How to Create a Professional T-Shirt Mockup
Making a high-quality T-shirt mockup is important to any screen printing business. They can help you fine-tune concepts and send a professional mockup to your client before you start printing. The better quality your mockup is, the more uses it will have. You can use them as product photos, social media posts, and much more. Rogue Lab owner Lee Stuart shows how to make a killer T-shirt mockup with a left-chest print and a back print.
First things first, you’ll need a template. Lee uses the “2700+ Apparel Mockups Bundle” from creativemarket.com. Though it requires a little bit of investment up front, Lee says it’s worth it. If you’re looking to only spend a little bit of money, Lee recommends the “Realistic Blank T-Shirt Mockups” option. At only $15, it’ll still give you a professional mockup at a fraction of the cost.
“It will pay for itself in the first hour that you own it,” Lee says. He explains that creating your own mockups requires a lot of time, effort, and Photoshop knowledge. For him, that just isn’t worth it. The mockup templates are made with the actual garment you would use for a job. You’ll know exactly what the shirt will look like when you print it.
STARTING THE DESIGN
Lee opens Photoshop and uses a template for a Bella Canvas 3001 T-shirt. He points out the layers of the template: design, tag, and custom tag. The template also contains a folder with shadows, another artwork layer, highlights, fabrics, and colors. A drop shadow and background layers complete the template. Lee starts with the left chest print.
THE LEFT-CHEST PRINT
Click on the design layer. Once in the smart object in a new window, delete the stock design. Lee copies and pastes his design from Adobe Illustrator onto the template. Using the placement guide, he scales the design to fit a left-chest print. He uses the arrow keys to shift the design exactly where he wants it.
Save the smart object design in order for it to show up on your mockup. Lee uses the shortcut “Command/Control S” to save it quickly. Close the window, and the design will show up on the original mockup.
The highlights layer is overpowering in most T-shirt mockups. The shirt color looks faded, like it’s been washed about a thousand times. To fix this, Lee changes the opacity of the “highlights” layer to 68%. This makes the black shirt look brand new.
Custom tags always make a print job feel more personal. To add custom tags to your mockup, first get rid of the “stock tag” layer and turn on the “custom tag” layer. This opens up another smart object window. Repeat the same steps as with the left-chest print. Delete the stock design and paste the custom tag in its place.
Lee’s custom tag takes up a lot of space. He resizes it so the entire tag is shown under the collar of the shirt. He uses “Command/Control T” to resize the tag, and holds the “option” key to scale the design down in the center of the window. He drags his tag design to the bottom of the window so it won’t get cut off by the shirt collar. Always make sure to save the design before quitting the smart window.
THE BACK PRINT
The process of creating the back print design is basically the same as the front, only bigger in size. Lee copies and pastes his own back print design onto the placement guide. The words on Lee’s design are the same color as the placement guide. Because the words blend into the guide, he uses the outer box to scale the design. His design is about 12-13 inches.
When you’re satisfied with your design, turn off the placement guide. Save the smart object and close the window to view it on the T-shirt mockup. Lee turns down the highlight layer to give the mockup a new-shirt look.
Your T-shirt mockup is done, and it looks professional. From here, you have two options. You can either export the mockup as a jpeg and send it off to a client. Or you can go one step further and make a custom backdrop to showcase your killer mockups. Lee walks us through that extra step.
Open a new window in Photoshop. Lee has made a background template to place his T-shirt mockups on. First, click on the window containing the front T-shirt design. Turn the background layers off and create a new merged layer with the front T-shirt design. This combines all the layers from the template into one layer without bringing the background with it. To do this, click the “design” layer. Scroll down to the last available layer, the “shirt color” layer. Hold shift and click on the “shirt color” layer. This will highlight everything you want to keep in the merged layer. Hit “Option/Alt,” “Command/Control,” and “E” to create a new layer including everything you highlighted.
Drag the new image into the background template window. Scale the mockup to fit the background template and repeat for the back T-shirt design.
Lee adds a swatch template to his mockup presentation. It shows the Pantones that make up the design. He centers the swatch template at the bottom of the document. Lee also changes the font and line color to match the Pantone swatch. He uses the eyedropper tool to match the colors.
If you’re looking for a little more pizzazz in the background, add a piece of your design! Lee grabs the Rogue Lab logo he used for the front left chest. He copies and pastes it into the background layer of the template. Then, he scales it up so the logo fills most of the blank space on the background. Turn the opacity down so the T-shirt mockups are the focus of the document. Lee sets the opacity to 13%.
Play around with the scale of the items on your presentation document. Once you’re satisfied with it, save it and send it!
Mockups are vital to the success of your print shop. Creating one doesn’t have to be a long, painful process. By using a good template and following these steps, you can have a clean, professional mockup in no time.