Take Mockups To The Next Level With Premium Templates And Smart Objects


By: Drew McManus

In case you missed Ceci Dadisman’s 1/16/2015 ArtsHack on creating easy mockup images so as to help refine your communication efforts, make sure you give it a look. Think of this post as a pro-user companion piece in that we’re going to look at some mockup resources that provide beefed up options and customization as well as cover how to use Smart Objects in Adobe Photoshop in order to take advantage of all that premium awesome.

The resource listed in Ceci’s post, Magic Mockups, provides some terrific staged environments and if you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud user, you can find similar mockups available as part of your subscription. Just do a search for “mockup” in the Creative Cloud app and start narrowing it down from there. But one thing you’ll discover is that most of these templates only allow you to place a screencap into the respective device but don’t offer any way to edit other items in the file.

If you have a budget and can spend anywhere from $5 – $15 per template, sources such as GraphicRiver.net provide some stunningly diverse and flexible premium options (do a search for mockups). The requirements for most files are fairly straightforward:

  • Adobe Photoshop (CS6 or CC).
  • A computer with a graphics processor capable of handling print level quality image files.
  • Being comfortable working with Smart Objects.

If the last item seems like a dealbreaker, no worries, Smart Objects are super easy to use. Here’s an example using the mockup that appears here at ArtsHacker in a number of variations.

Master Smart Objects the Easy Way

Step 1
1) Choose Smart Objects Layer> Double-click the thumbnail icon.
Steps 2 - 4
2) This will open up that layer in a new tab.
3) Edit content as desired, in this instance, I will end up replacing the “click click done” text with a screencap of Ceci’s Magic Mockups post.
4) Save file (Ctl+S).
Step 5
5) When you flip back to the original template tab, the new image now appears inside the mockup.

You can also visit Adobe’s official instructions which provide a wealth of additional info on what else can be done with Smart Objects.

Get Fancy

Using this same file, here’s an overview of how much more you can edit in something like a premium mockup.

Get Fancy

Each individual item is contained within a mutually exclusive layer group, allowing you to move the item anywhere within the mockup and/or add a variety of filters. Moreover, you can edit each item to your heart’s desire and skill set.

Using this file as an example, I created several versions with items relocated, or even removed, in order to accommodate image dimension requirements for platforms like a Twitter or Facebook header image (both of which require different aspect ratios).

I then helped customize the image in order to add some personality that coincided with intended use (i.e projected “ArtsHacker” in a visual sense).

Make it yours
This premium template had a notebook with blank pages (left) but the version on the right shows all of the additional items added to the layer in order to enhance the personal nature of the image.


Drew McManus
Drew McManus
In addition to my consulting business, I'm also the Principal of Venture Industries Online but don’t let that title fool you into thinking I'm just a tech geek. I bring 20+ years of global broad-based arts consulting experience to the table to help clients break the cycle of choosing one-size-fits-none solutions and instead, deliver options allowing them to get ahead of the tech curve instead of trying to catch up by going slower. With the vision of legacy support strategy and the delights of creative insights, my mission is to deliver a sophisticated next generation technology designed especially for the field of performing arts. The first step in that journey began in 2010 when The Venture Platform was released, a purpose-designed managed website development solution designed especially for arts organizations and artists. For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, lead a team of intrepid arts pros to hack the arts, lead an arts business incubator, and love a good coffee drink.
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