Photoshop mockups are images that model your design in a realistic context. Whether you’re presenting your work to a client or iterating, mockups are a helpful tool to show how a design might appear (or be used) in the real world. In five simple steps, learn how to use mockup files like a pro.
To jumpstart your search, check out our list of some of the best free and paid mockup resources. Once you find the mockup of your dreams, download the file. Many mockup files arrive in folders containing other items (legal terms, author information, etc). Open the file ending with .psd.
For this example, I’ve downloaded this mug mockup from Graphic Burger.
Great mockups include many layers, each labeled to describe its contents. Check to see what each layer does by toggling on/off its visibility by clicking on the eye icon to the left of the layer name. Toggle off the layers you don’t need.
Here, I’ve left the “Change mug color” layer toggled off, since I want the mug to stay white.
Notice that some layers come with a fancy little document icon, and upon mouse hover, “Smart Object thumbnail” appears. These are Smart Objects, which let you make nondestructive transformations to the layer, bring in vector art, and have your changes update in files where that Smart Object is used.
To customize the mockup, you’ll be editing Smart Objects. Double click the Smart Object you want to edit, which will opens a separate window in Photoshop for the Smart Object contents.
Think of the window that opens for the Smart Object as a flattened view of the mockup surface. There, create the design you wish to model. Drag over images and add text if needed. Toggle the visibility off (or delete) any layers you don’t want to appear in the mockup. Then, save the file (just Save, not Save As). As soon as it is saved, the mockup will update to reflect the design in the Smart Object—head over to that Photoshop window to check it out.
Here’s the editing view of the Smart Object…
…and, as soon as I save this Smart Object, the mockup updates to reflect the design:
In the mockup file, do anything else you need to make it yours! Customize the background color, add text, crop the canvas, move layers around (be sure to watch out for shadows and lighting effects)…the possibilities are infinite.
Here, I’ve changed the background color, added some hippos and text, and adjusted the mug scaling.
Then, export the mockup image in the file type you need, and, in case you want to modify your mockup again later, save your mockup as a .psd file. That’s all there is to it. Have fun mocking up your work!