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  • Nayda Cruz

Create Realistic Mockups in Adobe Illustrator

Create Realistic Mockups in Adobe Illustrator

Show your vision!

A great way to show the world the product that you visualize with your pattern, is by using mockups.

There are different ways that you can create mockups. But you may have notice that some of them looks realistic, and others, simply don’t.

There are many places to buy high quality mockups, such as Creative Market. They are usually an Adobe Photoshop document with specific layers to place your designs and, just like magic, they adjust in perspective and transparency to look as if the product is already produced.

Adobe offers their programs as a subscription. Which means as long as you pay for the subscription, monthly or yearly, you have access to their programs. You can pay a subscription to all their programs or just pay for one.

In this blog I will be showing you how to create realistic mockups for your surface design patterns only with Adobe Illustrator. Yes, it is possible!

The first thing that you will need to find is a picture of the product that you want to place your art in, with a white surface.

I suggest you avoid search engines such as Google or Bing, to look for your photos. Try websites that offer free images with the photographers’ permission. My favorite is Unsplash because it consistently delivers what I am looking for.

You could also buy a stock photo from Adobe Stock or iStock.

Just make sure that wherever you are getting your photo, you read the license information to know what you are allowed or not allowed to do with that photo.

And of course, you could always take your own photos! You just need a well light place and the product of your preference.

Let’s go step by step to create our mockup in Adobe Illustrator.

1. Search for your image and download it

One of my favorite products to place my surface pattern designs are throw pillows. So, I did a search by “white throw pillow” and found this image by Mediamodifier. Just below the photo you can confirm the license agreement for it.

Select and download your image from Unsplash.

I always download the image in the “Original Size”. Because once you have something in high quality, you can always export it in a lower quality. But if your image is low quality, you won’t be able to make it better no matter how many tricks you pull out of your pocket.

Also, it is always nice to say thanks to the creator of the image. In my case I do it through Twitter.

Say thanks to the contributor.

2. Place your image in a new document in Adobe Illustrator and lock it.

Place your image in Adobe Illustrator.

3. Use the Pen Tool to trace the border of the object that you want your design to be placed in.

You will need to set both your fill and stroke to none and zoom in to be able to see better the border that you are tracing.

Trace your image with the Pen Tool.

4. Select the pattern that you will like to use in your pillow, or any other product, from the swatches.

With your trace selected, and the fill on front, open your swatches panel and select your pattern.

Apply your pattern.

You may need to make some adjustments to your tracing at this point.

Fix your tracing with the Pen Tool.

5. ­­­­Adjust the transparency mode of your object.

Select your patten shape and go to the transparency panel. From the dropdown select the mode “multiply”. If you need to, you can also adjust the transparency of the pattern.

You will instantly see how the textures of the white surface shows through the pattern and it looks realistic.

Apply transparency to the pattern.

Before and after mockup.

6. Export your image!

That’s it! Just export your image to use in your portfolio, social media, or website!

Must haves...

Creating realistic mockups in Adobe Illustrator is possible. You just need a white surface and some patience.

If you don't understand how to use the Pen Tool, I have a Skillshare class called "Create Vector Art from Photos: All the Tools to Vectorize in Adobe Illustrator" that teaches you how to use all of the drawing/tracing tools inside Illustrator. If you don't have a Skillshare account, through that link you can get a 1 month free trial to watch it.

I hope you find this blog helpful. See you around!


This blog is a space to learn about design. I invite you to join my mailing list. This way you will receive a monthly email with my blog post. I respect your privacy and will never share your personal information.


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