I want to make a good mock-up case in Photoshop, with these two different images (design & print).

What are the steps to make a design image appear as if it has been printed on a phone case? (in color context and brightness/contrast).

Design Image Design Image

Print Image Example (want design onto a phone case in mock-up to look like this)

Print Image

  • Hi there and welcome to GDSE. Your question is a bit unclear. Are you asking how to edit an image so you can send it to print or how to create an image which looks like it's printed?
    – Wolff
    May 6, 2019 at 15:40
  • Or do you want a formula which converts a high quality color image to look out a bad quality photo of printed phone case? I suspect you shouldn't present a product like your photo presents the phone case.
    – user82991
    May 6, 2019 at 18:16
  • Not both Wolff but this one @user287001 was said, I want to start a custom case business with dropship method, but I am afraid to disappoint expectation from my customer in the future, so I think, I must make a mock-up (design on phone case) to nearly exactly the same as the print result, and I guess I need "a general formula" for edit the original design, I was searching but never got solutions, please help me. (I can give another example too if you want)
    – A. S
    May 7, 2019 at 1:04
  • If I have a "general formula" I guess, I can choose or make an appropriate design to print out on the phone case, and I can confidently to make catalog with them.
    – A. S
    May 7, 2019 at 1:22
  • The main problem with the print result I know is color degradation, so I really need a "general formula" to filter out "not printable" design.
    – A. S
    May 7, 2019 at 1:30

2 Answers 2


The color degradation is dependent on the used print method and used colors. Many of us have put a hefty sum of money to Adobe's software because it can acceptably predict the color degradation in many print processes. CMYK printing has remarkably smaller color range (=gamut) than computer screens, so it's very easy to make an image which seems dead and flat, when one prints it with CMYK printer.

see the next screenshot:

enter image description here

In the left is your original image (or what's left after 2 uploadings to Imgur) In the right there's a version which has been converted to CMYK profile Euroscale Uncoated (=a random selection) and back to sRGB. As we see, the simulated CMYK process made it flatter, but only blue has suffered substantially. The image is obviously well prepared for CMYK printing. See in the next example, how much not so well prepared images easily suffer:

enter image description here

In the left there's a bright RGB design. In the right there's Photoshop's prediction how it would come through CMYK printing, which uses color profile =Euroscale Uncoated.

Your photo of the printed phone cover doesn't reliably reveal very much things about the actual printing. The photo is unsharp. Nobody can be sure how blurry is the printing. It has obviously got all vibrancy and general sweetness boosting that low cost cameras insert without asking and many Photoshop users add themselves, if the camera for some reason doesn't add it enough. Finally the light is non uniform and there's bad glosses in the right.

One thing is clear. CMYK printing on black is useless. It needs a white background. Possiblities to get the apparent black base color:

  1. A white underprint on areas where the printer had thought it pays off. Between those areas there's black plastics as is or black ink.

  2. White cover with black edges, print only the flat area

3.The print is a thin transfer foil which is printed elsewhere and pressed or vacuum sucked to the phone cover with special equipment

  1. Print with pigment colors which do not need white underlay. (I don't believe it's the case, because the printing would be complex)

Let's assume your phone cover is made with option 1. You can build a stack into Photoshop which generate some errors to an image:

enter image description here

The top layer has a grey circle and some painted low opacity white to simulate washiness. Below it there's a complex group of layers. The uppermost group level is converted to smart layer to be able to insert adjustable blur for unsharpness as "smart filter" This is Photoshop's way to non-destructive filterings.

The content of the smart object is taken under editing. It reveals the rest. There's also grouping:

enter image description here

Group "white underlay simulation" desaturates a copy of the image. The desaturation result its softly tresholded with a steep curve to make white those areas, which are bright enough to earn white underlay. The group has blending mode multiply, so it actually makes dark areas of the image full black.

Those areas which are not blackened, get contrast lift and color distortion. Contrast lift with curves is adjusted to cause overexposure-like clipping. Hue&Saturation layer affects to reds shifting them towards orange and reducing saturation.

I have no idea of the used CMYK printing, so I didn't convert the image at first to CMYK and back. You should do it. As well you can keep it in RGB mode and have View > Proof colors = ON and set a proper proof mode (ask your printer for it)

If you want to check this monster, you can get it from here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/us0hllpmbmvan1h/Messi.psd?dl=0 Right click the group in the layers panel to get a possiblity to see and edit the inner levels.

You must find the proper settings, it's impossible to decide them here with a single not so high quality image of a phone cover.

If you do not print the covers by yourself, I recommend you to ask the printer for a proper preview method.

  • Thank you for your answer, I'll try to understand them. looks like it is a complex matter, and for possibilities to get the apparent black base color what I know is no.1 but this is just for 2D case print I guess (with UV laser printer), and also no.3 for 3D case print (with sublimation). unfortunately, I don't print by myself and then the printer just can give a preview as simple as we can found in entirely internet (drag&drop design with realistic effect) with a (not detail) suggestion if pastel colors and some other colors are bad for printing, this is really difficult to understand.
    – A. S
    May 7, 2019 at 22:34
  • If you order the print work, the printer should give color profile of his printing process or some other method to check the result beforehand. Only low cost home and office printers are sold without color profiles. Spend some time to learn what professional color management means and how it's commonly implemented ie. how to use it in Adobe's software.
    – user82991
    May 7, 2019 at 22:46
  • Thank you very much I'll ask them about the color profile and I'll try to learn color management too. I'm a newbie and these are the good hint for me.
    – A. S
    May 8, 2019 at 0:16

A simple layered composition should do the trick. Here I have a Smart Object which I transformed using a Distort transformation, and then blending mode set to Overlay, plus a duplicate of the Smart Object layer with slightly reduced opacity for the desired effect. These two layers are clipped to the phone case layer which has a layer mask.

For example

enter image description here

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