This tutorial shows you how to mock up a product and add a foil block finish using Photoshop.
As designers we frequently find ourselves mocking up a product, which – for one reason or another – does not exist yet. Maybe the product hasn't returned from the printers, or for a presentation to win that all-important pitch.
As the expense of special finishes such as foil blocking are reserved for the most lavish of clients. Mocking-up these products beforehand can be a worthy investment.
Time to complete
The supporting files for this tutorial can be downloaded from
This tutorial is applicable to any medium, a mock magazine or book cover, flyer or an invitation. For this tutorial we'll make a mock 7” record sleeve.
The sleeve is a lovely example of a tactile, tangible vessel for terrific design.
As with any design, I need some inspiration. For this project, I’m mocking up a record sleeve for electronica artist
I wanted the design to reflect the music, which has a digital urban feel. The starting point was a selection of cityscape photos featuring the stark forms of brutalist buildings.
I copied and pasted separate cutouts of the photos and placed them all on one document, changing colours and blending modes.
Experiment with a design of your own using a different combination of effects, colours and compositions.
You might have a perfect idea of what you want to foil block. Here – for simplicity’s sake – I wanted to put a foil block effect on the text and the flat vector elements.
All the artwork is placed on the background layer, with all the vector elements separate.
For this project, I wanted to apply two contrasting foil effects: one silver and one gold foil.
Merge your text and vector layers to two layers: one for the parts you want to apply the gold foil effect to, and one for silver. Label your layers accordingly with your artwork on the third layer.
Now you need a photograph of some foil. I took my own photo, which is free to download from
here though you can also find stock photography of foil quite easily from Shutterstock, iStock or even for free on http://all-free-download.com.
Whichever source you use, ensure you find a photo of foil with reflective variations and subtle textural imprints.
Drag your foil onto your Photoshop document.
Name this layer 'Foil' in the Layers panel, and place it under the layer you want to foil block (here the layer called ‘Silver foil block’ that has the white text on it).
To define the area you want finished with foil, Cmd/Ctrl + click on the 'Silver foil block' layer in the Layers panel.
Make sure you click on the thumbnail and not the text – do this right and a dotted square will appear.
This will select the white text, and a dotted line will appear around it.
Turn off the visibility of the 'Silver foil block' layer and select the ‘Foil’ layer.
Make sure the selection is still live – you can see if the selection is still live if the dotted line is still visible. Now click on the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of your Layers panel.
Now you have your foil masked, we want to make it shine. Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment, either through the Adjustments panel or by selecting
Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast.
I've also duplicated the ‘Foil’ layer without the layer mask. We’ll use this later for the second foil effect.
Zoom right into the foil and play around with other Adjustments until you're happy with the look.
For example, going back to my source images, I also noticed a very mild relief effect on the edges of the foil.
I mimicked this with a layer style, which I’ll run through how to create next. The trick here is to replicate this effect very subtly.
Add a Layer Style (
Layers > Layer Style) and add a drop shadow.
For Blend Mode select Screen. Change the colour from black to white, set the opacity to 100, distance 1 and size 0. This will add a faint subtle line to mimic the imprint of the foil being pressed into the paper.
This is the final relief effect.
Now add a second foil effect, this time in gold. Select the ‘Foil copy’ layer that you added earlier and let’s make this layer gold.
Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation (or use an adjustment layer from the Adjustments panel. Change Hue to 58, Saturation to 36 and select Colorise. Click Ok.
Now repeat steps 8-13 on the Gold foil block layer.
When you have finished these steps, flatten the layer and superimpose this onto a photograph of an existing record sleeve. This will retain the subtle textural edges and shadows of the photograph, which are difficult to mimic.
Select your design, go to
Modify > Contract by 1 pixel then Modify> Feather by 1 pixel so a slightly feathered edge lines your design. This will eliminate the clean harsh edge.
Now re-porpotion your design to match the record sleeve. Press
Cmd/Ctrl + T to transform it. Hold down Cmd/Ctrl to free transform it, and drag the corners of the design to match the corners of the record.
Once this is re-propotioned to sit on top of your record sleeve, use the Eraser tool to clean up the edges.