3 Myths Your Handmade Shop Can't Afford to Believe About Photoshop

3 myths your handmade shop can't afford to believe about Photoshop. By SarahDesign.com.

What are you using to create your images for your online shop right now? Canva? PicMonkey? Silhouette? The built-in image editor for iPhone?

You've heard of Photoshop. You know it’s out there and can help you make your images look really good, but you aren’t using it yet. And I think I know why.

Many people who haven't dug into Photoshop mockups yet are held back by certain beliefs. Certain MYTHS.

Here are the 3 myths I hear most often from Etsy and online shop owners like yourself:

Myth: You have to be a tech genius to learn how to use Photoshop. By SarahDesign.com.

Myth #1: You have to be a tech genius to learn how to use Photoshop.

Compared to Canva and PicMonkey, it can seem like getting started in Photoshop is tough. But I promise that I can show you how!

You probably think you’re saving money by using programs like Canva and PicMonkey, but you actually aren’t. It’s really costing you more money to use those programs for your mockups because your images won’t look as professional - this loses you sales. And it takes LONGER to make every mockup in these programs than it does in Photoshop. Photoshop has a feature that allows you to add your design to multiple mockups at the same time and export them automatically in seconds with only a few mouse clicks!

With a properly prepped Photoshop Mockup file you can make a ton of different variations of your design in minutes. Like this!

You couldn’t make all these different color variations of skinny acrylic tumblers using a simple “lay your design on top of photo” mockup in PicMonkey or Canva.

In Canva and PicMonkey, you have to go through a laborious process to mock up each design onto each separate mockup template photo over and over and over. If the design needs to be enlarged, rotated, faded out, placed exactly right, and perspective changed so it looks natural in the scene, you have to do all of those things manually with every single mockup you create. In Photoshop, all those tweaks are built into a special layer so your only task is to hit “paste” and save and export and you’re DONE!

If you want to edit colors in those lesser programs, you can only use a few anemic filters and simple lighting controls. In Photoshop you can do practically anything. You can control colors selectively and tweak shades by just sliding a little handle on a hue popup:

Don’t let these pretty pictures intimidate you. You (yes YOU!) can learn how to use mockups just like these once you learn how to use the program.

Worried about the time it will take you to learn Photoshop?

Don’t be. It doesn’t take as long as you’d think and the minor time investment you do make will serve you for years to come. Once you know how to use Photoshop you’ll be able to make any picture into a mockup at a moment’s notice with no additional money outlay.

When I was first learning how to design, I’d take classes on software like Photoshop or Illustrator and the first few lessons were always DEAD boring. They’d go through every single menu and hidden function in the program, and make you do useless, long-winded exercises. All this did was make me abandon-ship by lesson 3. That’s not my style. Chances are, you only need to learn a few functions to get a TON of reward out of Photoshop.

You don’t need any previous experience to be able to use Photoshop mockups

Here's what one of my Mockups for Makers students had to say about what skills she needed before learning from me:

"I knew how to spell Photoshop and that was it. I was very frustrated since I could not put together the virtual product photos I needed to create for my online business."

Sound familiar? I teach total beginners how to use Photoshop every day, so if this rings true then you know you can do it too.

You can go from knowing NOTHING to feeling like Photoshop is fun, in just a few lessons:

“I am totally look forward to using all the things I learned these last few days! Thank you so much, this was super fun and you are an awesome teacher!”

I like to use real-world problems as lessons, and just cover the basic simple tools and commands you need to solve those problems fast. I’m not going to ask you to trace a photo of an Egyptian sarcophagus—that’s probably not helpful for your Etsy shop. Instead, I’ll show you useful stuff in as few steps as possible.

You can do this! I believe in you, and I’m here to help.

Myth: Photoshop is too expensive - I can't afford it! By SarahDesign.com.

Myth #2: Photoshop is too expensive.

You can get Photoshop + Lightroom for $10 a month! (affiliate link) That’s cheaper than most subscription plans, and significantly cheaper than the hundreds of dollars it used to be. Heck, even the premium Canva is $10 a month!

The real truth is Photoshop pays for itself in no time. How much do you spend on stock photos and custom mockup templates per month already? You can buy 2 bundles and a couple loose mockups from me for the same price as a YEAR of Photoshop. And with Photoshop mockup skills you can make UNLIMITED mockups and any other graphic your business needs.

Not to mention de-wrinkling your headshots (not admitting I’ve done this), whitening your teeth (again, my teeth are obviously naturally pearly white 😁) and making cute photo albums of your kids and grandkids :D

Here's what some of my students had to say about the Photoshop cost + skills they learned from my course(s):

"Hiring people from Fiverr, looking things up, and experimenting, cost more in time and frustration than one would ever pay for your course. Your course was the best use of my time and time is money. And the Adobe Photoshop subscription is such a necessity, I don't even think about its cost."

