flavour too. Raisins are soft so that can be Sabre’s flavour, Chocolate Chip is a long name so that can go with Will and that leaves the ginger to Dodo.

Unfortunately I am unable to research biscuits in the shops (coronovirus lockdown), so I will look on the Internet.

Tesco have hundreds of different biscuits on their website but these are the only three above which do not have a picture of the actual biscuits on the outside of the packet. Below are the only ones from Asda without biscuits on the packet.

McVities Owl Advert

Animals Yellow Biscuits

Cadbury’s Animals

Leibniz Zoo

Tiger Biscuits

Arnott’s Iced Animals

I have done a fairly extensive Internet search and found very few biscuits associated with animals, either the name of the biscuit or the advertising of the biscuits. There are a few with Asian text but not many.

Most of the biscuit packaging in this category that I found are very dated in style. Below are a few antique biscuit tins with animals on them and a I found a few 1950’s style ones but very few modern ones.

Nabisco Crackers

Sunshine Animal Crackers

Animal Cookies

I am not sure the biscuit maker is on to a winner with this new product as animals obviously do not sell biscuits (with the exception of Penguin). Extinct animals probably have even less appeal.

There is no indication in the brief regarding the appearance of the biscuits. For the sake of this exercise we will assume these cookies are round and about the size of a Nairn’s oat biscuit.

So they will be sold in a cardboard box similar in size and shape to a Nairn’s oat biscuit.

Our box will be 150 x 65 x 80mm

Next we need to look at our characters. How are they going to be represented? How will some long extinct animals fire the imagination of a child?

I think Sabre, Dodo and Will need to be cartoon style characters and aimed at younger children although younger children do not often choose ginger flavoured biscuits.

Firstly I have found some images of these animals.

Below is Dodo . It has a fairly appealing appearance already so hopefully I can change him into a ‘cuddly toy’ character.



No one has ever seen a real sabre-toothed tiger but it is generally accepted that they looked something like this.
She is not entirely enticing but I will try to render her more appealing. Apparently they were not actually tigers just a species of large cat.



Everyone loves a fluffy Animal so a cute woolly mammoth should be quite endearing.


I have had a very careful look at the boxes provided by Nairns Oat biscuits and am going to use these as my template. When deconstructed they just fit comfortably on a sheet of A3 paper so I think that is the practical way to go. There are very few other brands who use boxes.

I have been giving a great deal of thought about this packaging and what might go on it.
Firstly there needs to be a brand name. I will use ‘Ward’s’ and in order to appeal to children, I have decided to use the American term ‘cookies’ for the biscuits. Most small children will be familiar with this word.

I hesitate to call them ‘extinction biscuits’ as the connotations may not be quite right! I do think they should have more of a title though. ‘Old fashioned’ sort of references the dead animals but may not appeal to children. ‘Traditional’ suggests old and good and may appeal to parents but probably not to children. The ‘Phoenix’ connotation would go over the heads of 5 year olds – the age range I am looking at.
‘Prehistoric biscuits’ does not roll off the tongue either.

‘Time-traveller’s snack’ might fit the bill, with the by-line or slogan ‘worth going back for!’.
Maybe ‘time-travellers’ treats’ or Time-travellers’ titbits’ would be better. I’ll abandon the Cookie word.

I have decided:

I recollect liking a font called Stone-age. I will try that.

I have created pages with the accurate box shape to work out the layout for packaging.

There are 4 sides and 2 ends. Nairn’s, who presumably have done far more research on this than I have, use two identical images on adjacent sides. I assume this it so the packets show the same picture top and side when they are on the shelves. I agree this is sensible and will do the same.

One side of the box is full of necessary information; nutrition, bar codes, logos, contact details, ingredients etc. This is a requirement, so I will borrow their info to insert in a mock-up of my own boxes.

As I found in my research, a photo of the actual biscuits is currently on trend. I need to include this but also to incorporate my extinct characters, Sabre, Dodo and Will. To appeal to young children (target group 3 – 8 years) I need to use attractive colours and something special for them.

I am going to put a simple puzzle on one end of the packet which the child can do with the parent. It will be easy to tear it off if it is the end or the lid section.

The ends of the packet are 80mm x 65mm.

On one end of the packet I propose to put a counting game for small children to do with a parent and on the other end (the lid) I intend to put a drawing of the extinct animal which is promoting that variety. Making the animals physically interact with the biscuits would raise big problems with relative physical size so I have decided to present the interaction as the little counting games and the jingle/rhyme on the information side.

Obviously they will all be produced in the same house style but they will have a different dominant colour.

