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Ever wondered how some people create gorgeous product preview images? If you’re a creative solopreneur or small business that designs and sells end products, you might already know how important it is to have high-quality previews that engage your potential customers. If not, or if you’ve been struggling with your product previews, this post is for you.
Product preview images are your one chance at a great first impression. Most customers won’t consider buying a product if they can’t at least see what it is or how it can benefit them.
Unfortunately, I have some experience in this area. I’ve released products that have strong previews and I’ve released product previews that I’ve rushed. And let me tell you, the difference is real. One will compel your potential customers to click through and find out more about your product or service. The other will likely mean you’ll have to re-make the previews at some point down the line – a time-consuming and unnecessary task that could have been avoided (hey, we live and learn!).
I’m going to attempt to demystify mock-ups and suggest where you can find quality mock-up resources. I’ll also argue why investing in your product previews is best practise for your business in the long run.
Ideally you want your product preview images to be as comprehensive as possible. One method I’ve found useful is to write a list of the most relevant preview types before you start. Try to put at least 3-5 mock-up ideas down, but more if you can. I’ll give you an example. Say you create vector icons that can be used in various applications. To give your audience the best window-shopping experience and inspire them to make a purchase, consider the following preview types:
- Branding mock-ups (business cards, stationery, sign-writing)
- Apparel and accessory mock-ups (t-shirts, pins, hats)
- Social media graphics mock-up
- Website graphics
- Event stationery (e.g. wedding suites, invitations)
- Home decor ideas
- Patterns (wallpaper, wrapping paper, textiles)
Once you’ve completed this step, you can take your preview planning even further by digging into your target audience type. For example, if your products is a set of feminine clipart graphics, you want to consider:
- A soft, neutral colour palette
- Feminine accessories to enhance your images
- A cursive font (be sparing with this!)
Here is a visual example of what I mean. My branding resource Cosmic Dream Logo Template Kit features delicate lines and shapes and a bright, pastel colour palette.
For the main preview I chose various soft, delicate accessories and graphics (the candle, lichen, leaf, gold pen, paper scraps, and the rustic light wooden background). The scene creator I picked for this product fit my ideal customer perfectly: female business owners who work from home and who are looking for an attractive, affordable option for their logo.
Here is the scene creator I used in the Cosmic Dream previews. It’s beautifully put-together and comes with many features such as Photoshop Smart Objects, editable colours and an organised file system.
It’s often tempting to hurry your previews because your product is ready to launch and you just want to get it out into the wild. I know, I’ve been there! But I recommend you stop, take a breather, and think carefully about how to package it.
The mock-up world can be a daunting place, saturated with low-quality resources that don’t do your products or services any favours. I’ve used free resources in the past and will continue use them in the future (see below) but I am incredibly choosy about which ones I use.
There are two types of mock-ups and two key considerations when deciding which works best for you.
Free one-off mock-ups
These resources save you the most money because they are free, but the problem is that they often don’t gel with other mock-ups. Your product previews can end up feeling like a zoo, inconsistent and without a story. The story aspect is important because it leads your potential customers on a visual journey and shows them the different ways your products can benefit them. You want to delight, not confuse.
Premium mock-up collections
The great thing about a premium collection or scene creator is that your product preview images will be consistent and feel like you are telling a clear story. They’re usually paid, but think of it as an investment – not just financial but also of your time and your long-term business goals.
Here is a selection of beautiful scene creators and mock-up that I’ve found to be high-quality, comprehensive and particularly easy to use. I steer toward top-down mockups as they tend to give me more options for showing off my designs, but there are also a couple of front view fabric mock-ups here that I particularly like for their ease of use.
Custom Scene has a huge library of scene creators and I highly recommend their work.
Creatsy is a prolific, high-quality mock-up and scene creator master, and they also boast a massive library of options spread across multiple shops.
Shutterstock – A popular image resource, Shutterstock charges a monthly subscription but you will gain access to millions of images, video clips and music.
I’d almost always go for high-quality over quick-and-cheap, but that’s not to say there aren’t venues out there that offer decent free resources. The difference is that freebies aren’t as likely to be editable or come with versatile features such as Smart Objects or the ability to change colours.
Unsplash – Unsplash offers free images that you can use in your previews. Generally these are flattened (.jpg, .png) that you have to edit manually, so more advanced knowledge of editing software is often required.
Pixabay – Similar to Unsplash, Pixabay offers free images for you to use wherever you like. It also offers stock video footage and clips and free music downloads to use in your promotional videos.
As I discover and use more resources I will no doubt write a follow-up post, so check back regularly. I hope you’ve found this post useful!
Are there any mock-up venues or creators that you particularly love? Drop me a comment here and I’ll check them out.