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This article focuses on covering different options for creating images of your digital artwork or photography for usage in various settings such as web and social media. We’ll walk you through 4 different options along with the pros and cons of each. We’ll also give you some useful tips and tricks on how to make the process as pain free as possible.

If you are creating mockup images for usage on our artist selling platform its always best to size your images at around 822[w] x 528[h] pixels. We encourage people to use a mixture of close-ups and mockups to best showcase their work.

Generally speaking there are 4 options that you can consider for creating beautiful mockups of your artwork. Below is a quick summary, after which we’ll talk about each one in a little more detail.

Option Benefits Drawbacks
*Recommended* Buy ready made mockup packs from Etsy
  • Very inexpensive
  • Really excellent quality
  • Wide range of options
  • You still have to pay to buy them
  • Sizes of the frames may not be ideal for your needs
  • You need some image editing skills, but really minimal
Leverage online mockup tools
  • Very hassle free
  • Low cost
  • Can sometimes feel quite unnatural and lack authenticity
  • Limited mockups available to choose from
Create mockups in Photoshop
  • Low cost
  • More control
  • You either need to be good in Photoshop or pay someone else who is
  • Still usually requires purchasing staged settings
Print, frame and photograph works yourself
  • Looks more natural and authentic
  • If you have the kit and knowledge, can be inexpensive
  • You’ll need your work printed and framed
  • Could become expensive
  • Time consuming

(1) Buy ready made mockup packs from Etsy

This approach simply requires a quick search on Etsy using keywords like “frame mockup” to generate tons of great options. You can then purchase a digital download and either work on the images yourself in Photoshop or hand them off to someone else to help you. In our experience this has produced the most pleasing results for the best overall value for money and time.

Overall benefits

  1. There is tons of great mockups on Etsy produced by people who understand what artists and photographers are looking for to showcase their works.
  2. Its really inexpensive as digital downloads typically run from $2.50 up to around $15. Many are often discounted at certain times so you can take advantage of special pricing. There is also packs where you can get up to 350 different mockups for a single price under $10.
  3. The files are usually easy to use and often come with instructions of links to video tutorials showing how to use them correctly.
  4. The images look generally more authentic and natural then leveraging online mockup tools.

This is absolutely our advised approach to achieving the best results for the cost and time involved. Below is an example of a photograph mocked up using an Etsy mockup pack that was purchased on special offer for $9 and includes 350 different settings. The photograph inside the frame is by Karsten Winegart via Unsplash. This was done in Adobe Photoshop and took about 5 minutes with very minimal technical knowledge required.

Etsy Frame Mockup example

In this example we leveraged a photograph by Ivan Bandura from Unsplash and followed the same approach in Photoshop.

Etsy frame mockup example

Some drawbacks to this approach

To be honest we don’t see any real drawbacks to this approach when compared to other options. The quality of the mockups are fantastic in general and inexpensive. You really don’t need to be a wizard in Photoshop, but you probably at least need to have access to it.

(2) Leverage online mockup tools

There is a number of online mockup products out there so whilst we specifically mention Placeit and Smartmockups, you may also search around and find additional options at varying price points and suitability for your needs. We are not affiliated with any of the vendors we outline here and are simply talking from personal experience.

Overall benefits

The main benefit of these solutions is that they were specifically designed to create product mock-ups and export good quality image files that are often pre-sized for usage on popular social media sites. Basically you upload a suitably sized and proportioned image of your artwork, choose a mock-up and let the software do the magic.

In most cases the software will provide various mockups for free, but then you’ll be limited in terms of the size [and quality] of the image you can export OR they’ll add a watermark to the image. The two vendors that we have leveraged in the past are Smartmockups and Placeit.

Smartmockups has a range of mockups that enable you to add a digital image into a frame and have it placed into a preset backdrop/room. It costs $14 per month.

Placeit is the stronger of these two vendors as they generally have a lot more mockup options to choose from and are priced at $9.99 per month if annual or $14.95 per month if you pay per month.

Both vendors allow you to cancel anytime so theoretically you could sign-up, run your files, and then drop back off until you need it again x months down the line.

Below is an example we generated from Placeit using an image file from Unsplash [credit to Karsten Winegeart for the beautiful photograph].

Placeit picture frame mockup

Lastly an example where we added 3 random poster images into this mockup.

3 pictures are mocked up on a wall

Some drawbacks of this approach

Depending on your level of expectation, there is some drawbacks with using these pre-canned mockups.

