Mockup has design placement errors

From time to time some designers get errors with their final render where it appears as if the design is shifted, improperly placed or outright missing. To understand why this happens can be confusing to designers not familiar with how Smart Objects work, in fact part of the blame is mine for not foreseeing this issue and I appologize for the disruption.

Lets start with looking at a generic template for a brochure design:

Generic brochure design

Ok, so the brochure texture sample above looks completely normal. It’s crisp and each of the 3 panel designs are so precise that we cannot make out exactly where the fold lines are — this should totally work right? Well, not if some of the design elements are Smart Objects which exceed the bounds of the document workspace.

As we see in the final render below, the third panel is completely out of alignment.

PSDCovers brochure mockup render fail

So why is it failing if the design is perfect? The devil is in the details as they say. Take a look at the following image where I have the design for the third panel selected…

PSDCovers brochure with oversized SmartObject

As you can see in the image above, something not quite right.  In fact I have purposely exagerated the issue so that it really stands out.  The problem is that although the design is perfectly placed and looks great, the third panel contains a SmartObject which extends well beyond the boundary of the canvas (the grey area is the grey we see in Photoshop which surrounds our document.  When parts of our design creep into this area we can nolonger see the image and could potentially loose the data when the document is cropped or exported).

The Problem:

When the Action is executed the first thing it does is crop the document down to a preset pixel dimension hardcoded into the Action itself.  The cropping process ensures that as the Action forges ahead it will be working with a known pixel dimension, this is how the Action can successfully make marquee selections to slice up the design. Unfortunately, and this is my fault for not anticipating this, SmartObjects cannot be cropped — as the Action proceeds to render your mockup it is now working with a design which may far exceed the dimensions it was expecting.  This is why designs can be a few pixels off centre or completely missing — it all depends on how far out-of-bounds your SmartObject is.

The Solution:

Rasterize your Smart Object layers before running STEP 2.  With your Smart Object rasterized the Action will properly crop the design to the dimensions it is expecting to work with.

In early 2015 there will be a new PSDCovers plugin for Photoshop which will automatically stream old and new Actions directly to a panel in Photoshop.  This panel will make searching for product mockups much easier and one of the benefits will be that it automatically takes care of this issue.

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