The making of a 'lookbook'


This blog post is brought to you by me - Tanya Paget.  I design under the name 'Albaquirky' and am a member of the Finch & Foxglove collective. Alongside exhibiting regularly with the Finch & Foxglove collective I also work with different agents and studios to market and sell my surface designs. 

My fellow finch Adrienne Kerr and I both work with the agent Nerida Hansen on a regular basis. We have been very busy over the last few months putting together fresh new designs specifically for the interiors and homewares markets to exhibit with Nerida at Heimtextil over in Frankfurt in January.  

One important tool we use to share work with potential buyers and clients is the 'lookbook'. These are usually printed portfolio books, designed to show the work and often using 'mock-ups' to help the viewer visualise how the designs might work on products. I've done a few of these over time, my first two were for Surtex in 2016.

Surtex 2016 lookbooks

Surtex 2016 lookbooks

Since making these first lookbooks I've learnt a lot and developed my thinking around this sort of portfolio book and I wanted to share some tips, tricks and a little sneak peak of my designs going out to Frankfurt in a few weeks time.  

Design tips

Firstly you need to decide how you will be printing your lookbook, as this affects your choices regarding shape and size.  Lots of designers use Blurb to do their printing.  Keep an eye out for discounts as they often have some good offers on to help keep your costs down. Blurb have specific size formats, so take care to follow their guidance on how to set everything out. My most recent lookbooks have been printed by an independent printshop and spiral bound. Adobe InDesign - if you have access to it - is the ideal software for your page layouts. Be consistent in how the elements of each page work together, use a grid system and keep type, graphic elements and things like titles and page numbers consistent.

Designing my Heimtextil lookbook using InDesign

Designing my Heimtextil lookbook using InDesign

I like to work in collections and when designing for Nerida Hansen we are given trend related colour palettes to use too, this helps keep everything very coherent. I start each collection with a full page image as in the example above. My recent lookbooks have been 30cm square and the square format lends itself to being split into a grid of 4 squares, also shown above.  I break up the visual rhythm of the pages, by mixing up smaller images with full page images.  I sometimes have to break the master grid if it works better with the image I have to use, as in the example spread below. If I do this, I then use the same ratios in any future layouts to have consistency even when breaking the rules!

break the grid.jpg


The mock-ups need to be relevant to the market you are targeting; the examples below were for Premier Vision, Paris September '17. This is primarily a fashion focused show, so it makes sense to show the work on clothing and accessories. I like to have a little fun with my mock-ups, this is part of my identity as a designer, my strap line is 'pattern for individuals' so I look for opportunities to talk about this visually.  It is also important to me to be diverse in my choices of model (when using them) and to bring in a little humour and quirkiness!

Sourcing mock-ups  

There is a bit of a balancing act when sourcing my mock-ups, in an ideal world I'd make all my own to keep the lookbook unique and individual. However, it takes time creating mock-ups from scratch and you are often on quite a short time frame when designing your lookbook!   So I balance out home-made images with off the shelf mock-ups. Below is a sneak peak of a couple of spreads from my lookbook for Heimtextil, both of these are using ready made mock-ups. It is always a whole lot of fun seeing your designs come to life on products!  


Ready made mock-ups

There are various websites selling off the shelf mock-up files.  These are usually layered PSDs that have been set up ready for you to edit and drop in your own designs. They regularly use 'smart objects' and are quick and easy to use.  Be careful to check the image size and resolution before purchasing ready made mock-ups, as some can be unsuitable for print and quite low resolution.  My preferred website to buy mock-ups is Creative Market, but I have also occasionally used Graphic River.  Use the search term 'mock-up' and you'll find lots of options. 

A ready made mock-up design by Nerida Hansen

A ready made mock-up design by Nerida Hansen

Nerida Hansen has some of her own ready made mock-ups available through Creative Market, the above bedding set is one of hers, with my designs added. The original editable Photoshop file comes as below, ready for you to place your designs in.


Home made mock-ups

Although ready-made mock-ups are convenient and time saving, the disadvantage is that there might not be exactly the thing you need for your design and they will have been used by lots of other designers in their lookbooks. Whenever possible I mix in my own mock-ups to bring a bit more of my personal style.


When making my own mock-ups, first I search stock libraries like adobe stock and getty images for high quality photographs (the image above is an adobe stock one). They need to have the right feel to them for my style, be a decent resolution (to be suitable to print at 300dpi and fill an A4 or larger page) and preferably have plain surfaces for me to apply my designs to. Purchasing images this way can add up, so I will often download low resolution watermarked versions to begin with, test the mock up out in Photoshop and if happy, then purchase the high resolution files to use. 


Images with nice clean hard edges like this bowl stack are easiest to work with.  This image above was given to me as part of the resources from a Make it in Design surface pattern design course. I used vector masks to create shapes for each bowl, made smart objects to place my patterns in, and finally warped each smart object to give a more realistic feeling of shape and form to the pattern.

Warping each smart object to follow the bowl curves

Warping each smart object to follow the bowl curves

I have also made my own photoshoots, using my home to style and work with. The example below is made from a photograph taken in my dining room and then edited to allow me to mock-up wallpaper. Keep an eye on my fellow finch Bryony Clarkson's instagram feed to spot some of her very stylish home made mock-ups too.

A mock-up made from a photograph taken in my dining room.

A mock-up made from a photograph taken in my dining room.

I hope I have given you some insights and a bit of a behind the scenes view of the making of a lookbook! If you happen to be at Heimtextil in January stop by Nerida Hansen's booth to see a whole range of them in real life.