Shop Talk

Making Your Own Custom Mockups

There’s no better place to showcase your latest designs, than in their natural habitat. Giving your fans a preview of what your designs look like on a shirt or phone case, while out in the wild, is a winning combo. While photographing your printed work is ideal, a product mockup can be just as awesome. Either way you do it, your fans will thank you.

We’ll be using Adobe Photoshop to make a custom mockup, however many of the tips can be used for your favorite image editor.

Step 1: First, you need to take a photo of the product or scene you’d like to turn into a mockup. Ideally, you want to use blank products, but you can also use the healing brush and content aware tools to remove a design from a shirt. Here are some tips for taking great photos:

  1. Find an area with an interesting background, but one that doesn’t detract from the shirt and design.
  2. If you can use a tripod or something to stabilize the camera so your photos are sharp.
  3. When photographing apparel, adjust the fabric so that it looks natural but will show off the design.

Step 2: After adjusting and color correcting the image, the design can be imported into the mockup. However, in order to make the design look realistic,  you can use selection tools and masks to extract the shirt onto it’s own layer, as seen in the image.

After the shirt layer is extracted, desaturate it and adjust the levels so that the shadows are more pronounced. This layer will be used to add depth and texture the design you place on the mockups. You can also make duplicates of this shirt layer to add color to your mockup. Adjust the shirt Layer Properties to add color and create a new folder for each of these color layers to use when you need them.


Step 3: Place the design on it’s own layer, and if you’re using Photoshop you can turn this layer into a Smart Object. This will allow you to resize and warp the image to fit the shirt, and not compromise the image quality. For this tutorial we are using a design by Winya.

Scale the image down and make sure it’s just a tad bigger than the printing area of the shirt. This will allow you to wrap the image, and not make it too small.

Step 4: Using the Transform tools in Photoshop, you want to adjust the design so that it follows the same perspective as the printed area would be. As the shirt has some folds, there might be areas of the design that overlap with the folds. Using the “Puppet Warp” tool in Photoshop, you can adjust these areas and pull them in so that the design more closely follows the folds of the shirt.

Using Smart Objects means you can replace this design if you like, and the perspective and warp adjustments will be the same. All you need to do is add a new design to smart object container and save.

Step 5: It’s time to make the design look more like it was printed rather than pasted on. Start by moving the extracted shirt layer above the design and change the blending mode to “Multiply. You might notice this will make the entire shirt darker, a quick fix is to make the shirt layer a Clipping Mask. Do this by selecting the shirt layer and then go to the “Layer” menu and choose “Create Clipping Mask”. Now only the pixels in the design layer will be affected by the shirt layer.

The design was still too dark, but by lowering the opacity to 90%, it now looks more realistic and allows the top shirt layer to be more effective.

Final Notes: Every design will be different, and interact with these layers in a different way. So for each design you add to a blank shirt mockup, you might need to try different blending modes and layer adjustments to make the design look more realistic. The great thing is that you will be using your own designs, so you have the best pair of peepers for knowing how the design should look.

Check out our custom promotional templates for some photography ideas.

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View additional posts by Josh


Art historian, burrito enthusiast, and Email Marketing Specialist here at Redbubble.