| Have you ever seen a gorgeous lifestyle photo and thought, “wow, it'd be so great if I could place my gorgeous designs into that scene!” Well, now you can!
Today I'm going to show you how you can take an image that you've found online – either for free or by purchasing one – and add your own designs to it. This concept works for T-shirt designs, graphic design prints, cards and invitations, notebooks, totes, or any number of other items where the bulk of the beauty lies in the graphic design work happening behind the scenes.
Since custom mug designs are all the rage, I'm using a mug photo as my example today. I like to source my free commercial-use images from Pexels.com. So I went to Pexels and then in the search bar I typed in ‘coffee mug’ and it returned lots of cute results.
Results like this where we have a steep angle are going to be too hard for you, if you're new to Photoshop to just do as your first project so I wouldn't recommend starting with something like this. Try to find an image where there's a coffee mug that's fairly straight head on, like this one.
|I downloaded and saved that image, and then I opened up a new Photoshop file with it. Now I’m ready to add my design. It could be something created in another program like Photoshop, Illustrator, or Silhouette Studio. Or it could be typed up fresh, right in this new document.
The first time that you bring in your new design it's not going to be curved to shape the coffee mug, it's just going to be straight up and down so it's going to look something like this. We can see this is very much a square shape just sitting right on the mug.
|For this particular photo mockup, a straight non-curved design isn’t too bad laid right over the mug. You could probably get away with doing this. But there are a few things you can tweak to make it look better, like curving the text slightly to fit the shape of the mug. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of how to curve in Photoshop this time, but I want you to know that this is something that’s possible when you have the right tools and a little instruction. Right now we're looking at the plain square version.
If we curve the text slightly then it looks like this. It’s a subtle shift but if we don’t curve it, the eye will naturally pick up on how the image isn’t quite right. And if your design covers a larger area of the mug, it becomes glaringly obvious when the shape is wrong.
|Once your design is placed, you can go in and do a few more things to blend it into the scene. I like to alter the overall color of the image by editing the hue and saturation. I’ve already created that layer – If I turn that on you'll see how the image overall changes.
It just is a little bit more desaturated and looks a little bit more interesting instead of looking like I just tacked some red text on top of an image. Also notice that this coffee mug has a highlighted corner like the light is coming from the upper left. And there’s a shadow on the lower right of the mug.
|To make the text fit in more naturally with this shading I went ahead and added another layer so the highlight is on top of the text instead of hidden underneath it. This looks way more natural.
One of the fancier things that I did to this template file is to use something called a Smart Object. This is a special layer, that when double-clicked, opens in a new tab. You can edit the image there, save it, and then the design is updated in the main image. So, when I made the shape that fits the mug I turned it into a smart object. My smart object shape fits the curve of my mug so I can add anything I want in there and it will curve all by itself to fit the mug. If I didn’t have a smart object, then whenever I wanted to create a new mug mockup I’d have to use Photoshop to stretch and manipulate that new design to fit the curve. This is wasted time! Why fit the curve 30 times for 30 designs, when you can add 30 designs to a special layer that you only need to curve once? Time is money, right?! 😀
If I save the file then the asterisk goes away to show that it's saved. Then if I go back to the original file, you can see that it's now updated to be blue. Very, very easy.
What do you think? Are you ready to create your own gorgeous mock-ups? I'd love to see what you come up with! Feel free to share them in the comments!
Sarah Guilliot is an expert in Photoshop mockups and beautiful images. She helps Etsy Shop Owners use their images to strategically sell more of their digital designs. You can find her at SarahDesign.com