Learn how to showcase your work and impress your clients with this quick guide to mocking up a design.

Cover image via Shutterstock.

You can use Photoshop to create presentable and remarkable mockups that impress your client and win their approval. In this tutorial, we will mock up a design on a poster.


Step One: Open the Mockup Image of Your Choice

First, we will use a Shutterstock mockup found here. It is best to source high quality photos to ensure precise placement of your design. We will begin by opening up the jpeg file in Adobe Photoshop.

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Open Mockup Image

Step Two: Create Guides to Draw Out Shape

Guides, or rulers, ensure accurate placement and dimensions of a shape. Press Cmd+R to activate the ruler bar at the top of the workspace, and then click and drag to place them on the document. These guides will default to a light blue color. Because this mockup displays a poster in an interior environment, the shape will be slightly skewed, meaning you might want to place more guides to indicate each corner of the frame. 

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Create Guides

Step Three: Draw Out Rectangular Shape

Select U or navigate the sidebar for the Rectangle Tool to create a rectangular shape for the design. It is best to set the shape as a dark color to differentiate it from the poster frame. The shape does not need to be accurate, as we will manipulate the corners later. 

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Rectangle Tool

Step Four: Lock Smart Guides

It’s best to lock the guides so you don’t accidentally move them around. You can access this feature from the View drop down menu.

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Lock Smart Guides

Step Five: Manipulate Your Shape with the Free Transform Tool

Once the smart guides are locked, you can now manipulate the rectangle. Press Cmd+T to access the Free Transform tool; when this tool is activated, the corners of the shape will appear. To maneuver the corners, press Cmd and click and drag the specified corner to the edges of the poster frame. The cursor will appear as a white arrow when manipulating individual corners.

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Free Transform Tool

Step Six: Convert Shape to a Smart Object

When you are satisfied with the shape and placement of your rectangle, go to the Layers menu on the right-hand side and click on the drop down menu on the outside edge of the Photoshop document. Then select Convert to Smart Object, which converts the rectangle to a vector shape rather than a raster, or pixel, shape. After you click on the Smart Object layer, you will be directed to another document. 

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Create Smart Object

Step Seven: Place Your Design into the Smart Object Document

After you place your design in Photoshop, click Cmd+A to select the full design. To copy the design, press Cmd+C and then click over to the smart object document and paste with Cmd+V. Use the Free Transform tool with Cmd+T, as discussed earlier, to resize your design if needed. To ensure proper scaling, make sure to hold down Shift when resizing. Hit Save or Cmd+S when finished with your placement, and then navigate to the original mockup document.

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Smart Object Document

Step Eight: View Design in Smart Object Layer

The Smart Object layer is truly a magnificent tool. You can see that your design is now placed in the poster frame through the Rectangle Smart Object layer. Although the mockup may look perfectly adequate, it will need some minor adjustments to make the design feel more natural.

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Smart Object Layer

Step Nine: Add Multiply Adjustment

Apply the Multiply adjustment to allow the shadows of the poster frame to show through in the design. This is found right under the Layers tab on the right side of the program. Then you can view the final product without guides by selecting Cmd+;

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Add Multiply Adjustment

How to Quickly Mock Up Your Designs in Adobe Photoshop – Final

After completing all of the steps above, your mockup should look similar to this. While this tutorial instructs you on how to mockup a design on a simple poster, the possibilities are endless. These techniques, when applied, will work for other mockups, such as on a computer screen, a billboard, or packaging.

Need to create mockups and other designs, but don’t have access to Photoshop? Try Shutterstock Editor, a powerful design application that’s also easy to use. Search the Shutterstock collection and upload your own content, then use tools for text, filters, shapes, and more to bring your design to life.