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Updated: Apr 23

Movie poster from 'Helvetica' Documentary

Why Mock Builders?

Graphic designers and Companies use mock builders to create realistic representations of their design ideas before they go into production. Mock builders allow designers to visualize how their designs will look in the real world and make any necessary adjustments before investing time and money in production.

Image From Decode

Mock builders also help designers communicate their ideas to clients or stakeholders. By presenting a mockup, the designer can show how the final product will look and feel, which helps the client or stakeholder better understand the design and make informed decisions.

Image Via MockUp Cloud

In addition, mock builders can save time and resources by reducing the need for physical prototypes and printing. Instead of creating multiple physical or digital prototypes, and or prints, designers can use a mock builder to test and refine their designs digitally. This can be especially useful for complex or expensive projects where creating physical prototypes is impractical or cost-prohibitive.

Table of contents example (TOC) (5 projects - 1 design w/ variable scale/orientation)

Overall, mock builders are an essential tool for graphic designers, allowing them to create and refine designs in a digital environment and communicate their ideas effectively to clients and stakeholders.

How Can I Create a Mock Builder?

A designer can create a mock builder in several ways, depending on the nature of the project and the designer's preferences. Here are some common approaches:

  1. Sketching: The designer may start by sketching rough ideas on paper, using pencil and paper or a digital drawing tool. Sketches can be quick and easy to create, and they allow the designer to explore different design options and get a solid plan together before capturing images.

  2. Wire framing: A designer may create a wireframe, which is a simple, visual representation of the layout and structure of a design/website/app. Wireframes are typically created using specialized software like figma, illustrator, framer, and Adobe XD, and they can help the designer plan the design's content and hierarchy.

  3. Prototyping: A designer may create a prototype, which is a working model of the design that allows the designer to test its functionality and user experience. Prototypes can be created using specialized software or by coding the design using web development tools.

  4. Take a Picture: A designer may create a mockup, which is a realistic representation of how the design will look in the real world. Mockups can be created using specialized software, and they can help the designer test the design's visual elements, such as color, typography, and layout based off of real world objects and dimensions.

  5. 3D modeling: A designer may create a 3D model of the design, which is a digital representation of the design in three dimensions. 3D modeling is typically used for product design or architectural visualization, and it can help the designer test the design's form, function, and materials. - You can all get a free license to Fusion 360, OnShape 3D, or TinkerCAD. I cannot teach you these today, but use your student emails to explore free licenses for softwares that otherwise cost thousands of dollars.

Overall, the designer's approach to creating a mock builder will depend on the nature of the project, the tools and software available, and the designer's personal preferences and expertise.

Lets focus on making a sketch and taking a picture. -You may explore these 3D other options another time.

Our Practice

Download ZIP • 1056.07MB
  1. Lets open this folder

  2. Go to "Our Practice"

  3. and we're going to walk through how to prep an image for Mock Building!

Prepping an Image for Mock Building

We are going to build with parts from a stock package (pretend we took these images and made our basic masks and photo edits to them)

  1. Lets pick a background. (not needed if choosing a shelf) (not needed if the focus is on the object/design presented)

  2. Lets pick an object or two (lamp, plant, flat table, etc. or a Shelf/Desk)

  3. Lets open a .psd that will match well with the angle we are building and pick a device and stationary we would like to add

  4. Lets create the smart objects that go with these items and add a new graphic, Paint scribbles or paste a previous design from this semester.

  5. Lets layer a light or shadow cast into this to really spice it up! (Shadow and light cast is not required for final project, but this shows how you can add your own style)


file> Save As. we're going to save as .JPG

we are also going to save as a .psd

Follow along in class for the advanced window.

I want these files for the practice section of class. the rest of this class time is to be used for the final project.

please refer to old lessons if you are stuck, I cannot hold your hands anymore. We are on the last 3 weeks of class, there are 2 left after this and one is for final presentations. lets be resourceful. If you have exhausted all resources then you may use me to help you.

Use the syllabus to help you find assignments, there are descriptions for every lesson in there to help you see what you need at a glance. find your way to the lesson to get step by step instructions of the technique you need. apply that technique to your graphic or image, save all of these assets as .psd and .png. layer your .pngs in your final mock builders to make for smaller files, but send all edited photoshop and illustrator files to me with your final project.

Your Final Assignment

Rubric :

Final Rubric - Computer Graphics-24
Download DOCX • 16KB


  • Take the images yourself - all objects must be captured, textures must be generated or photographed, it does not need to pieced together, but must show a consistent style.

  • Create a few editable parts of the image (Color/Texture of the object or background + a working smart object) duplicate each edit as a new layer and label it accordingly.


  • 6 Final files (if working solo)


  • 3 files of your own and 3 that you have edited to be different (If working with a partner)



  • All original Photographs in .jpg or .png format

  • All original designs/graphics/edited images used in this project, .ai .pdf or .psd

You’re job is to create 3 mock up photoshop file if working with a partner -6 mockup Photoshop files if working solo. The first is an overview of all the others. It’s a table of contents of sorts. It contains the 6 images in your project.

Mix things up a bit. Some need to be on an object like a laptop, a phone or a paper notepad. Others need to use the Displace filter to map it to a textured surface.