  1. There isn’t an endless supply of mockups, so often you may end up using mockups that have been heavily used by many other individuals.
  2. Most of the mockups don’t include a mat border in the frame, which often would make your imagery look a lot nicer if there was one. If you want to include, it obviously limits your choices a bit more.
  3. We found that most mockups tend to be portrait or square format and there is less landscape orientations. This often meant we needed to extend the edges to meet the size we required and since there is often elements cropped within the images it made it difficult to extend the edges for a lot of the mockups [even if using generative fill with Photoshop].
  4. Different mockups require specific image sizes, so some ask for 1000 x 700, others 800 x 900, and others 1000 x 1000 and so forth. So whilst there may be lots of choices at first glance, if you then need to limit according to your artwork dimensions, the options may be reduced substantially.

Overall this is probably the easiest and most efficient solution for creating quick, good quality mockups for using on the web and across social media, but the quality and range is not on the same level as purchasing mockup packs from Etsy.

(3) Create mockups in Adobe Photoshop

This method involves finding or purchasing existing “staged” environments from popular image repositories and then mocking up your artwork within that setting. There is lots of possible vendors you can consider, but Shutterstock and Depositphotos are usually our go-to options. We tend to check Depositphotos first as its cheaper than Shutterstock and sometimes there are images available on Depositphotos which are also on Shutterstock at a higher cost.

Overall benefits

Generally speaking the main benefit is that you typically get a wider selection of settings to choose from as you can either select from settings that already have frames on the wall OR just choose an interior/wall shot and then mock-up an image including the frame into that setting. Its going to end up giving you way more options to work from than Placeit for example.

In the example below we added an image to the existing empty frame and then used the generative fill AI in Photoshop to extend the sides to get the image into the right ratio we wanted.

Mockup of a picture on a grey wall with a sofa, table and lights infront.

In this image we added the picture into the existing empty frame of an office setting from Shutterstock. The original image was nicely proportioned so we didn’t need to make any real changes to get the right final size we wanted.

Picture frame mockup on a wall in an office

Some drawbacks of this approach

  1. There will be some cost involved [potentially] to purchase credits/images for the likes of Shutterstock or Depositphotos. Shutterstock sells image packs which usually works out at around $10 – $15 per image, whilst Depositphotos has cheaper cost per image packs or a pretty attractive subscription model.
  2. You generally need some level of expertise in Adobe Photoshop or equivalent to put all your components together into a nice mockup. Just for time we generally outsource this aspect to a graphic designer via Upwork who charges us around $10 – $15 per image.
  3. Ultimately its all still a very staged set-up so it does lose some of the authentic feel, but a good Photoshop person can add elements such as reflections and so forth to bring the scene to life a bit more.

Generally we would always advise checking the online mock-up solutions first and then falling back on this option if you can’t find anything that works.

(4) Print, frame and photograph your works

In this process you basically need to print your works, frame them up, hang them on the wall and then photograph them, and post process/edit to your desired requirements. This is by far the most complex and involved route to producing high quality previews of your work on the wall, but its also the most unique and authentic route.

Overall benefits

The main benefit to this approach is that you generally end up with very natural and authentic looking images, though the quality will be heavily dependent on your equipment and skill with a camera. What you might save from not buying stock images, etsy mockup packs, or a subscription, you will obviously end up spending [or have already spent] on the relevant equipment needed OR a professional photographer to shoot on your behalf.

These particular images below were taken by a professional photographer in a studio setting with some basic mockup materials. With more elements you could obviously make quite a nice setting and achieve good results.

Pictures inside frames taken by us

Some drawbacks of this approach

  1. It can be really time consuming if you don’t have a permanent set-up that you can just rotate works through on a regular basis. In addition to the photographing aspect you’ll also be spending time on editing.
  2. You either need the equipment yourself or you’ll need to hire a professional to do it for you. Photography is a rabbit hole – you can spend a lot of money on cameras, lens, strobes, and so forth just to get shots you’re happy with. If you need to hire someone else to shoot on your behalf, expect some hefty hourly fees for the pleasure.
  3. If you are looking to create authentic shots then you also need some authentic / real world settings to hang your prints or access to a studio.
  4. There is additional cost involved in physically printing and framing your artwork whilst the other routes allow you to just leverage a digital image.

Unless you are really into photography we’d advise giving this option a pass as the cost and effort relative to the return is probably just not worth it in the majority of cases. One route we have deployed in the past is to just ask for customer permission to photograph their work once its up in their home, then we’ll do some editing afterwards to clean it up, but the quality suffers when you don’t have a proper set-up in place.

Native American print on a dark blue wall

In conclusion

There is lots of good options when creating artwork mockups in frames and many of them are really inexpensive and easy to execute. Based on our experience we would highly recommend checking the frame mockup packs available on Etsy and then either creating the mockups yourself or engaging someone via Upwork/Fiver etc to help you. Most of the mockup packs come with very simple to follow tutorials so even if you aren’t a photoshop wizard you can generally follow along easily enough.

Happy mocking up!

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