How to Apply Your Designs to a Photoshop Mockup Template Using Smart Objects

How to Apply Your Designs to a Photoshop Mockup Template Using Smart Objects
Posted on 11/18/16 in

Some of the most popular freebies on The Creative Feed are product mockups, and for good reason. It's very rewarding to send your design work through production and see the finished project in the real world.

Mockup templates let you preview that experience, without going through the time, cost, and hassle associated with production.

This tutorial will show you how to apply your own custom designs to a Photoshop mockup template using Smart Objects.


Step 1

First you need a mockup to work with. For this tutorial, we'll be using one of the templates from the Hardcover Book Mockups Volume 2 set, found on our site.


Step 2

Open your PSD mockup, and take a look at the Layers panel in Photoshop. If you don't see the layers panel, click Window > Layers to make it appear.

You'll notice a variety of layers, depending on how complex your mockup is. Some mockups use only a couple of layers, while others, like this one, may have more.

Note: This particular mockup template has 3 Smart Object layers named "YOUR DESIGN". It is specially set up to allow you to change the front cover, spine, and back cover independently. Many mockups will only have 1 Smart Object you need to edit.

The magic to mockups is that they use Photoshop Smart Objects. "Smart Object" is just a fancy way of saying "file within a file". They are essentially a PSD document embedded into the main PSD file on your computer.

To open and edit the contents of a Smart Object, double click the image thumbnail in the Layers panel, and the contents will open as a new window in Photoshop. You can also right click the name of the layer in the Layers panel and select "Edit Contents".


Step 3

Some mockups come with a basic placeholder design, but we're starting from a blank design in this tutorial.

If there is a placeholder design in your Smart Object, hide or delete the placeholder layers and create your own design.

You can either create your new design directly in the Smart Object document, or create a new file, matching the height, width, and PPI of the Smart Object canvas, which can later be pasted into the Smart Object as a flattened image.

I prefer to work on my designs in a completely separate document and paste them in as a flattened image when they are complete.

Below is the design I've pasted into the Smart Object window for our book mockup.


Step 4

Save and close the Smart Object document and the mockup automatically updates with the new design integrated perfectly.

The image thumbnail in the Layers panel also updates to reflect any changes.

In some mockups, all you need to do is copy and paste your artwork into a single Smart Object, hit save, and your done. Other mockups, like this one, can be a bit more involved for further customization.


Step 5

As mentioned previously, this particular mockup has multiple Smart Object layers, allowing you to create separate designs for the front cover, spine, and back cover.

We're simply going to copy and paste in the same artwork for all 3 Smart Objects.

Save and close each Smart Object, and again, the mockup and Layers panel thumbnails update automatically.

The best part about Smart Objects is that you can re-open and edit them at any time.


The Final Mockup

Most mockups are very high resolution, so you can crop and zoom to show off specific areas in better detail.

This particular mockup also has shadows and lighting effects on separate layers, so you can increase/decrease the Opacity of each layer to further customize the final image.

You may also come across mockups with special layers affecting color tone and contrast, or some that let you change colors of individual elements, and even background textures.

Once you understand how Smart Objects work, the best thing you can do is play around with all the layers to see what each one does.


Did this tutorial help you understand Smart Objects and mockup templates? Do you have any other questions? Let us know in the comments.