Tutorial: How to Make A Product Mockup From Your Own Photo Using Gimp

DIY Dye Sublimation Product Mockup From Your PhotoMaking your own product mockup for dye sublimation or vinyl/HTV products is actually quite a bit simpler than you’d expect, particularly if the item is small and can be photographed flat.

Today, I’ll show you how to make a product mockup from your own photo using Gimp, a free software.
DIY mockups have the advantage of being exactly the product you sell (which means you can use them on Etsy!).
While, admittedly, I’m a huge fan of professionally made mockups, one of the problems I’ve found in using mockups is often you simply can’t get one that is an accurate representation of your product.
Making your own eliminates that issue, and you will only use up one of your items. It’s actually quite simple. The above keychain is one of mine, and I’ll show you right now how I made it using one blank, free software, and a $5 Fiverr gig. 
Okay, for the record, I fully realize that it can be done without the Fiverr gig but… seriously, it was $5. Totally worth it.

The Photo Process

  1. Sublimate your item with a solid, bright color. I prefer using the “green screen” color (hex #00ff00) which is easy to remove digitally.
  2. Photograph it laying flat against a white background (I use a white poster board sheet). If the item doesn’t work well flat (like a travel mug), then set it upright onto the board, curving the back of the white sheet/board upwards so that no seams are in view behind the item. My photography skills are also not super, so here’s my original, unretouched (but yes, watermarked for this blog!) photo, just for the record:How to make Dye Sublimation Product Mockup
  3. I then take the photo, and pay a guy $5 on Fiverr to retouch it. I ask him to do the following:
    1. Remove the background completely to transparent (this allows me to superimpose any background I want – from a plain white, a rustic wood, cute digital paper – whatever I want)
    2. Remove the green part completely to transparent (which will allow me to superimpose my designs at will)
    3. Add back in realistic shadows digitally (since he will have removed the natural ones already).
    4. Brighten colors if necessary (depends on the product)

     My Part of the Creation Process

    Then, using Gimp, I create my mockup file as follows:
  1. Open the edited photo, and resize it to a smaller more manageable size. I tend to prefer roughly 750px wide for my mockups. We will call this layer “KC-1.”
  2. Using guides, get it properly centered if your picture was off center or crooked.Making DIY Dye Sublimation Mockups
  3. Create a new white layer on top of the edited photo and name it “BG” and then hide the layer so you can see KC-1.
  4. Click the KC-1 layer, and use the Free Select tool to select just outside the transparent PRINTABLE area (the part that used to be green). I selected right about in the middle of the metal border around the printable area (you can see my first couple points as circles on the metal).Make Your Own Product Mockup
  5. While the selection is still selected, select the BG layer, unhide it, and press the “delete” key. You should see the white layer has a cutout hole where the printable area will be and you should be able to barely see the edges of the item (in my case, the metal sides of the keychain) visible through the hole.Making a DIY product Mockup
  6. Now, click and drag the BG layer in the layers dialog to be underneath the KC-1 layer. You should now see the keychain (or product) in better detail and only see a transparent part in the printable area, all else should be white.Dye Sublimation Mockups
  7. Create another white layer, place it at the very bottom and rename it if desired (mine is “Background”). Now, it should look very realistic, as if it was an unprinted blank.DIY Product Mockups for Dye Sublimation
  8. Press Ctrl+alt+o (or click File-Open As Layers) to open a dialog for your design print file that you have already prepared for your product demo. In this case, I’m using a gray & aqua chevron monogram design. This will open it as a new layer in your file, instead of in its own separate file.DIY Product Mockup Tutorial
  9. Click the Scale Tool, then click the design image. You will get a “scale” dialog and your image will have boxes all over it. You can click and drag a corner of the design to scale it down. Make sure the little chain links next to “width” and “height” are connected in the scale dialog and the image will keep its proportion. The idea is to get it just barely bigger than the printable area in your photo.How to make your own product mockup
  10. Once you have it correctly sized, click and drag the layer in the layers dialog to be right in between the Background and BG layers, and center it how you want. Make sure all layers are visible.How to make your own product mockup
  11. Add in your logo or watermark, making it the very top layer. You want to do this, even if you aren’t concerned about theft, because the image will get passed around and this way people can always find you.(I say this because have literally seen un-watermarked photos of my items posted on huge Facebook pages and the comments “WHERE CAN I BUY THAT?” just made me cringe. If I’d just had my business name on the picture, I woulda been an easy Google away… I don’t want to think of how many sales I lost because of not marking my photos)How to make your own product mockup
  12. Voila! A gorgeous, realistic looking mockup. It even has realistic shadows on the inside, thanks to my Fiverr guy. Save this file as a gimp file (.xcf) and next time you make a mockup all you have to do is open up the file, paste in your design, resize it, position it, and you’re all set! Easy peasy 🙂

 Quick Note About Backgrounds

If you want to superimpose your own background, it’s quite simple. The BG layer is the visible background of your photo. If you want to use a graphic like a pattern or something, just paste in your chosen background, then move it to be above the BG layer.
Then select the BG layer, click the “select by color” tool, click anywhere on the transparent parts we removed to select them, then click back onto the new layer and click delete. Hide the original BG layer and your photo should look superimposed on your new background!
And here’s an awesome pinnable graphic for ya to help you bookmark this 🙂
How To Make Your Own DIY Product Mockup with Gimp
** you don’t need to do this with things like mugs, pillowcases, signage, etc. where you won’t be doing a full bleed print. For those items, just transpose your design image, curve/warp it as necessary to make it look realistic, and there you have it! (Yes I’ll do a tutorial on that also)
Doing is this way costs me nothing more than a blank plus $5. It’s not the most fancy, complicated mockup but it works quite well and they do tend to look nice.
So what do you think? Feel like giving it a try? Let me know in the comments!
Here’s a full size pinnable image if you’d like to pin it for later or share!
How To Make Your Own DIY Product Mockup with Gimp

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