Start a Free Store Today With Your Artwork

Set up an online store for your art in minutes. We'll handle all manufacturing, order fulfillment, and customer service for you!

Open up shop today

Tutorial - Making a shirt mock-up template from a photo

This is a quick and dirty tutorial on the methods and principles of turning a photo into a mock-up template with shadows and highlights. I'm not an expert on this so I know this could be done even better by someone else! But at least this is a starting point for experiments and should be good enough for the Threadless submission slides.

The photo I've chosen is this photo of Craig Shimala that was once upon a time distributed by Threadless in an old submission kit. Thanks for posing, Craig! This and other photos from that kit can now be found in xiv's super useful thread that everyone should have bookmarked.

This is a good photo for this tutorial because the shirt has lots of interesting creases and wrinkles and the base color is not too light or dark so we can get good shadows and highlights out of it.

Step 1: Extract shirt

This is the tedious and boring part and there really isn't a quick method for doing it well so I just use an eraser and a tablet. Make a duplicate of the photo on a new layer and erase everything but the shirt. Be careful and patient. It helps to make a temporary layer underneath that you fill with a contrasting color so you don't have any white edges left. If you want to, you can also erase the white background around Craig but I was lazy and said nope.

Here's what I prepared earlier

Step 2: Shadows and highlights

Depending on the photo you're using this step may need some experimenting but it's actually quite simple.

First, make a duplicate of the shirt. Always make duplicates, always leave an original one intact.

Then, turn it grayscale from Image -> Adjustment -> Desaturate. It'll look like this now:

Make a duplicate of this layer too, one is going to be shadows, the other highlights.

To create the shadow layer, go to Image -> Adjustment -> Levels and tweak it something like this

When you bring down the middle and right side sliders you should end up with something like this

This layer will be set to Multiply.

The other grayscale shirt you made also gets the Levels treatment but this time like this:

Notice you bring up the left and the middle slider. It should look like this:

This layer goes on top of the shadow layer and is set to Screen.

You can adjust the opacity of these layers if you feel they are too intense:

Step 3: Color layer and design layer

Again, make a duplicate of the shirt. The color layer is just a flat slab of color and the layers on top will make it look real. Simply lock the layer transparency and fill with a color:

Now, this is the point where you notice I'm not an expert. While erasing the background I didn't manage to get it all nice and clean, there was an irritating thin outline of the original shirt color that looked dumb. As a sort of solution I merged a copy of the color layer filled with white with the background where the rest of Craig was and then using the Sponge tool (quick key O) I desaturated the thin red strands. When they're grey they don't look too bad when you change the shirt color. You can try and do a better job erasing than I did.

The final step is to make a shirt shaped mask for the design you will be pasting on this bad boy. This is not absolutely necessary but if you're mocking up a pattern or other all over print it's nice to have. Note to Photoshop Elements users: Elements doesn't have layer groups so you'll have to apply the mask directly to a layer. Not as convenient but does the same thing.

First, make a new layer group. Then, while still having the group selected make a selection of one of the shirt layers and apply that as a mask to the the layer group. You can then drop anything inside this group and it will only be visible on the shirt. The picture explains it better:

And that's it, I guess

Download this template here! Use it in your subs if you want, but most of all use it for learning.

Watch this
  1. 1
  2. 2
Goto75 profile pic Alumni
Great tutorial - thanks heaps! Will bookmark this one.
TheInfamousBaka profile pic Alumni
Great tutorial, Morkki. :-) This is really handy with the select stuff too, to get those awesome dress and sweater models.
Morkki profile pic Alumni
Thank you, please enjoy responsibly! By the way, if anyone wants to make blank templates from Threadless product photos, that's an art form in itself. Try to find shirts with a small design and then go to town with the Clone Stamp and Healing brush tools to remove the design. It takes some practice but it doesn't have to be perfect since the design you will be pasting on it will probably cover up some of the areas that look too much like clone stamped.
BeanePod profile pic Alumni
you left out the step where potato...
EZFL profile pic Alumni
added a link to this on my template/mock-up thread.
Morkki profile pic Alumni
xiv said:added a link to this on my template/mock-up thread.
Morkki profile pic Alumni
BeanePod said:you left out the step where potato...
Hint! If you want deeper shadows, duplicate the shadow layer!
blackhand_ profile pic Alumni
Give some house points to this man for being such a helpful guy. And give some points to Platypie for being so nice to point out Morkki's niceness.
BeanePod profile pic Alumni
nice tutorial, thanks dude!
Good job, morkki. Plus, I learned a new way to play a skin flute. Coolibus!
Awesome tut! Also,
albyletoy profile pic Alumni
Bookmark.. * Thanks! :-D
Kiwihopper profile pic Alumni
Thanks! Helpful tut, I've been doing it super sloppily!
martinosimani2 profile pic Alumni
great tutorial, thanks!
Awesome tutorial!
great tutorial ? thank you
Jayme Art said:great tutorial ? thank you
that wasnt actually a question. it was an alt code.
Morkki said:The color layer is just a flat slab of color and the layers on top will make it look real. Simply lock the layer transparency and fill with a color:
Nitpick: using layer option 'color overlay' (not a blending mode!) makes changes easier.
Morkki profile pic Alumni
Four clicks for picking a color and filling the layer, six clicks for adjusting color overlay ;)
What I mean is you can adjust the color in real time on the template, no? Not sure anymore, haven't used PS in ages and can't check now ;)
Morkki profile pic Alumni
Manupix said:What I mean is you can adjust the color in real time on the template, no? Not sure anymore, haven't used PS in ages and can't check now ;)
Sure, but in practice there's a limited amount of shirt colors. I have the AA shirt colors in my color swatches and just pick from there, they're close enough to the blanks Threadless uses.
YaaH profile pic Alumni
Morkki profile pic Alumni
Craig is the new black. Quick bonus mini tutorial! How to make heather / athletic grey / tri blend mock-ups:
  1. Fill color layer with grey or whatever
  2. Add noise. Gaussian, monochromatic, 10%. Less or more depending on size of photo.
  3. Add motion blur. Match angle to shirt, keep the blur pretty short. This one is 7px.
  4. Add SPORTS
jaywalkergraphics profile pic Alumni
Another satisfied customer, Morkki! Hey, I'd like to toss this PSD into the fold over at the template blog, but I don't know where I should upload it, or how to go about that, or whatnot. Anyone? Do I just send it to xiv?
Very nice to have a proven method for doing this!! And you say you're no pro??!!? Hah!! Thank you for taking the time!!
Morkki profile pic Alumni
Thanks guys, enjoy your freshly baked templates! @jaywalkergraphics, I think you can just send it to xiv, he keeps the files on his own site. Or you could put it in dropbox and share the link.
Thanks man. :)
Hey Morkki! Thanks for this tutorial, bro!
Long time no bump ;)
I bet panda forgot about this blog
I am beginner to design. Thanks for the information!
Den 2
Thank you for the wonderfull instructions! Greatly appreciated ????
  1. 1
  2. 2