Drawing a Photo Realistic Mockup of Boxes Using Photoshop

How to Make a Mockup in Adobe Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial, we will create a display of 3D software boxes, but in practice we could also use this process for any box.



Our Photoshop mockup here is very flexible. We can add a reflection on the floor, change its background color, and so on. We will also use smart layers which will allow us to easily edit the content in just a few clicks. Let’s begin!


Final Image

This is the mockup that we are going to design. It has a reflection, editable background color, and smart layer content.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 1: Preparation

To make a convincing mockup, you need to make sure that the scene is accurate. A bit of knowledge on drawing techniques and concept of perspective will help you. Another solution is photographing real boxes and use it as a reference for your drawing. You can also use 3D software to create a standard scene and then render it for later reference in Photoshop. Any technique is great.

Here, I took my ballpoint and drew a simple sketch of boxes on paper, scanned it, and then exported it to Photoshop.

Make new file, size 1,000 px x 600 px and then paste the scanned image.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 2

As seen on the reference image, we are going to draw three boxes. We may end up with tens or maybe hundreds of layers so it is always a good habit to keep them organized by keeping layers in appropriate group layers. Hit Ctrl + G to make group layer. Make one for the first box, and then another for the second and third boxes.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 3: How to Draw Basic Shapes

We are going to utilize vector tools for drawing basic shapes. Activate the Pen Tool (P), set its color to any light color, and then select Shape mode in the Options Bar. We use a light color to help us easily differentiate the shape from its background. Any color is acceptable.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 4

Click to draw the front face of the first box. Make sure you place the shape inside the box 1 group layer.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 5

Again, draw the side face of the box. This time use a different light color.


How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 6

We need to add lighting onto the surface. We prefer to use a Layer Style because it is easily editable. Double click the layer to open up the Layer Style dialog box.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 7

In the next dialog box, activate Gradient Overlay. Use the default black to white gradient with Overlay blend mode. Set the correct angle depending on the imaginary light source position you want to use. The Opacity setting will control the strength of the light source.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 8

Repeat the same step to the side face. Add a Gradient Overlay onto its surface.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 9: How to Draw Shadow

To achieve a realistic scene, we will need to add a shadow underneath the box. Make a new layer and place it below the box’s side. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to make a selection underneath the box. Fill the selection with black.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 10

Apply a Gaussian Blur, Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Use enough Radius to soften the shadow.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 11

In our case, the imaginary light source is placed near enough to the box so that we need to add another soft shadow. Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, draw a selection and then fill it with black.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 12

Soften it using the Gaussian Blur filter.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 13

Erase the end of the shadow using the Eraser Tool until it fades away.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 14

Reduce the layer’s Opacity to 10 or 15%.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 15

Repeat the same process to add another faint shadow on the opposite side.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 16: Drawing The Second Box

Let’s continue with the second box. Hide the first box by clicking on its eye icon on the Layers Panel. As with the first box, we also need to draw its basic shape first. For this box, we need three faces, which are front, side, and bottom.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 17

Just as the previous box, we need to add a Gradient Overlay. You will have to adjust the Angle and Opacity setting to match the light source position and strength.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 18

Let’s draw its shadow. Make a new layer and then make a selection underneath the box using the Polygonal Lasso Tool. Fill the selection with black and then soften it using the Gaussian Blur filter.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 19

We can enhance the box to appear more realistic by adding a bigger and softer shadow. Duplicate the shadow layer by clicking Ctrl + J. Apply a stronger Gaussian Blur.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 20

Tone down its Opacity to keep it subtle.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 21

This is the result we have for the two boxes.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 22: The Third Box

We’re moving on to the third box. Draw the shape using the Pen Tool.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 23

Add another Gradient Overlay layer style.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 24

The third box is stacked on the second box and this makes the shadow a bit complicated. So, reveal the first box to find out where the shadow will fall.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 25

Make a new layer. Paint a soft shadow between the second and third box. Use a small brush.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 26

Erase any unneeded shadow using the Eraser Tool. You may want to reduce its Opacity to keep the shadow subtle.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 27

We also need to draw a shadow on the other side of the second box. Draw a selection and then fill it with black. See picture below for reference.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 28

Soften it by applying a Gaussian Blur.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 29

You can use the Blur Tool and the Eraser Tool to paint over the furthest shadow to make it softer. Reduce the layer’s Opacity.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 30

We want it to be a bit softer. Select the furthest part of the shadow. Soften the selection, click Select > Modify > Feather.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 31

Apply another Gaussian Blur.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 32

Make a new layer. Paint another shadow on the opposite side. Erase any unneeded pixels using the Eraser Tool.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 33

So far, this is what we have.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Reveal all the boxes to review the final scene.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 34

I think we need to add a shadow to the second box. Make another new layer inside the second box group layer. Make a selection, fill it with black, and then soften it by applying a Gaussian Blur.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 35

Reduce the shadow’s Opacity.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 36: Importing The Designs

