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Revamp Your Mockups For Free with This Simple Hack for Realistic Designs

If you are here then you probably already know about using mockups to showcase your designs on Etsy and other sales platforms. A lot of people probably also use Canva, Placeit, or other free design software for creating mockups, probably in a similar way, by layering your t-shirt design over an image of someone wearing a t-shirt and then using this as your main product photo. The problem with that though is that the T-shirt just sits flat on top of the T-shirt and so most of the time it doesn't look very realistic, or in the case of Placeit, where the mockups are now heavily overused, don’t always carry the right brands (Hello Comfort Colors!) or may just not fit your shop aesthetic.

From spending time on a lot of Etsy forums I know that a lot of people are turned off by unrealistic-looking mockups. Customers want to know that the product they are buying is an actual, living breathing tangible thing, not literally!....but they want to know what they are buying is real, and not just a photo of something that doesn’t actually exist. So the more realistic your mockup looks, the better! and also the more chance someone is going to click on your listing and purchase your product! This is especially true with print-on-demand, where the competition is FIERCE, so you really need your photos to stand out, and in this post, I'm going to show you a really easy, and 100% free way to improve your mockups in just a couple of easy steps.

Firstly, let me introduce you to

So if you haven’t already heard, this is a free online photo editing software called which is basically just a web-based version of Photoshop. I’ve been playing around with it in the last few months and I can honestly say it has virtually the same editing and manipulation capabilities as Photoshop, but it’s completely free so it’s a great idea for anyone who just opened an Etsy shop, or is on a limited budget and can’t spend money on expensive software right now.

It can be a little intimidating at first if you don’t know what you are doing, but I’ll take you through step-by-step on how just by adding in your t-shirt mockup and design, and making a few simple adjustments, we can create a much more realistic mockup & take your shop photos to the next level!!! Read on to find out how.

Step 1: Open up in your web browser if you haven't already.

Step 2: Open/Place your Mockup File

Either drag and drop your purchased mockup image, or click: File > Open and select the t-shirt mockup file you want to use.

Step 3: Place your Design

Your t-shirt mockup is now the Background Layer. So now we just need to add your t-shirt design. Either drag & drop it from your files or click File > Open & Place to place your design on top of the t-shirt. This adds your design as a new layer.

So here a lot of people will tell you to just "adjust the opacity" of your design layer to make it look more realistic (see pic above where you can find the opacity adjuster to the right, in the layers panel) and while this does help by reducing the brightness of your design, it also increases the overall transparency of the image, making your design look dull and lifeless, like below.

What we actually need to do is adjust the design layer only where the shadows are, and I'm going to show you how to do that on your own, without ANY prior editing experience required!.

Step 4: The Blending Menu

Ok so with the t-shirt design layer selected in the layers panel on the right-hand side, Right Click to open the layer styles menu on that layer and Double-click on Blending Options at the top.

Our aim here is to make this top layer here look like it is ‘blending’ with the layer below so we just need to adjust where the shadows should be showing through.

Step 5: Adjusting the Blending Mode

To do this we just need to adjust the slider on the Background layer which is at the very bottom of the layer-style window we just opened up. I've circled it here in green.

Press and hold Option (Alt for Windows) and just click the triangle on the right-hand side of the slider to separate the two triangles and pull the right triangle slider across to the right.

As you pull the slider across you will notice the image starts to blend with the layer below. Slide it back and forth until you are happy with the level of blending, and click ok. If you are more of a visual person then below is a 30-second video to show how easy it is to adjust the blend.

Now you have your more realistic-looking mockup, with the design looking like it is actually printed onto the fabric! If you zoom in you can even see the fabric of the shirt through the design, which is exactly how it is when printed in real life (for Direct-To-Garment printing, which is used for most print-on-demand suppliers) so this is pretty much as realistic as it gets!

If you are a perfectionist like me and you want to take it one step further then I'd use the liquify filter to morph the image slightly to folds of the shirt, but that is for another time, and another long post!

You can use this technique with almost any light-colored shirt design although certain colors will look different on different colored shirts, so you would just have to practice and see what kind of results you get. But with this Photopea software, you can do this completely free!

If you have got this far, then thanks for persevering. If you have any questions or are having problems with your mockups then just comment below and I'll do my best to help.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you found this useful!

Until next time,

Nat x

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