Using Mockups to Enhance Presentations

As a designer, there are few things more appealing than a well crafted logo isolated on a sea of white space. Free from all other visual distraction, all focus is on the design. But that’s not a logo’s natural habitat. Logos live in the real world; on letterheads and business cards, on websites, on billboards and t-shirts and coffee mugs – basically everywhere except vast, uninterrupted fields of white.

So why then, when sending concepts to a client, is it customary to send them in this stark fashion? It’s true that it’s important for the client to see your designs in a distraction-free setting but it is a much more accurate representation of how a logo will eventually look if it is given some environmental context.

This is why I’ve developed the habit of sending concepts along with a version of the design placed in real life mockups. It adds an extra level of legitimacy to the presentation. This includes print designs as well as logo designs. Showing a logo in a real-world application or a brochure, business card, etc. with dimension and perspective will help a client visualize what the end product will look like. And any time you can add to a client’s understanding and expectations of an end result, it’s a good thing.

If you’re concerned this will add too much extra work to your already busy schedule, fear not. Once again, the internet is here to help. There are countless resources for downloadable PSD mockups for just about any format you could need. Most of these contain replaceable Smart Objects which is essentially drag-and-drop mockup building.

Some of my most visited sources for mockups are:

GraphicBurger – tons of free mockups for everything from logos and stationery sets to device screens to exterior signage.

GraphicRiver – pages and pages of mockups with a lot of unique items, all for a few dollars apiece.

Creative Market – more expensive than the previous two but some of the most thorough mockups, plus a vast array of other useful graphic elements.

Or if none of those work for you there’s no shortage of other options. Ask Google.

If you’ve never used replaceable Smart Objects let me enlighten you, because they’re brilliantly simple. Say you’ve got a PSD mockup for a business card design. If you found a decent one you’ll see that the layer containing the card content is a Smart Object. If you double-click the Smart Object icon in the Layers panel a new window will open. You can then replace the existing content in this new window with your business card design. Then just save (not Save As) and when you return to the mockup file you will see that your design has been placed in the mockup and fit to the perspective of the layout. Occasionally, a bit of extra tweaking is necessary but that is essentially it.

 

But you don’t have to rely on pre-made mockups. It’s easy enough to build your own, on-brand, and then you have a consistent presentation for all the concepts you send out. Once you have the base image, say a stack of business cards, you can place a business card design in the image, convert that layer to a Smart Object, then alter it to fit to the surface of the cards. After the layer is converted to a Smart Object it will remember all of the adjustments you make. Then you can replace the design the same way I’ve described above.

Try it out. I think you’ll find it’ll give your concept and pitch presentations added impact.