Table of contents opt with all object in one image (7 objects - 6 smart objects - 1 design)

you may put all of your mock ups into one file, but every object must have a working smart object.

some of these objects must have interchangeable color or texture to help the partnered student create their final projects faster.


You should really team up with a classmate to do this project. You're each doing your own. But you’d help each other with the creation and with the execution. Your partner can help you choose which pieces to include. Finally and most importantly, they can serve as an extra pair of hands while taking photos and building the final mockups. You’ll each end up with your own individual, different and separate projects.

Table of Contents - Masonry

You need to choose which of your design projects you want to include in the initial version of this project. Remember, you’re creating this in a way which will allow you to add or change projects in the future.

You need to focus on the type of work you want to do in industry. I know we are not professionals just yet, but lets try to hone in on something we're interested in. It would be a good idea to show your focus by emphasizing your specialization. Include other projects to show your versatility. As an example, you may want to focus on Web design, so you’ll Show UI/UX Mock ups on multiple screens (Iphone, Ipad, Digital Bilboard, Desktop, Stadium Screens). If you want this design to be print, Show it on a bus stop poster, a tri-fold brochure, Pins, Tote bag, T-shirts, Vehicles, Business Cards, Etc. Mix the few if you would like, show a few physical prints and a screen.

You’ll be taking photos of objects to include in the mockup. These need to reflect your personal style. You’ll need to work with your partner to find an appropriate setting for your photography. Since we’re working in Photoshop, you can obviously piece together elements from many places. Remember, the setting of your photos should not over-power the visibility of your portfolio pieces; it should complement them.

Table of contents - Grid (6 objects - 6 Smart objects - 6 Designs)

You’re going to story-board the project. This basically means sketching each file with the position and size of each portfolio piece. This process also demonstrates the sequence of the files which progress through your work in a logical way. You’ll also create a style tile to guide the design of your files. These will include type, textures, objects, borders and photographic styles.

Sketch the story board first, i want to approve these project ideas before you move forward.

The Bigger the Better

These are going to be built to be versatile. They’ll be large enough that they could be printed in large format. They could be sized down for viewing on a laptop or a tablet. They could easily be integrated into a Keynote slideshow. The goal is to build it big, so it can be re-sized for any device. Each document will be 11” x 17”; (or 17” x 11”) at 300dpi in RGB.



Your project will consist of one overall view of your work. These are generally shot from above, as shown in the above example. It will include objects which represent you, but may have little to do with the portfolio pieces. These can be conversation starters while showing your work to a prospective employer. Following this, you’ll have one file per portfolio piece.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Build everything yourself. No pre-done artwork aside from devices.

  • Build this for yourself, but build it also as a template for others.

  • Collect themed objects for your shoot.

  • Limited or no photoshop backgrounds allowed. Only photographed ones.

  • Include elements of personal style.

  • Include a human factor like hands or soft focus people.

  • Short depth of field is attractive. Brings attention to the subject matter.

  • Clean off your device to photograph it. No smears, smudges, or scratches.

When you’re shooting your own mockups, avoid using too strong an angle, as shown below.

Image courtesy of Algonquin Design

At this angle, your portfolio piece won’t be easy to interpret. Details will be lost. The shape is too distorted.

Our phones should be able to handle the images, again these are not professional works, but works for your portfolio.


Your design should be original. This means that you need to avoid cliché aesthetics. It also needs to reflect your personal style. The look of each file should vary yet be consistent in style. This means you’ll change camera angle and scene location.

Technical Proficiency

Your Photoshop file should be as editable as possible. To achieve this, you’ll use Layers, Smart Objects, Layer Effects and more. Each file needs to measure 11”; x 17”; at 300 dpi, either landscape or portrait. The orientation can change per file.

The link below is to my mock-ups portfolio to show how quickly we can produce multiple colors of the same object, with one or two spaces for a custom design.


  • Create a folder named after yourself : Last, First, #, "Mockups" (Hoag-Hunter-001_Mockups)

    • to contain everything.

  • Minimum 6 Photoshop files

  • This includes your first table of contents file, then minimum of 5 portfolio pieces.

Name your files starting with a number, so they’re in the order in which they should be presented. Example:

  1. TOC.psd (table of contents)

  2. 1-Stationary.psd

  3. 2-mobile.psd

  4. 3-branding.psd

  5. 4-Logo.psd

  6. 5-Bilboard.psd

Create a naming convention for each file that suits you. Make it consistent and meaningful, so you know what each is at a glance.

If you’ve used any type/fonts, you’ll need to include the fonts. (Use of type should be very minimal.) Please download the fonts you use directly to your project folder on your hard drive and or desktop folder. - This should be .zipped with the final file that is sent to me.

Make a second folder and Save a copy of each of your layered Photoshop files as a JPEG. We may create a .pdf with them the day of the final, if we have time. PLEASE SAVE THE .PSD AS WELL.

You will be saving to a .psd folder with all .psd files, and saving to a .jpg folder with all .jpg files.

If you have a lot of media, I recommend making a media folder as well and you can add your fonts to that instead.


**If you would like to continue learning, this is the website I have gotten most of my lesson inspiration and some content from:

you may credit them with your learnings or you may credit myself as I am the one who guided you through ;) much content and text came from them. I plan to update these lessons now that I have them published and truly make them 100% myself. With correct images taken by myself. these are a majority purchased stock images.**

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