Will, the Mammoth – Chocolate chip – brown
Dodo – the ginger – orange
Sabre – the Raisin – purple

The opposite end piece has the counting game for tinies. It will be different on each packet. Maybe it could be changed each month so there is a series to collect.

Proposed layout of the main sides.

This is what the end panel will look like on Sabre’s box. Will’s will be a picture of the Woolly Mammoth and Dodo will be a picture of Dodo.

I like this choice of font. It is a bit quirky but it easy to read . Obviously I could spend hours looking for a ‘better’ one but I think this works.

That is the initial mock up for the setting out of text and images. At the moment I envisage photographed biscuits and hand drawn characters.

I have spread the title out as if it is going on a journey. The implication of the subtitle is that going back to the extinct animals’ period is worth doing, as well as saying the biscuits are ‘morish’ or worth going back to get another one from the cupboard!

I think this outline design looks modern and simple. I do not want anything cluttered or complex.

I am going to create cartoon style characters to advertise these biscuits. There will be a few sentences on the ‘spare’ side of the box about each creature as well as a little rhyme tying the animal, the biscuit and the flavour together.


Sabre toothed tigers are (were) by their very nature alarming and vicious animals. I have to create a character with the recognisable fangs whilst making it friendly and someone you want to share a biscuit with.
Looking back at my previous work, I did a cartoon of a teenage girl. I am going to try and tie that idea to the young female tiger.

These are some of my Sabre practice pictures. I had difficulty in not making her look too fierce. In the end I managed to give her a smile.
In order to make the fierce tiger look less formidable I have personified her with make-up, false eyelashes, painted nails, and finally, a fancy hat.
The body was not a problem once I had decided that in her portrait she should be standing up.

There are many tiger cartoons on line for reference.

Having thought about the hat and the personification of the characters, I will make sure they all have a hat of some kind. However, Will and Dodo will not need further ‘girly’ accoutrements.
The finished portrait of Sabre follows. I did consider giving her a handbag but decided against it.
I really like her eyes, the long lashes make her more friendly.

I spent a lot of time drawing Sabre on the Wacom tablet. I will have to do the other two more quickly.
First Dodo. I found a photo of a Dodo online and realised that Dodos looked almost like caricatures without alteration. I just had to enlarge his beak a bit.

Dodo was relatively simple to draw but I still can’t colour them in quickly. I need to spend more time learning this program . Dodo looks cute and friendly and very laid-back in his woolly hat.

The final character is Will the Woolly Mammoth. I am not sure how to present him. Woolly Mammoths have a lot of body which in itself is pretty boring. I am not sure I can draw him well in a more three-quarter front position. At the moment I have my original sketches which are ok but there is a too much body.

I have done some more drawings for Will the mammoth using a better angle with more interest and less body. I think he looks friendly and appealing and in the same style as I have done the others. I even managed to improve my painting technique leaving in some scratch lines for textural effect.
Will wears a blue hat as his symbol of personification. Ironically I have used the style and colour of the caps worn traditionally by zoo-keepers.

Finally I need to return to the packaging itself. The layout for all three varieties has been done.
They should have different colours to help identify the varieties. Raisin will be purple, Choc chip, brown and Ginger orange.
I think if I do a solid block colour on the whole packet it might be a bit too like the Nairns packets and the animal portraits may not show up well.
So, I am going to have to swap the favourite Treat of the animals . Will is now Ginger flavour and Sabre will be Choc chip.

However, if I use a gradient fill right across the packaging then maybe the portraits will be on a paler shade. I do not want too many colours on the packaging so intend to use manly black and white however, I will use the main colour for the actual title of the biscuits.

I will keep the text in a simple font where I am not using ‘Stoneage’ as I would like at least some of it to be readable by very young children. (As an ex-primary teacher, I think this may as well be a reading lesson too.)

For interaction between biscuits, animals, child and parent , I will create 3 simple rhymes to go on the packs as young children like ‘jingles’ and rhythm..

There will also be some educational information for older children or for parents to read out about the extinct animal. The rhymes will be:

Dodo loves a Raisin Treat
It is his favourite snack
Organic biscuits taste so good
And there’s no looking back!

Will can eat a packet whole
A Ginger Treats delight
Organic biscuits are for him,
He loves them day or night!

Sabre likes the Chocolate Treats
She always keeps them near.
Organic biscuits keep her calm
Not too much sugar here.

Information about the animals in not more than 100? words. I have counted the words on the Nairn’s packs and their block of a 100 words is readable. However, children are used to larger writing so I’ll try to keep it down to around 60 words. I have done some research on these animals and condensed it down into some interesting facts using simple sentences.