And this:

"I allocated an initial investment to start my site. I knew I had to invest in software to make the images, and I needed to learn how to use that software, so the cost of your course and photoshop pays off! Now instead of trying to make a decent image of a product and taking around 3-4 hours, I can make all the images for all the variations for a product in around 20-30 minutes, especially helpful for products like mine where there are more than 30 different combinations."

Plus, this student explains how she's able to maintain sales of $1000 monthly thanks to Photoshop mockups. Wouldn't you like this to be you?!

"The ability to use mockups to create images in detail as to how a final product will look depending on the options selected, has been an integral factor in increasing sales and maintaining sales of at least 1000 monthly on my online shop website."

Myth: Photoshop is only for designers. By SarahDesign.com.

Myth #3: Photoshop is only for designers.

Not true! Photoshop is a workhorse that is useful for any business that needs graphics. And in my experience, every business needs graphics And you've seen from the testimonials above, that you don't need any experience to get started.

The true power of Photoshop for online stores is its ability to automatically export dozens of images in just a few minutes (sometimes seconds). You can sit down and power out a bunch of design ideas for an hour, click a couple buttons and sit back as they all save out to a folder for you for every single product you sell.

Like my Mockup Scene Creator product. I am able to add designs to products for a bunch of different styled mockup scenes by pasting them into a smart object. Then that design puts itself into ALL the photos in my Photoshop file and I can export all my product listing mockups at once, in seconds.

There's this "golden" 100 products that everyone says you need on Etsy to be successful. And if you have your own online shop or sell on Shopify or Facebook, then you probably are aiming for a similar number so your site looks robust and full of choices for your customers.

Those 100 products don't have to take you months to create.

Using Photoshop mockups like these gives you so much more opportunity to sell because of just one quick export like I showed you in the image above.

Here's what one of my students had to say about stocking up her site with mockups:

"I am able to do pretty much everything I need to create the virtual items I have in my site. Almost 90% of the images in my site, were created in Photoshop and I was able to create them because I took the course. Still go back and re do lessons when I forget how to do a certain activity."

These ladies are just like you! Handmade business owners, trying to find time in the margins to bring additional income for their families. They found out that they didn’t need to be techy, spend hundreds of dollars, or be professional designers to add this skill to their business toolbox. By taking a little time to focus on learning these - not that hard - skills, they’ve gotten the ability to make UNLIMITED mockups.

What do you think, are you ready to give Photoshop mockups a try?

Pop over to my FREE Mockups for Makers Facebook group so you can learn more about how mockups can help your business. It’s chock-full of kind and supportive makers just like you. I can’t wait to get to know you in there! :D

How to Get Your Designs out of Silhouette and Turn Them into a Photoshop Mockup

How to get your designs out of Silhouette and into a Photoshop mockup. By SarahDesign.com

When my students who use Silhouette or Cricut machines want to start making mockups, the first hurdle they have to overcome is how to get their designs OUT of their cutting software and INTO the Photoshop software ($9.99/mo here!) It sounds really hard because your export options are very limited in those programs. But there is a workaround and it’s not hard at all. I can’t wait to show you how!

One of my preferred ways of doing this involves using Adobe Illustrator as a middle step, to trace your artwork (and some folks design their cut files in Illustrator so would already be in there). If that’s you, head to this video first.

But if you don’t have Illustrator, then keep on reading (and watch the videos below) to learn the next steps!

Note to Cricut users: this video demo is in Silhouette but still applies to you! Your interface looks different, but you need to do the same basic process of taking a screenshot of your design (on a white background) and following the steps in Photoshop. So keep on reading!

Video 1 (of 3): How to get your cut file into Photoshop


1) Create Your Design in Silhouette

In the image here, you can see an example that I created in Silhouette. I typed out the word “Welcome”, made sure the fill and the stroke were black, and enlarged the text. (If you need help with this part, just watch this video.)

2) Take a Screenshot

The next step is to take a screenshot. For Mac users, press command+shift+4, and it will take a little picture and save it to your desktop as a png file. For Windows users, you can use the Snipping Tool.

3) Open Screenshot in Photoshop

Next, open up the file that you just saved to your desktop file. To do, this, click File > Open > Desktop > select the screenshot > Open.


4) Select Your Design

At this point, we get to use a handy tool in Photoshop called Color Range. To do this, click Select > Color Range. This will give you a little eyedropper. With the eyedropper, click on the black letters. Make sure that “Selection” is chosen at the bottom, and hit okay. Now it has selected the word “Welcome”.

5) Put Your Design on a New Layer

To put this selection on a new layer, click Edit > Copy, and then Edit > Paste. If you want, you can turn off the old layer to see what the details of that really look like. To do this, add another layer below, and fill it with some bright color, like red. If you really zoom in, it's pretty bumpy around the edges, but it is absolutely good enough for our purposes!

Next, we need to make a smart object for the wood sign area. This will allow us to add new designs quickly and easily to this wood sign mockup in future.

Video 2 (of 3) - How to create a smart object

So far, you have taken your image out of Silhouette and brought it into Photoshop. You have selected your design, and now it should be on its own layer, ready to go and to be put into the scene. The next step in this process is to make a smart object that is at the correct angle.