For this mockup, we need three designs which are for the front face, side face, and bottom face.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Export each design as one flat layer into the mockup PSD. Its size should be a bit bigger than the face in the mockup. You don’t want it to be too big to prevent jaggies in the transformation process.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

These all are the designs we’re going to use in the mockup. They all need to be separated onto their own layers.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 37

Convert each design into a smart layer. Right click and select Convert to Smart Object. Do this for each design.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 38

For easier handling, put them in a group layer and place it on the upper part of the layer stack. We won’t directly edit them, so we can put them out of sight by clicking on their group layer’s eye icon.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 39: Applying Designs Into The Mockup

For the first box, we need front and side face. Duplicate the front and side layer we have exported earlier by hitting Ctrl + J. Place both in the box 1 group layer.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 40

Select the front face layer. Hit Ctrl + T to apply transformation. Right click and choose Distort.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 41

Pull the corner until the box’ front face is covered. It is helpful to reduce the layers’ Opacity so you can see the shape behind it while adjusting the corner. You don’t have to put the corner at exactly the same point. Make it a bit bigger just as in the image below.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 42

Make sure the front design layer is placed right above the front face layer. Hit Ctrl + Alt + G to convert it into a Clipping Mask. The design will perfectly snap inside the box. Increase the Opacity to 100% again.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 43

Repeat the same procedure for the side face.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 44

If you look closely, you may find some imperfections on alignment between the two faces. We can fix it by applying another transformation.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 45

Hit Ctrl + T. Right click and then select Warp. Pull the appropriate points to fix their alignment.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 46

Repeat previous steps to add the design onto the second box’ faces.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 47

This goes on to the third box.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 48

We’re pretty much done now. But there are some tricks we can add to enhance this mockup.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 49: Easy Way to Change The Mockup’s Background Color

We need to add an easy way to change the mockup’s background. Add an Adjustment Layer Solid Color by clicking white and black circle icon at the bottom of the Panel Layers. Select gray color in the pop up dialog box.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 50

Add a Gradient Overlay to the adjustment layer we have just added earlier.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop
How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 51

Above the Solid Color adjustment layer, add Adjustment Layer Hue/Saturation. Select the Colorize option. Just by sliding the available sliders, now you can easily change the background color.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 52: How to Edit the Design Content

Let’s go for a test drive. To change the front face design, double click the front smart layer.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 53

The front face design is opened as a separate individual file. Edit this design anyway you like. Here, I changed the color theme and added an icon from iconfinder.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 54

Save the new design and then close it. Return to the mockup PSD file. You will find that the front design is automatically updated. All three of them.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 55

Continue editing the other faces.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 56: Adding Reflections

As you can see, we are technically done designing the mockup. But, we can enhance it further by adding reflections. In the current scene, we need four faces for the boxes’ reflection, which is the front and side face of the first box and the side and bottom face of the second box. Duplicate those layers by selecting each and clicking Ctrl + J.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 57

Put them all in an appropriate group layer which is nested in another group layer for easier layer management.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 58

Activate the side face of the first box and then hit Ctrl + T to enter the transformation process. Since this is a smart layer, we can still have the original transformation bounding box. All we need to do is just drag the top center handle downward. Once we’re satisfied with the result, hit the Enter key.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 59

Do the same for its front face.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 60

You already know the drill, get on with the second box.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 61

Take a closer look and you may find a gap between the reflection and its original face. Of course, we don’t want it. You can just simply move them up a bit until it is completely covered by the real box.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 62

Add a mask to the reflection group layer of the first box. Fill it with black to hide everything and then paint over areas right below the box to reveal the reflection. Make sure you use soft and big Brush.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 63

Do the same for the second box’s reflection.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 64

Reduce the Opacity of the main reflection’s group layer to keep its appearance subtle.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 65: Optimizing The Mockup File

So far, this is the current layer’s configuration. We need to optimize the layers to keep the file as small and effective as possible.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 66

First thing we can do is flatten the complicated image into a single layer. The shadows were made from a few layers. Right click the layers and hit Ctrl + E to merge them into one flat layer. If they have been organized into a group layer, you can directly right click its group layer and then hit Ctrl + E.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 67

We also don’t need the original Background. We already have an adjustment layer Solid Color background We can just delete it by dragging Background onto the recycle icon.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Step 68: The Many Possibilities of Scenes in the Mockup

Yes, we’re done! This is our final result. Complete with reflection and other enhancements. There are many possibilities for this mockup.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Here, we hide the reflection by removing the eye icon from its group layer.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

We can only show two boxes, second and first, by clicking on the eye icon of the third box.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

If we want to, we could just hide the second and third boxes.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Or maybe show the second and third boxes only.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Just need the second box? You have it. Of course we can not show the third box alone because it will be awkward.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

You can also reveal the reflection of the second box.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop

Final Result

There you go. As you can see, making your own mockup is not so hard. I hope you learned new techniques from this tutorial, especially on building a compact but flexible mockup. You can also freely use the mockup that is available in this tutorial for your projects.

How to Make a Mockup in Photoshop