I'm a self-taught designer and now I'm working on a packaging project. I'm designing in Adobe Illustrator CC using CMYK color mode, but now, I want to present my client the work with a mockup and I really don't know what to do.. CMYK is pretty different from RGB when presenting the final product, so the colors I chose won't look the same if I use a mockup.

What do you guys do when you have to do print stuff and want to present it to your client (of course with complex packaging stuff, no business cards, flyers, etc)?

  • 3
    Print a mockup. That is, actually assemble a prototype. Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 11:37
  • Can you create a digital mockup (3d piece or photo manipulation) of your artwork just to show how it would look like to your client? There will be always differences between the colors displayed in a computer and print stuff (RGB vs CMYK) and if you print the same work in different places or materials you will see differences too. Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


I see 2 questions here.

1) Do you present a digital mockup or a printed one?

2) How do I control the diferences in color between the thing I see on screen and the final printed version?

For the first one. Depends on which part of the process you are and what kind of package you are talking about. Is it just a sticker on a already manufactured flask, metal box designs where the actual provider of the boxes have specific sizes, or a custom/bespoke cardboard box you are designing from scratch?

I sometimes present some rough isometric views in the first stages, or a digital 3D model, then only the design in 2D, then a 3d real life model... Depends.

But in the second topic about color, it is not RGB vs. CMYK, the problem you have is that you must have a colour calibrated workflow.

You can present a 3D model or print some samples, but if all the process is not calibrated you will have a lot of diferences eaven with your printed samples ane the final printed product.

A pantone color guide can assist you, and you can define plain colors based in it, but if the design includes photo design you need to calibrate your monitor and printers with something like this http://www.colormunki.com/.


Most design firms create a mockup. As a freelancer, you can do this by printing yourself or sending to a place like Fedex Kinkos if it's a larger size. Then piecing it together. Tools like double sided tape, an exacto knife, a bone folder, a ruler, and spray adhesive help.

All of this costs money, so a lot of times, this amount is included in the estimate.

One way to get color close to production is to get a Pantone Color Bridge swatch book. The swatch book allows you to pick pantone spot colors which any printer can match if the job uses spot colors. If the job is CMYK or 4/4 or process, then you can still refer to the swatch book to approximate the colors you want to reproduce because each pantone swatch also has a printed swatch next to it of what it will look like in CMYK.

  • That's the onle solution? Because I'm just starting as a freelancer and I really don't want to spend a lot of money, just look for simple solutions everybody can have.. Thank you anyway.
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 17:51
  • Unfortunately, @Josef often what works and what's free (or cheap) are not synonymous.
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 18:52

I would say the easiest and cheapest way to produce a mockup would be by exporting high quality images of your design and importing/cropping it in programs such as Adobe Photoshop and then just manipulating it to produce a mockup design or even using resources available online.

You can let your clients know about the slight difference in the colours. Even showing them screenshots would help.

Best of Luck.

  • Thanks for the contribution and welcome to GraphicDesign! Let us know if you have any questions Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 2:22

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