Create Realistic Mockups in Illustrator

Feb 02, 2012 No Comments by

If you’ve ever worked in an agency work environment, you know that a large part of pitching an idea to a client is preparing the presentation examples. These examples, a.k.a. comps, work-ups, and mock-ups, not only help you sell your concepts, but also clarify your intentions. A great way to do this is to mock-up an idea as it will appear in its intended location, as shown in Figure A. Because this often means distorting your illustration to fit its location, the Envelope Distort command is ideal for this purpose. We’ll show you how to create an entry banner and distort it to fit a photo of the site where it will hang.
Figure A

Let’s begin

The banner for our project is to hang vertically centered between two windows of a public building. We’ll use our drawing file not only for our mock-up, but later we’ll give it to a sign company to create the banner. To follow along with this tutorial download the .zip file.

1. Launch Illustrator, select File > Open, and navigate to the file. Click Open to display the drawing. Let’s now add a new layer in which we’ll add text to the banner.

2. Click on the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette and name the new layer Text. Now we’re ready to add content to the banner.

3. Type The History of Piracy in America so each word is on its own line and centered. We used 48 point Adobe Garamond as our font.

4. Click a new insertion point below the type you just created, and type the text August 1-20, and set the font size value to 24 points.

5. Create a new layer and name it Rectangle.

6. Select the Rectangle tool from the Toolbox; choose a stroke of 1 point, a stroke swatch color of black and a fill color of None. Then, drag and center a rectangle around the text.

7. Let’s now add a graphic to add interest to the banner.

By including graphics in the banner, not only will it help to draw attention, but it also helps to communicate the nature of the display. To add graphic elements to your banner, open the file Then, copy and paste it onto your banner, scale it to fit, and center it on the bottom, as shown in Figure B. As you can see we also drew a line between the text and the image to add interest.

We’re almost finished with the banner. It’s simple and gives enough information to be read quickly by a viewer. To finish the banner, we added color to the word Piracy to draw attention to the banner’s purpose, as shown in Figure C. Now, save the file, and we’re ready to add the banner to a photo of the location where it will hang.

Figure B

Figure C

Although we could add our location photo to the banner document, we later want to give it to the sign company. Let’s open an Illustrator file which contains a location photograph. Then, we’ll copy and distort the banner drawing in the new document.

To open your location photo and add your banner:

1. Open a new Illustrator document and name it

2. Choose File > Place, navigate to the location.jpg file, and click Place to add a photo of the setting where the banner will hang, as shown in Figure D. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)

3. Name the layer Location Photo, create a new layer, and name the new layer Banner.

4. Select the document.

5. Press [command]A ([Ctrl]A in Windows) to select all objects, and then press [command]C ([Ctrl]C in Windows) to copy them.

6. Toggle back to the open file and make sure the Banner layer is still selected. Then, press [command]V ([Ctrl]V in Windows) to paste the objects into the Banner layer, as shown in Figure E.

7. Adjust the size of the banner so it fits nicely between the two windows in the photo, as shown in Figure F.

8. Click on the Location Photo layer lock icon to lock the Location Photo layer.

Figure D

Figure E

Figure F

The Envelope Distort command enables us to distort selected drawing objects in a variety of ways. We can select a distort style using the Make With Warp option, or we can manually distort a mesh grid using the Make With Mesh option. Let’s use the Make With Mesh option since it allows us to control the appearance of the object distortion.

To create a mesh grid using the Make With Mesh options:

1. Select all of the drawing objects in the Banner layer by clicking on the layer’s Click To Target button.

2. Select Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Mesh to display the Envelope Mesh dialog box.

3. Select 4 and 2 from the Rows and Columns pop-up menus, respectively, and click OK to apply the distort mesh to the banner drawing objects, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

Using the perspective vanishing points of the bricks in the photo as a visual guide, as shown in Figure H, distort the banner to the same vanishing points.

Figure H

To distort the banner to the perspective vanishing points:

1. Select the Direct Selection tool from the Toolbox, choose the upper-right corner anchor point in the banner, and drag to an approximate location along the top vanishing line.

2. Continue to drag the mesh anchor points until the banner appears as it will when hung, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

By allowing the banner to curve throughout drawing, you add to the realism of the appearance. To add even more realism, let’s finish by applying a slight drop shadow to the banner.

To anchor your banner with a drop shadow:

1. Choose Filter > Stylize > Drop Shadow to display the Drop Shadow dialog box.

2. Set the Opacity to 50%, set the X Offset to about 0.05 in, set the Y Offset to about 0.05 in, and set the Blur to about 0.01 in. Click OK to add a drop shadow to your drawing, as shown in Figure A.

Adobe Illustrator, Tips & Tutorials
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