Facts to include:

Sabre-toothed tiger or Smiledon
The Sabre-toothed cat is extinct. It was not really a tiger but about the same size and colour. It lived 2 million years ago. They ate any other animals which they could catch. They lived in warm places where there were tall grasses and bushes. They probably died out because other hunting animals were faster and moved better.

The Dodo
The last Dodo was killed in 1662 – almost 400 years ago. They were about a metre tall and lived up to 20 years. They could not fly but had strong legs for running fast. They lived on an island off Africa. Sailors used to hunt and eat them. Rats, dogs and cats, from visiting ships ate their eggs so they died out.

The Woolly Mammoth
These were huge hairy elephants with smallish ears. They lived where it was cold. They were vegetarians and had to eat for 20 hours a day to survive. They lived about 100 thousand years ago. Their curly tusks were around 13.5 metres long and were used for fighting. They lived a long time, about 60 years.

Because I am in Coronovirus lockdown, I cannot go out to buy a selection of biscuits for the photographs I was going to take. I have therefore taken the liberty of ‘borrowing’ some pictures from the Internet. The resolution is not great but it is ok for a mock up. Obviously the real thing would be a high-res image.

I have taken the box shapes and created backgrounds for each of the packets. I have used a gradient from each colour to white on the right hand side – this is where the small portrait of each animal will be at the end of the packet.

I expected the next part of this exercise to be relatively simple as it would just be a matter of ‘filling in the squares’ . I had previously decided on the layout and all the characters are prepared.

I ran into a constant stream of technical problems trying to get everything in the right place and well balanced and presented in the same way on each packet that it actually took two and a half days of full-time work to achieve the finished images! I certainly learned a great deal whilst doing this exercise but also experienced a great deal of frustration, especially when the computer program crashed in the middle of it.

My choice of ‘Stoneage’ as a font was not practical as it is a hollow character and just did not give the required prominence needed for the main name. I therefore changed it to a very simple clear font (Segoe UI Black) using ‘Elementary’ for the rest of the text. I used a thin outline where I felt more definition was required.

I think the use of the curved main title works well as it divides the space into the area for the biscuits and the area for the character. So, like most modern packets there is a photo of the contents as well as including the attraction for the children. The relative size of character and biscuit was overcome by this ploy. Interaction is created in other ways as described.

The finished item has all the required information spaced well and not cluttered. It is aimed at younger children with ‘pester power’ and also at adults, as the biscuits are Organic implying they are ‘healthy’. There is also scope for adult/child interaction as well as animal/biscuit on the packets.

This is the first one I finished correctly having had to alter many mistakes along the way.

I think now there should be a set of children’s books to go with the biscuits and their boxes. Maybe collecting the end images could lessen the price of buying a book! The front and the top of the box have the same image although it has had to be modified slightly for the top as it is narrower that the side. The flap with the Dodo on it is the one which will show if the packets are stored on their side or it becomes the lid of the box if it is opened upright.
The back of the box (bottom panel) contains interesting details aimed at the children. It also shows images of other varieties which can be purchased.

I have left in the guide lines where the folds will be for easier viewing of this  mock-up. Obviously they would not be there on the finished box.

This is Sabre’s box.


Calling these biscuits ‘Treats’ is a ploy to encourage parents to buy them as something ‘special’. In reality nobody actually needs biscuits in their diet but if they are going to eat these they can be used as a ‘special’ event. This is a very middle class conception but perhaps biscuits inspired by extinct animals may appeal more to that set of people. The whole buying, and consuming process can become an educational experience so can be justified in the mind of the concerned parent.

This is the last of the 3 mock-ups for this exercise.

I am pleased with the result. I did a careful analysis of the requirements followed by a lot of research. I considered the intended audience interaction with the packets and took specific aim at an age-group. Nevertheless, it is not exclusive and should have appeal to a very wide age range.

The names and titles have been evaluated as marketing points with each having a good reason for its existence. As with any good design, especially 3 dimensional ones, there is no wasted space but all spaces have their raison d’etre.

Having finished this exercise, I couldn’t resist the temptation to make up one of the boxes, which I suppose, strictly speaking is a real Mock-up. Here is the purple one – Raisin biscuits with Dodo. It is the exact size of the Nairrn’s box and printed in high resolution. It looks fairly professional, I think.

A set of Time Traveller children’s books going to the period of each animal (with only biscuits to live in,
of course), would be a good accompaniment to the launch of the new product.