A mock-up is a prototype or visual representation of a design idea, created to simulate how the final product will look and feel. It provides a tangible preview of a project, allowing designers, clients, and stakeholders to visualize the end result before investing time and resources into production. Mock-ups can range from simple sketches or digital renderings to fully interactive prototypes, depending on the needs of the project.

Mock-ups serve several crucial purposes in the design process. Firstly, they help designers test and refine their ideas, allowing for experimentation and iteration without committing to a final design prematurely. By visualizing concepts in a tangible form, designers can identify strengths, weaknesses, and potential improvements early on.

Secondly, mock-ups facilitate effective communication between designers, clients, and other stakeholders. They provide a common visual language that helps ensure everyone involved in the project has a clear understanding of the proposed design direction. Mock-ups enable productive discussions, feedback, and decision-making, ultimately leading to better outcomes for the project.

Additionally, mock-ups can be used to validate design decisions and mitigate risks before moving forward with production. By seeing how a design will look and function in real-world contexts, designers can anticipate potential challenges and make adjustments accordingly, reducing the likelihood of costly errors or revisions later on.

Creating Digital Mock Ups

Digital mock-ups are visual representations of design concepts or products created using software like Photoshop. In Photoshop, one common technique for creating digital mock-ups involves using smart objects. Here's how it works:

By using smart objects in Photoshop, you can easily create digital mock-ups that showcase your design concepts in realistic settings. These mock-ups are invaluable for presenting ideas to clients, testing different design iterations, and visualizing how a final product will look in the real world.

For a more detailed demonstration, you can watch this tutorial video that walks you through the process of creating digital mock-ups using Photoshop. This is a tutorial that provides step-by-step instructions and helpful tips to guide you through the process of making a business card mock up.

There are also many online resources that you can download mock up files that already have smart object layers set up for you to import your designs. This is a quicker way to see what your designs may look like in the real world and can give clients an easy way to see your designs.  

Creating Physical Mock Ups

In graphic design, a physical mock up refers to a tangible, three-dimensional representation of a design concept or product. Unlike digital mock ups created on a computer, physical mock ups are made by hand using various materials such as paper, cardboard, foam board, or other craft supplies.

Physical mock ups serve several purposes in the design process:

Overall, physical mock ups play a vital role in the design process by providing designers with a hands-on approach to exploring, refining, and presenting their ideas. They complement digital mock-ups and other design tools, offering a unique perspective that helps bring designs to life in a tangible and interactive manner.

Steps to Making A Physical Box Mock Up

1: Surface Development

Create a surface development drawing that can be cut out. Surface development is the process of unfolding and flattening three-dimensional surfaces or objects into two-dimensional shapes to aid in manufacturing or design visualization. You can use a CAD (Video) software or draw it out by hand. 

2: Design Box

Start with a digital mock up of your design and then transfer those elements in the same location over your 2D surface development drawing.

3: Print

Print your design to scale and glue it onto the material that you are making your box out of. In this example I am using mat board since it is easy to laser cut. 

4: Laser Cut

Using the surface development sketch, laser cut out your design. You can include the fold lines on the inside to help you in the folding process. 

5: Fold

Fold all sides and tabs towards the inside. Even though not all sides are at 90 degrees it won't hurt to fold them further because the mat board will want to go back to flat. 

6: Glue

This can be tricky because the more you fold in the harder it is to get your hands in a position to hold the glued sides together.