Mock-ups to save the day

by / Thursday, 28 August 2014 / Published in Creativity, Process and Procedures

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In that case, a mock-up may be worth a million.

Back in the day I remember creating a directory as a school project for my student union. I thought I knew it all, imposing my file, outputting the film, creating the plates. I was able to get a lab tech to volunteer his time to run the presses to produce my directory. To my disappointment, chagrin and dismay the final document opened up backwards. Fortunately, we caught it after the first few printed sheets. My course instructor was furious but still had the heart to volunteer his time to run the presses after I had corrected my mistake. If I’d made a mock-up first, I could have prevented many heartaches.

I find it kind of odd that when I was a young kid, I would play around with paper, cutting shapes and making paper airplanes. We’ve all done it. Heck I even created a whole paper airport once! Yet, when it comes time to make a mock-up, we send our most junior person to do it. Or, worse yet, we don’t do it at all for the sake of “saving” time and money.

Why is that?

Has this become such a tedious job that we make it out to be only a few steps higher than kitchen duties? You do have kitchen duties at your work place right? If anything, this is one of the most important steps to take before final art approval. It gives you the final hands-on, real world look and feel of how your art piece will be presented. It confirms all your designs fit together properly as you pictured them in your mind. Mock-ups are also a great tool for catching mistakes. Yup, I’ll say it – the primary reason some people don’t do mock-ups, is that no one wants to find a mistake, especially at the 11th hour. It’s strange how afraid of mistakes we become. The truth is, however, we still make them. If we can just embrace that fact, we can avoid them ending up in print, when it’s too late to fix.

I actually enjoy creating mock-ups. Nowadays I create mockups for store displays and banners as well as brochures. It brings me back to building that paper airport as a kid. Of course, there’s a bit more precision needed now than when I was younger but the feeling is still there when I see the final results. I also don’t mind catching mistakes. Sometimes I don’t find mistakes exactly, but I’ll see how a design can work even better. I definitely appreciate when that happens as it just makes the final product so much more amazing.

This is an important step in your workflow process. I definitely would encourage everyone to make sure a mock-up is done before your files are sent out. Do not skip this step no matter how much pressure you get to “save time”. Fortunately, I learned my lesson years ago in a classroom where nothing important or costly was really in jeopardy. Don’t wait for a big-budget, million dollar printing project to learn yours. Make a simple mockup, and save the day.

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