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Given a sheet of paper of known dimensions, I use a spreadsheet program to calculate dimensions for the layout, also referred to as a development surface. The spreadsheet accounts for the intended use of the box by allowing some dimensions to vary to maximize a given parameter, such as total volume, frontal dimensions, deepest box of a certain height, etc. I have two different spreadsheets, one for pentagonal boxes and one for rectangular boxes.
With Illustrator, make the layout into a multi-layered document. Save the Illustrator file.
Open it in PhotoShop to decorate the box panels, prepare a print job, and save.
Next, print the document on the paper, cut, score, and fold.
No glue is typically required, yet the result is remarkably strong due to dual folds along certain edges which act as beams. The boxes are self-sealing and feature a hidden surprise when opened.
My printer is the Epson 1270 ink-jet, therefore the following constraints:
Maximum areal size (not shown) is large enough for 8.5" x 11" x 0.3" of sheets
box1 and 2 are large enough for1.25" of CDs in protective sleeves, or one video tape. Penta-box is large enough for 1.25" of CDs, but no sleeves. A shorter height would accomodate the sleeves. Train was made as a collection of boxes 3.0" x 2.25" x 4.5" and another collection half that size. The larger size train engine was double-length (9.0") and required a roll-fed banner sheet of 24" length.
I have made about 100 boxes this way, of various dimensions and with different papers and decorations. I have yet to find the perfect paper. The strongest papers(a) tend to print less brilliantly than the less strong(b). I even made one of crystal clear acetate with printing on the inside and mailed it to WIRED magazine. Never heard back.
Lumijet Media: Museum Parchment Thick and structurally very strong, but "pebbly" rougher finish does not accept ink perfectly, however this can be used to advantage in certain cases
Epson media: Brilliant White Watercolor Paper (matte) and Premium Luster Photo Paper (glossy, see photo above) Perfect print quality on a somewhat thinner, weaker substrate.
See also pano-box application