LiveSurface Context

LiveSurface Context has just been launched by Brooklyn-based Josh Distler. It’s an Adobe Illustrator add-on that renders your flat artwork to a range of contextual photos in seconds.

I had a go with the free trial. It’s excellent. And at $9 per month (or $89 for a year) it’s much cheaper than a stock photography subscription. You can cancel at any time if it’s for a one-off project or for occasional use.

LiveSurface Context

All the available contexts are shown here.

I’ve embedded the promotional video below (email subscribers might need to view the post).

LiveSurface Context

Get the free trial on this page (Mac only).

Read a few words from Creative Review’s Mark Sinclair.

Brilliant work, Josh.

Free passes

Josh gave me some codes so you can get the high-res non-watermarked mockups for free. I’ve got five 1-month codes and two 1-year codes. To enter, share a recent brand identity that stood out from a design studio portfolio or an inspiration website (just to add some interest to the comment thread). I’ll randomly draw names next Wednesday (6th November) and email the codes.

Update: Wednesday 06 November
The magnificent seven are Nick Wilmot, Laura Miller, Anthony Schmiedeler, Richard Knobbs, Jess, Steve Perry, and Richard Baird. Codes are on their way.

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  1. I’ve been using it since they first launched, incredibly useful.

  2. Interesting bit of kit, will definitely look at using it for client presentations. Little concerned that designers may be tempted to render out conceptual work with a photorealistic finish and pass it off as a live project. Difficult to compete with.

  3. Hi Atakan, Richard, I updated the post with a code giveaway in case you’re interested. Cheers for dropping in.

  4. Thanks David, I’d gladly enter, not sure I really get this ‘link to your favourite identity’ business though.

  5. I already have a one-year pass, but I’ll let a couple of friends know about it. Thanks!

  6. Nick Wilmot

    This looks great (and a little lazy, sorry, time saving!).

    Really love the Wedge & Fig ID you featured a while back David: – consider that my entry to your comp!


  7. I really do believe that taking the extra time to put a design concept in context is well worth it. It aids highly in selling your concept to the clients when they see it in context. Glad to hear about this add on for Illustrator! Are the giveaways only compatible with Mac as well, or will they work with PC?

  8. Paul Price

    Already tested this in work (large digital agency) and very pleased with the results. Our collective favourite rebrand has been ITV.

  9. Laura Miller

    This looks like it would be a great tool especially for packaging design. Here is some design work from one of my latest favorite designers:

  10. Love this context thing, though I feel like it’s only useful for quick mockups…

    …but I’d definitely love to use that code!

    Here’s a Dickies brand book that caught my eye a little while back. I think it’s creative and fun and fits the brand perfectly.

  11. Yeah, first thing that came to mind, Richard. There’ll be better ideas but I thought it might offer up something new.

    Nick, one of my favourites, too. The handcrafted approach works brilliantly.

    I like that, Laura, and other work coming from Moodley.

    Sherrie, it’s only available for Mac, unfortunately. I’m not sure if Josh will release a PC version.

    I can only imagine the committee in the ITV project, Paul. Fair play to Rudd and everyone involved.

    Anthony, that’s the idea — useful for quick mockups. It leaves more time for the earlier idea generation. Nice choice with Dickies. It’s good to see a company’s history remembered like that.

  12. That looks great. Thanks for sharing, David.

    As for the identity, I like what Snohetta did for Avinor:

    Very minimal, but lovely. And I love the idea of sharing nice identities!

  13. This looks like a really powerful plugin, certainly of use.

    Here’s my entry, the Autentika Corporate Identity;

  14. Hi David, I kind of meant in general, what’s the goal of having people link out? Is it a blogging convention that I’m missing?

  15. Very nice, Richard. Flexible, appropriate, understated.

    The Klavika customisations are an improvement there, Steve, for the brand name at least. Good share. I’m not keen on that Edison quote, though, “To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” It associates Autentika with junk.

    No convention, Rich, just an idea to share the work of others.

  16. And perhaps to foster engagement, not sure why I didn’t realise earlier.

    The Company You Keep have a bunch of new ID projects up on their website, really well shot stuff as well –

  17. Appreciate this! It looks awesome the ease of use on the program is great and really cuts down time of mocking it all up. I’ve always loved Chase Design Group’s work (their work on branding buffy the vampire slayer… BIG fan) But here’s one of their more recent works that I love:

  18. Good find, this looks really interesting and useful.

  19. This would be very useful! David, check this link out: This is the rebrand of Grant Macewan University located in Edmonton Alberta Canada. Very cool how they came up with the idea.

  20. I saw this brand identity recently and really liked the colourful variations for lots of different icons:

    It was featured in a book, “Introducing: Visual Identities for Small Businesses.” A lot of the projects in there could have done with LiveSurface Context to visualise their designs!

  21. Looks very handy!
    Liking this a lot:

  22. Very good point there, David!

  23. Afan Ghafor

    Thank you for the review, David. The app looks very useful and timesaving.

    A redesign of a brand I liked is from Neue in Norwegen for the tourism identity.

    It’s flexible for different purposes.

  24. This is brilliant. It’ll absolutely save time and help present the concept to clients much more effectively. Thanks David!

  25. I just had a look round their website, Richard. Yep, lovely work.

    Thanks everyone. I’ll draw those names shortly and update the post.

  26. Looks like a really useful tool. Are there multiple options for each type of mockup? We do billboard mockups a lot. Always looking for some quicker and newer options.

  27. Wow, this is a really great tool! I guess I won’t be needing to open the 3D software as much anymore. I love how these tools are becoming more relevant to our needs.

  28. I’ve had a play with this and I’ll have to say that I’m impressed, it’s very useful and very powerful. A great tool for designers.

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