Bring your designs to life: create professional mockups
As a designer, it’s important to bring your final design to life by showing your client what it will look when printed. Don’t hurry the process at this point… you took time to create an awesome design so spend a little more time showing it off.
Here are a few program tools and steps that can help you create professional mockups:
First, understand that your presentation doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate — a simple mockup that emphasizes your design is just as effective.
A nice mockup represents your design, your client AND you, so don’t promote yourself in a mockup that makes you look childish. The Contest Holder will decide what the best design for them is:
I see this countless of times in contests and I think everybody can agree that this isn’t a professional mockup… so let’s stop doing it.
Let’s Start the Fun Part!
How you present your work is really the fun part… there are no rules! You need to come up with something simple that doesn’t dominate, but instead compliments your work.
Create a new Photoshop document in the size that you want to present your mockup. We will use RGB as our color mode since this will be viewed on-screen.
Copy the front and back of your design onto a white background.
Right click the Photoshop layer that incorporates the Front layer and select “Blending Options.” Or you can simply click the “fx” button at the bottom of the layer panel and select “Drop Shadow.”
Once you click on “Drop Shadow,” type in the following settings or create your own:
- Opacity: 70 %
- Distance: 1 px
- Spread: 0 %
- Size: 5 px
For the Back layer, you can create a shadow following the above steps OR you can simply copy the settings by pressing the Alt-Key and dragging the Adjustment Settings from the Front layer to the Back.
You will see a soft Drop Shadow on both cards.
Creating Duplicate Layers
Now we are going to create duplicate layers of the Front and Back by selecting each individual layer and pressing CMD+J (CTRL+J). You should see copies of the original layers.
Make the ORIGINAL layers invisible (click on the Eye-icon to the left of the layer) so we can reference back to these designs after we create our background.
Creating a Patterned Background
Make sure you’re on the Front-copied layer, then place your mouse over the actual Front-copied card design and hold the ALT-Key — click and drag your mouse. You will see that your design, and it’s layer, have been duplicated.
Continue duplicating the Front design making sure to rotate each copy in a different direction. After you have filled the background with the Front design, complete the same steps for the Back design so that you have a nice mix of both:
Once you have an assortment that you like, it’s time to flatten and merge all of the copies together. Select and highlight all of the copied layers and press CMD+E (CTRL+E). Or, right click on all of the highlighted layers and select “Merge Layers.” After you merge, you will see ONE layer.
NOTE: Make sure you do not merge the ORIGINAL (invisible) Card layers with the copies!
Using the Blur Filter
Select the newly, merged Background layer and choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur from the menu bar. Use a Radius around 0,8 pixels for the Gaussian Blur Filter.
By adding the blur, our background is still visible without distracting the eye of the viewer from the original Card design. The Blur gives a DOF (depth of field) to our background.
You should have 4 layers right now:
- White Background layer — this is found at the bottom of the layers palette which we don’t need anymore since the whole background should be filled with the Flattened Background layer
- Flattened Background layer — incorporates the flattened business card copies
- Original Front layer — incorporates the original Front design
- Original Back layer — incorporates the original Back design
Creating a New Layer
Now create a 5th layer by clicking on the Paper-icon at the bottom of the layers palette (next to the Trashcan-icon) — move the new layer below your Original Front and Back layers.
Fill the new layer with black by pressing ALT+Delete to fill it with the default foreground color. If your layer doesn’t turn black, check your color platte at the bottom of the tool bar to make sure you have black selected.
Creating a Layer Mask
On the 5th layer, create a Layer Mask by clicking on the Rectangle&Circle-icon at the bottom of the layer platte. You will see a white rectangle added to the layer.
There are different ways you can create the Layer Mask below but, in this example, we are going to use the eraser tool:
Select the eraser tool and change the opacity to 30%. Make sure your color platte (found at the bottom of the tool bar) is on the white and black default colors and the white is selected.
Begin erasing some of the black from the middle of the layer. If you erase too much, you can switch the color platte to black and use the eraser tool to draw in the areas you’d like to re-show. This really helps if you mess up and don’t want to start over.
Using Blend Modes
Now that your image is similar to the one above, set the Blend Mode to Multiply and leave the opacity at 100%. The Blend Mode drop-down menu can be found at the top of the Layer platte.
Take a look at your mockup and get excited… we are on the right track!
Remember the original Card layers you hid? Click on the Eye-icon again to turn the layers back on!
Rotate the Front and Back card designs until you are happy with their position. Technically, we are done at this stage and you can be proud to show this to your client:
BUT if you want to give your already-awesome design a little more OOMPH… add a few details.
For example, I gave my mockup a simple border and integrated the client’s logo:
The goal of presenting your work is to represent each client’s branding in a distinctive way. Make sure to create a unique mockup that really demonstrates why your design fits their company’s style.
Also, try to be different from others! If you do the same thing as everyone else then your design and presentation will be overlooked.
Examples and Inspiration
The following examples demonstrate ways you can present designs that incorporate unique materials and effects like UV Spot, Foil, etc.