How to Design a Print Mockup

Posted on April 22, 2022 | Updated on July 20, 2022

Print mockups are creative, realistic presentations of how a design should look or function in real life. So before you start your new project, it’s a good idea to plan how you want the final product to look. For print mockups and design projects, this part is even more crucial. After all, designing your products in a way that doesn’t look quite right can be a waste of time and money.

Whether designing a logo print on a bag or an on-brand storefront, you’ll want to follow these steps to ensure your mockups look professional. Though print mockups are images modeling the final product, they are powerful representations that should tell a story.

Print mockups comprise attention and detail and determine whether viewers will find it compelling or not.

How to Create a Print Mockup

1. Find High-Quality Images

While showcasing your work, it’s best to find high-quality photos you may use for your mockups. Plenty of sites offer templates and customizable illustrations if you’re designing homeware, clothing, etc. 

For example, Unsplash allows you to download copyright-free images — meaning you don’t have to purchase a license to use the photo. If you’re creating a product design, Printed Mint has all types of free templates you can use for mugs, pillows and more.

2. Prep Your Artwork in Illustrator

Before starting a product print mockup in Photoshop, it’s essential to prep your graphic in Illustrator first. Start by opening the photo you’re going to use as your mockup.

Use the “Selection” tool and create a square to cover the photo section where you want to place your design. In this how-to, you’re grabbing the shape to cover the entire object in the photo. Next, copy the square into Adobe Illustrator to give you the correct size when filling the object in the mockup image.

Fill the square with your artwork and save the design with the “Asset Export” function in a JPEG format — with baseline, optimized and anti-alias art optimization settings on. This part is important. It ensures you don’t have white lines crossing your design. Plus, it saves as one continuous pattern.

3. Import Your Artwork Into Photoshop

Now you’re ready to prepare your mockup image. In the section where you’d like to place your artwork, use the “Magnetic Lasso” tool to move along the edges of the area. This tool will highlight the section you select.

Drag your JPEG photo into the selected area and click on “Convert to Smart Object” in the pattern layer panel. You’ll use the “Select” menu and “Load Selection” to use the lasso tool to highlight the object you need to outline. Click the small rectangle with the circle. Once you do that, your pattern should fit within the entity.

This part will look flat at first, but you can fix this by selecting the layer mask for the image and changing the blending mode from “Normal” to “Multiply.” This step enables the design to blend seamlessly with the object selected for the print mockup.

4. Fine-Tune the Perspective

When working with a product that has a perspective, you’ll need to adjust it to make the product realistic. Otherwise, the design of the object will look flat. Suppose you’re placing a logo on a mug mockup. The design should wrap around the mug instead of appearing across the product. 

As before, use the “Magnetic Lasso” tool and select the part of the mockup image where you want to feature the design. Then you’ll drag the artwork into Photoshop. Click “Edit,” “Perspective Warp,” and drag it over to the pattern area. Select “Warp” and “Multiply” the layer. Then move the corners of the design until the perspective is suitable.

Once your design is complete, you can save everything to hand off to the client to ensure the print mockup looks correct.

Make Print Mockups that Stand Out

Print mockups are an incredibly powerful tool for selling an idea and offering the viewer perspectives. With a proper design, you give your client the chance to turn a vision into a reality. Use these steps to design a realistic mockup, and you’ll render an image anyone will find compelling.

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About The Author

Coraline (Cora) Steiner is the Senior Editor of Designerly Magazine, as well as a freelance developer. Coraline particularly enjoys discussing the tech side of design, including IoT and web hosting topics. In her free time, Coraline enjoys creating digital art and is an amateur photographer.

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