One of the reasons why I just love the dye sublimation business is because I can create new products without any actual hard costs, by using digital product mockups.
By superimposing your new design in a realistic way onto a mockup photo, you are essentially creating a new product, but don’t have to go through the expense of actually making the physical product and truth be told, the photos are usually better.
**Please note that this applies to WELL MADE mockups. I’ve heard a lot of people say that mockups don’t do as well as real photos, and to that my only answer is… a well-done mockup should look like it IS a photo of a real item. Also, for Etsy, if you use a mockup it must be an actual photo of the actual item.
You can create an entire product line for only the cost of the mockups themselves. This allows you to test out designs and put them out there for sale without risk.
This is important because I can tell you one thing – the designs you think will be hot, are NOT… and the designs you think are not so awesome will probably end up being your best sellers. It’s weird that way.
Not only that, but it allows you to play around with various ways to place your designs on fiddly products (like phone cases that have cutouts that need to be accommodated).
If you aren’t using them yet, start now! You can buy them quite inexpensively these days or create your own. You don’t need expensive software to do it, either – I do mine with Gimp (free!) and I’ve linked a tutorial at the bottom of this post.
I don’t always do my own, but for smaller items it works great. However, for some items I do prefer to use purchased images. My photography skills leave much to be desired, so anything that can’t be photographed flat I generally try to buy a mockup for.
Making your own is perfect for the more unique items that you can’t find an existing mockup for, so whether you buy one or make one really depends on what your needs are.
A lot of the time you can buy mockups that are full PSD files with Smart Object – a way for you to paste your design in and have the software automatically stretch, warp, and modify it so that it looks realistic. They will sometimes cost around $20 but in my experience are well worth it. You can also find mockups for as little as $5. Well worth the investment!
Where I’ve Found Mockups
Graphic River (by Envato)
I am a huge fan of Graphic River
. While not the cheapest option, GR’s mockups are top-notch quality. Here are a couple ones I particularly recommend looking at:
- They have one seller (Colatudo) who sells fantastic phone case mockups. They have a bundle of all the main ones – iPhone, Galaxy and Note, and when you buy them by the bundle it’s under $1 per mockup. I cannot even stress how thrilled I was to find this bundle – if you sell phone cases, you MUST check this out. The phone case image to the side is one from this bundle. (click here to view)
- Something I discovered there are some photographers putting their skills to use and doing full-on professional photo shoots, and then editing the files so that you can quite literally add your design in via Smart Object (Photoshop only) and when you do this it really literally looks like the model is wearing your shirt – very realistic. A few of my favorites are here, here, and here.
is another fantastic graphics website – not the cheapest option out there either, but similarly to Graphic River, very high quality graphics. Here’s what I adore about CM:
- One benefit of Creative Marketplace is that they often have HUGE bundles you can buy. I’m still waiting for the giant sublimation bundle!
- They also have lots of “scene creator” bundles which basically allow you to create your own scene in a room, on a desk, etc. These Wall Art Mockups, for example, are perfect for those of you who sell wall decals!
- One other thing I love browsing through is they have some absolutely gorgeous frame mockups, for those of you who do vinyl on frames, canvases or similar items. There are too many for me to really choose any specifically that stand out but I have to reiterate – they are GORGEOUS!
I’m a big fan of Graphicstock
, for many reasons. They are a subscription service and while they don’t have a ton of uber-realtistic mockups yet, they do have some and combined with the beautiful photographs and stunning vector backgrounds, clipart, and more (all OK for commercial use, of course), that’s a subscription that’s worth every penny.
has some really great photographers who take a nice variety of mockups. I’m particularly fond of all the coffee mug mockups
they have! They are modeled and realistic, but taken at such an angle that it’s easy to add a design and it really looks realistic. The prices range all over the place, but generally you will get what you pay for on these. They have soft floral themes, rustic wood backgrounds, coffee bean backgrounds, plain white, you name it.
This isn’t one I’ll link to any place specific, but I wanted to also mention that I know most shirt manufacturers like Fruit of the Loom, Gildan, and more (of the basic shirts people usually use for vinyl transfers) have basic shirt mockups of their products that are available for free. This is something to Google depending on the brand and model shirt you use, but a lot of them do so make sure you check there first.
Those are the places I’ve bought graphics from – do you have any to add to the list? Put it in the comments and I’ll add it up here!