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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Carlos

How to Make Your Own Mock-ups

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

Sure you can download free or paid mock-up images in several websites but what if you see the same image you used on Instagram or any social media? Obviously the odds of seeing that could be one in a thousand but it is possible. Here is a tutorial on how you can make mock-ups from sourced images as well as your own mock-up for your artwork.

"Monstera" by Michelle Carlos | Gouache and Acrylic | 2018

Part 1: Sourced image

So you don’t have time and budget to assemble a photo studio and you know that Google is your best friend. Just search for images even in your photo library and chances are you will find the perfect one. Just don’t spend the entire day looking for it's a rabbit hole down there. Remember your priorities.

You will need:

1. Your scanned artwork

2. Photoshop and some decent skills to work with it

3. An image for the mock-up

I’m using this monstera gouache painting as my image and the downloaded license free image from created by Graphicbrain. When using royalty free images, remember to always attribute your source. Sometimes the download packet comes with the directions on how to use their image. Be mindful that these images were created by actual people and some of them make a living out of them. Respect is crucial amongst creatives.

Also you may well note that there is a logo, sometimes a watermark, included on the image like this example. As an artist who wants to mock-up your own artwork and post it on social media, you might confuse people who will see the logo of somebody else together with your artwork. Don’t you dare erase that logo!

Another thing to remember is that you must choose an image that has the same layout or format as your artwork: is it portrait or landscape?

Some mock-up images come with a PSD file which makes it easier for you to just paste your artwork onto it like so:

Step 1: Open PSD file of mock-up image in Photoshop. You may ignore color profile mismatch. This only tells you the different working profile that the file was created into and your current workspace. This is not so important at the moment. Click OK. Photoshop converts automatically the image into the color profile of the workspace.

Step 2: Once the artwork image is imported, place and resize accordingly.

Et voilà! Easy peasy, eh? It saves so much time as well. But this tutorial is not about this kind of mock-up.

Part 2: Frame it

Having mentioned the possible scenarios when using online-sourced images, with the required attribution, logos, redundancy and all, you may start to wonder if there are other ways to make your mock-ups truly you. Also how often can you use this mock-up image anyway? Once? Twice? Always? Your followers will know that you have reused your framed picture for the nth time already.

Why don’t you just frame your artwork and hang it on your wall if you have the space and tools to do it? Not only can you replace the image as often as you want, you will also have many options to decorate or style your set-up.

DIY pictorial set-up

For this you will need:

1. Your artwork (actual or scanned)

2. A simple frame

3. A space on your (flat colored) wall or any part of your home

4. Any camera

5. Optional tripod

6. Optional plant or any accessory to spice it up

This is the same artwork actually photographed hanging on my wall. But wait, this is no longer a mock-up, you point out. Yes and no. If you have this image already, then you may be able to eliminate the original image and replace it with another artwork. Will get to that later. I suggest you set aside a few hours to just take pictures to allow you to stylize your shot and make various versions of it for future use.

A few things to remember when photographing your picture frame:

1. Natural light is best so do this in a well-lit area and daytime if possible. Glares and reflections are caused by the light hitting the glossy surface of the frame glass. Remove the glass for now.

2. Make your scene more interesting a-la lifestyle magazine pictorials by adding plants or objects in the foreground. This also adds production value onto your pictures.

3. Shadows appear when there are too many light sources and in this case the plant in the foreground casted the shadow onto the frame because the ceiling pin lights were on. You don't want to make your clean-ups later more complicated.

4. The same principle applies when you want no distractions from your main image, your artwork, so try to avoid overlapping foreground objects. You may mask this out later and it also depends on your preference, but it is better to keep things simple, right?

Much better...

5. Play around with the set-up like placing the framed artwork on the floor against the wall, on a table or a flat-lay scene with a nice surface like wood and don't forget to spice it up with props and use natural lighting. Use Photoshop or Lightroom or any photo editing app to adjust exposure, levels and/or colors.

A flat layout of the framed artwork

Part 3: Mock it up

Now that you have a framed image, you may now create your own framed artwork mock-ups. First, make sure you take high-resolution images, which you can set-up on your camera. My camera default is 300 dpi. Mobile phone cameras also take decent high resolution pictures now so that will also do. Whatever works!

Step 1: Open file in Photoshop and select image along the frame or mat/passe-partout (if there is one) inner border. Add a Layer Mask by clicking the icon at the bottom of the Layers pane.

Step 2: By adding the Layer mask, you will create a blank frame. To hide the current artwork and reveal the frame, invert the mask layer by selecting the mask and pressing COMMAND + I.

Step 3: You may also want to fix the mask as you deem necessary. Do that on the mask layer and draw a straight lasso tool line along the areas that need fixing. Add 1 pixel feathering if needed then fill with foreground black color by pressing ALT+ DELETE.

Step 4: Import new artwork onto workspace and resize accordingly.

woman floating in dark skies
"Dream" by Michelle Carlos | Watercolor | 2018

Step 5: To make the mock-up more realistic, study the shadows and highlights of your frame image then add shadows by using the blending mode effects, Drop Shadow. To do this, double click the frame layer (not the layer mask) and the Layer Style pane will appear. Adjust the drop shadow settings as you like, though minimal settings will suffice. Remember that the distance between the mat and the image is tight and you just want a short shadow cast onto your artwork. The direction of the shadow however is crucial.

And now, look at your assembled DIY framed artwork mock-up that you may use freely and as often as you want. You may change the background wall color, too. To do this have a look at my tutorial on removing backgrounds in Photoshop, and then add a hue adjustment layer and adjust settings as you like it. Enjoy creating!


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