Packaging: 3D Photoshop Mockup


GOAL: This tutorial demonstrates how to make a three-dimensional, digital mock-up of a package design using Photoshop.

In order to present your new packaging design to your client, I feel it is best to create a 3-dimensional mock-up. A dimensional mock-up allows you and your client to visualize exactly how the finished design will look in real life.

At this point, I am assuming you've already completed your product package design in Illustrator and are ready to show your client the final, and amazing, results.

I'm also assuming that you have spent countless hours perfecting your package design and have made many real mock-ups to get the fit, size, and box strength right. With these areas taken care of, let's move forward and create a presentation that your client will understand.

Demo Files:




Step 1: Photograph your real-life paper mock-up

I would use a decent SLR digital camera, if possible. I prefer a Canon 12MP or better. Below is the photograph I took of a box I was creating for a bottled hot sauce.

I prefer to shoot my photos in a front 3/4 view. This allows my clients to see three sides of the box. To show the remaining side and back, I can use the same photo and add them in Photoshop later. Notice there is some inverse keystoning and the natural perspective is maintained (vs. isometric projection). I did this on purpose so the packaging would appear real, as if it were sitting on a table in front of you.

Photoshop Package Mockup

Figure 1: Photo of Mock-up


Step 2: Make your 2D design into 3D in Photoshop

  1. Open your mock-up photo in Photoshop and crop as needed (see figure 1 above)
  2. Make sure your physical size is large enough to present to a client. I chose 10" tall
  3. Make sure you have enough resolution. I chose 300ppi
  4. Next, open your final package design in Illustrator. This is the flat, 2D artwork that should look something like this:
    Photoshop Package Mockup

    Next, select the entire package design layout (above) in Illustrator and copy it to the pasteboard (command C).
  5. Jump to Photoshop and paste (command V) in the same window as your mock-up photo
  6. Choose to place the image as pixels and press RETURN
  7. Be sure that the flat design image is on its own layer in Photoshop
  8. Using the rectangle marque (M), select the box's front design and create a new layer via copy (command J)
  9. Do the same with the box's right panel design and the top
  10. Now, hide all layers except the mock-up photo and front panel
  11. (command T) to transform
  12. With the transform box visible, hold down the command key and hover over the top right corner of the transform box
  13. Notice that the double arrow turns into a gray arrow tip
  14. Click and drag the corner to fit the box's perspective. You can zoom in while in transform mode if the corners won't fit exactly as you want.

    Photoshop Package Mockup
  15. Do the same with the remaining three corners. Be sure you don't hit return or you'll lose the transform box and it's corners. Follow the same steps for the right panel and the top panel. It should look something like this:

    Photoshop Package Mockup      Photoshop Package Mockup     Photoshop Pacakge Mockup
  16. I dropped the background on the final image added a gray background and shadows

Now you're ready to send your final Photoshop packaging mock-up to your client. This is much easier for them to visualize and provide feedback on.

I prefer to save the final mock-up as a Photoshop PDF (300 ppi, maximum resolution, jpeg)and email that file to the client. It will open in Acrobat, which most people have.

Well Done!

Here's another example of how Minneapolis-based Kick Design Agency showcased a digital mockup

Kick Package Mockup