Create a Smart Object Mockup Without Photoshop

Using mockups with smart objects is awesome! A mockup that uses smart objects is almost magical. The creators of these mockups make it so you can add your design to their mockup and it looks like the design is on a real object. The mockup creator does all sorts of fancy stuff like planning for perspective adjustments, figuring out lights and shadows, and using displacement maps. (This means, take your flat image and make it look three dimensional, as if it were on fabric or on real objects, you'll see what I mean in a bit).

Isn't Photoshop great? Of course it is. But I don't use it. I use Affinity Photo (in place of Photoshop) and Affinity Designer (in Place of Illustrator) and love them. However, they, and other apps capable of art creation and photo editing are not capable of using smart objects. Isn't that terrible?

Mockups with smart objects really help bring your creations to life and if you want to sell your artwork on products it really helps your customer picture what the items will look like when they get them. It is a great tool to boost your sales.

There are ways to make your own mockups in Affinity Photo and Designer. In fact, the mockup you need is for a flat item, like a computer screen, picture frame, or piece of paper, with no perspective adjustment needed you can work with it pretty easily. Working with items that have wrinkles, folds and warps (such as clothing or other fabric items) are much harder to work with. I tried it, I used the mesh warp tools and perspective tools and was able to get pretty good results but the problem was I couldn't save all of my adjustments and displacement maps to turn the document into a reusable mockup. To use the file with another design I would need to re do the process over and over. This would take time away from actually creating other designs.

I looked around for other solutions but I couldn't find software that allowed for use of Photoshop Smart Objects that wasn't Photoshop. I thought I either had to make my peace with either needing to subscribe to Photoshop, taking a long time to make a mockup or limiting the types of mockups I could use. None of these options sounded very appealing.

You can imagine my joy when I found a way to use Photoshop Smart Objects without having to use Photoshop. There is a free website, that works a lot like Photoshop but on your web browser. It can do many things but I will focus on using the smart objects feature.

Here's how to do it:

1. First, you need a file that has smart objects. You can find .psd mockups with smart objects in many places, but I usually get mine from Creative Market or Etsy. Download the file to your computer.

2. Open PhotoPea in your web browser by going to I find that Safari works a little better and faster than Chrome.

3. Open your .psd file in PhotoPea. I just drag and drop the file into it.

4. Find the smart of object layer. It will usually say "Place your image here" or something to that effect. You can also look for a small square in the bottom right corner of the layer. Double click on the layer and it will open as another document in separate tab.

5. In the new tab, place your design image. In my example I am placing my Plantain Paradise pattern into a square pillow mockup. My pattern is much bigger than the pillow so I had to zoom out to be able to reach the transform handles. I adjust my design and place it where I want it on the pillow. Once you have placed your design where you want it click on the check mark to conform the transformation.

6. Very Important! Save your smart object, otherwise your design and changes will not show up on the main document. 

7. Return to the original document by clicking on its tab. Ta-da! Your file now benefits from the mockup designer's hard work: shadows, masks, displacement maps... and your design looks like it is really on the product! Notice how the design does not look flat but looks it is really curving around the pillow, the shadows and highlights also make it look like it is a real pillow being photographed.

8. Save your file as a PSD and export to PNG or JPG so you can upload it to your social media sites, websites or stores.

This mockup allows you to change the background using smart objects. I went ahead and inserted a wood background. Check it out:

Here is the final result exported as a jpeg:

Neat huh?

Word of caution!

I highly suggest you close all other unnecessary apps while you work on PhotoPea. It can drain your computer's memory and close on you making you loose all your work! (That's also why I only use this for mockups and not to create my artwork.).

So what's the alternative?

In case you were wondering what does a mockup look like when smart objects aren't working here is how it looks in Affinity Photo. Notice the the masking, highlights and shadows kind of work but the masking is pretty bad and there is no displacement making the image look 3D and like real fabric. 


 Give it a try!

I hope this article helps you with your mockups. Have you been frustrated with mockups and smart objects? I hope you give this alternative a try and let me know how it went.


  1. It did not work for me. After adjusting my image there is no save the smart object option. Very weird.

    1. In my experience, Safari works best. Also, Mockups that have separate displacement maps (as opposed to integrated displacement maps) can be more troublesome on PhotoPea. Regarding saving, try using the Command+S keys (Control + S if on a PC) instead of going into the menu to save the smart object.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting about Photopea! I have been looking for a way to do mockups without using Photoshop for several months now...what a relief to find you and your website! I used Chrome and it worked just fine. It moves a bit slow, so at first I thought it wasn't doing anything, but when I figured that out it was a piece of cake, and your directions were perfect...especially the warning to save the file. I can't thank you enough. Blessings to you and your business! :)


    1. I’m so glad it worked for you and my website has been helpful!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Now, there are plenty of inexpensive Photoshop clone programs available for download, but that's not what you should be learning. If you are serious about digital photography on any level, you should be learning


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