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How to Help Your Clients Love Your Designs

Don’t make them think!

Invite your clients into your vision without making them do any work. Using a mockup is a simple, effective way to present your designs that helps your clients visualize the final product - and love it.

But, ever felt like that generic mockup floating in space is just not effective at helping your client visualize your design in real life?

That’s where custom mockups come in.

Follow along as I create a mockup out of a regular photo to showcase this ad design in a real-life scenario and “sell” the design to my client.

Step 1

Create a Smart Object

Using the rectangle tool, create a shape the size your design is, ie. 8.5x11, 10x10 etc. Right click the layer in photoshop and click "create smart object."

Step 2


Click Ctrl+T to transform your object. Right click and choose from the transform menu how you would like to adjust your object to fit the shape in the photo. I like to start with Distort and line up the four corners of the shape on the four corners in the photo. Then I move on to Warp to finesse the curves to match the photo.

Pro Tip!

Pasting a design into the smart object will help you see the edges of the mockup more clearly. Then you can make sure it lines up perfectly with the photo beneath it.

Step 3


The first step I do is create a new layer and fill it completely with black. Then mask it to your smart object and lower the opacity. This makes your image look more natural and less like it's glowing too brightly like a screen would - which your design will usually look like because it's a screenshot from a screen.

Next, create a new layer in Photoshop. Lower the opacity of your smart object so that it doesn't get in the way and you can see beneath it to the original photo. Then, using the brush tool, paint in the shadows the same way you see them in the original photo. If they're harsh and dark, paint them harsh and dark. If they're soft and light, paint them soft and light. You can always do many layers on top of each other and lower/raise the opacity of different layers until you're happy with the result. Try putting your shadow layers on the Multiply layer effect for a smoother result.

Step 4

Noise and Blur

Examine your original photo: Is there any depth of field blur where your design is? Is there any noise (grainy dots) in the photo? You want to match any of these parts of the photo in order to make your design fit in seamlessly.

To add blur, select your smart object and go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur. Since you're working on a smart object, the effect will become a new smart layer that can be masked and adjusted afterwards. Choose an appropriate blur radius for your photo. Then mask it out wherever necessary to match the original photo.

To add noise, select your smart object and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise. Since you're working on a smart object, the effect will become a new smart layer that can be masked and adjusted afterwards. Choose an Amount that matches your original photo.

Using a mockup is simple and seamless.


Additional reading:


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