How to Design Packaging With Digital Mockups

How do designers mockup presentation quality packaging concepts? There are many sites to download stock images and even request specific packaging designs. But the most popular site is Yellow Images, they offer mockups for everything from fashion & food to vehicles & websites, but most importantly they offer a lot of packaging in multiple views.

Mockups: The easy-to-use toolbox must-haves for packaging designers.

How easy are these mockups to use? Super easy, as long as you have access to Photoshop you’re ready to rock. First, you create an account and search for the type of packaging you need. Yellow Images also allows you to download free mockups to test PSDs, either a Glass Sauce Jar, or a Water Bottle. Download your free mockup today and follow the step by step guide below to begin creating presentation-ready packaging mockups.

How To Use PSD Mockups

Open your mockup in Adobe Photoshop. Mockups are .Tif files with each design element including shadows and highlights separated onto their own layer. Note: don’t rearrange, merge, or flatten layers without saving your file with a new name, I personally add “_Rev2.tif” to the file name. Also, don’t adjust your setup from RGB to CMYK as you’ll lose the richness of your presentation renders.

The green line and blue grid visible when your .Tif is opened, allows you to align artwork vertically and horizontally while maintaining a realistic wrap with minimal distortion.

Main sections of the mockup are organized into folders allowing you the ultimate in control

How To Begin Designing With Packaging Mockups

In the case of the can mockup shown here, you will click open the folder for the body of the package structure you are aiming to edit. Here we’ll open the “Can” folder revealing the layers that make up the can’s render. You’ll see there are Highlights, Shadows, Label Design, and Can Color distinctly organized and labeled. Highlights and shadows are editable you can adjust their contrast, saturation, even erase areas that may interfere with your design. There are no limitations when designing packaging for presentation, the goal is to communicate your concept and message clearly.

The “Can” folder contains everything you need to create a realistic render.

You’re also able to alter the base color of the package by clicking on the “Can Color” layer. This brings up the color picker and allows you to select your choice of color, the fact that it’s visible while you’re changing the color makes it easy to decide what will present your concept best. 

Click “Can Color” to adjust the base color of the can to fit the needs of the design

How To Apply Graphics To Packaging Mockups in Photoshop

This post isn’t about the actual design process, but how to apply your designs or concepts to renders. So we’ll assume you have your graphics ready, or know how to design directly within the Adobe environment.

Clicking the “Label Design” layer will open the smart object in a new window within Photoshop. What you see here is the same blue grid and green center line presented flat and to scale. You can decide what works best for you, either design on new layers above the blue grid, or hide the blue grid and freestyle it on new layers.

This file is forever linked to the render, meaning that if you want to show multiple options to clients or want to work on multiple options simultaneously I recommend that you resave the original .Tif with new names. The layers within the .Tif will connect correctly and you can design as many as you like. 

I prefer to copy and paste the contents of the “Label Design” layer into a new Adobe Illustrator document as I prefer to design in vector at the appropriate proportions. It just works for me, there isn’t a right or wrong way, just what’s fastest in your own process.

Artwork within Photoshop can be altered, resized, repositioned, and colorized quickly and easily. Save your file without renaming and open the 3D render to see it update.

By placing your artwork over the grid you can align elements, scale them, and determine where you want them to show on the wrap of your render. Work in RGB in order to maintain color integrity for digital presentations.

Here I copy and paste my layouts back into Photoshop, especially if I’m working with type I prefer to use illustrator. But if what I’m working on is more image heavy, I may work directly in the render file. Each designer is different as is each project’s needs. Try everything and only keep what works for you. Once your artwork is positioned in the flat “Label Design” file, turn off your blue grid layer and save. Don’t rename the file or change the file type.  Keep your window open so you can go back and make any edits you need to your design to present it in its best light.

Your .Tif file has been auto-populated by your new design. Now you can adjust the position to make sure branding is forward facing, and any key elements of the package design are clearly visible. You can adjust the shadows and highlights, reposition the can, and add new shadows or adjust the background color. Click on the “Background” layer and you’ll be able to adjust the color of the background as easily as you did for the can’s body.

Experiment with lighting, effects, textures, and layouts to make your designs stand out. Client presentations require a professional presentation to cut through the clutter and allow them to make a decision. Make sure to use a similar background style when showing multiple concepts in order for clients to focus on your design and not be distracted by environmental elements.

Download your free trial renders from Yellow Images and post your designs, if you have any questions in working with renders feel free to post them in the comments. 

Renders are a large part of my process when design packaging, but it’s not the first part.  Concept development begins with strategy before creating anything visual. The Canna Water concept shown in this design is a design and marketing idea built around the “Canna” term, short for cannabis and how it could be leveraged for the beverage market. Canna Monster Energy, Canna Budweiser, or Canna Coke just seems to roll off your tongue like you’ve been saying it all your life. Makes me wonder why nobody’s used it, or I haven’t seen it yet

Make something you love and share it. 

Evelio Mattos - Creative Director

Named “One of the 200 Best Packaging Designers” by Lurzer’s Archive, and Graphic Design USA's "Designers to Watch", Evelio is an industry recognized packaging design expert. He's a creative producer known for strategically bridging package design and sustainability, with flawless manufacturing. Evelio’s passion for designing and engineering memorable unboxing experiences for global brands and consumers, can be seen in his creative collaborations with some of the world's most sought after brands.

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