1) Duplicate the Scene Layer

You can do this by dragging the layer down onto the little button that looks like a piece of paper. Turn off your background layer. Keep this handy in case you make a mistake on this new layer. Believe me, I've been there.

2) Erase any Unneeded Portion in Your Scene

This can be a little time consuming, so take your time and be patient. Use your eyedropper tool to sample the color from the background, and then use your brush. Find a nice soft brush for this, and paint right over top. If you need to change the size of the brush, you can expand or scale down the size. A great keyboard command is to use the brackets on your keyboard. The left bracket makes it smaller, while the right bracket makes it bigger.


3) Fix up the Edges Using the Healing Brush Tool

Now that you have most of the painting done, it might look a little fake around the edges. To fix this, click on the bandaid icon on the left, and use the Healing Brush tool. Anytime you paint between two areas where there is a hard edge of color, you will want to blend the two colors together. Hold down “Option” to sample an area that you are copying over. For example, in the wood sign that I created, I needed the painted section to be a little bit more blue, so I sampled from the blue area. When I needed the unpainted section to be a little bit more taupe, then I sampled from the taupe area. You will need to sample back and forth until it blends the edges.

4) Create a Smart Object

To do this, make a new layer and using the Marquee tool, try to approximate the dimensions of what your shape would be if it were standing straight up, facing the camera. Click Edit > Fill, then choose your color. Deselect your new object. Right click on the words “Layer 1”, and click “Convert to Smart Object”. To make things easier for the future, rename this layer “Smart Object”. Now that this is a smart object, you will be able to stretch it all out of proportion and do crazy things to it, and it won't hurt anything.

5) Transform the Smart Object

Select your Arrow tool. Turn down the opacity so that you can better see what you are doing. Next, you will transform (command+t) your smart object to match the angle that you need. Drag each corner to where you need them, trying to match the angle perfectly.


6) Put Your Design into the Smart Object

Open up the smart object by clicking on the small icon beside the words “Smart Object”. This should open up a new .PSB tab. Find and go to the tab with your design. Be sure that you are on the correct layer, and all of the other layers are turned off, and then select all (command+a). Next, copy (command+c) the design, and go back over to your .PSD file. Paste (command+v) your design into the smart object. Turn off the background color, and save the file. You should now be able to see your design in your scene!

7) Make any Needed Adjustments

If you notice that the position needs to be adjusted, just click on the .PSB tab, readjust the design, and save the file again. You may do this as much as you need to do it, but always remember to save the changes, so that it reflects them on your image.

You could probably be finished right now if you wanted to, or you could take the extra step and make it look more natural, like somebody has rubbed over it with some sandpaper. So that's what I will show you in the next video.

Video 3 (of 3) - How to add realistic texture and color

So far in our process, you have put your design into Photoshop and created a smart object so that you can easily paste it right into your scene. Because it is a smart object, it should be at the perfect angle and it should look pretty good as a whole. However, to make it look more realistic, you will need to add some texture to it.

One way to do this is by pasting a texture file over top and using some functions in the layers palette to make it fit right in.


1) Put the Texture File into Photoshop

Open the texture file in Photoshop. When it opens, click Select > All, and then Edit > Copy. Then close it. You won’t need it anymore. Go back to your scene layer, and click Edit > Paste. It should be right over top of your image. Drag it so that it covers your design. If you are having a hard time seeing through the texture to know if it is covering all of your design, you can turn down the opacity until you get it positioned correctly.- then make sure to turn it back to 100.

2) Mask the Texture

In your Layers Window, click the drop down arrow next to “Normal”. It will give you a menu of several choices. Click “Screen”. The texture should now be white, but still in the original shape. To mask this, hover your mouse between the smart object layer and the new layer with your texture. Hold down option, and you should get an icon that looks like a little arrow and a box. Once you click on it, it will mask it inside of the smart object. Now it should no longer have the original file shape.


3) Adjust Your Design

By changing the opacity on the smart object layer, you can make the texture darker or a lighter to make it look more natural. You could even color this at this point if you would like. To do this, click Effects > Color Overlay. Choose your color.

NOTE: You'll notice that when you used the effects layer to add a color, your texture will not be visible anymore, so there's another way that you can make it visible again. You will need to unmask it by holding option and clicking in between the two layers again. Then go down to the smart object layer, hold down command, and click on the thumbnail. This will select your design only. Go back to your texture layer. Go down to the pallet area, and click “Add Layer Mask”, which is the icon that looks like a little rectangle with a circle in it. This will make a little mask area that only shows up on design.

There you have it!

Not too shabby. It's pretty easy to add that texture in and it looks a lot more natural. I hope this was helpful to you and, as always, remember that you can contact me anytime with any ideas that you have for other tutorials or videos.

What kinds of things would you like to be taught? What kind of imagery would you find invaluable for your Silhouette shop so that you can really stand out from the crowd?