All You Need to Know About Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

all you need to know about ghost mannequin product photography

If you’re in the online apparel business, you know how challenging it can be to portray how a product fits. Customers want to know what your products will look like when worn, not when lying flat—but hiring a model for all your product photos can be cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, you have options! Today, we’ll show you everything you need to know about a new alternative to model photos: the ghost mannequin effect

What is the Ghost Mannequin Effect?

The ghost mannequin effect is a powerful post-production technique for apparel photography. This technique involves editing together photos of the interior and exterior of your garment and removing all traces of the model or mannequin, leaving behind a photo that perfectly represents how your product fits in 3D.

Flat-lay apparel photos can discourage buyers because they fail to represent the full dimensions of your products. 3D silhouettes can accelerate your sales by allowing your customers to imagine themselves in the clothes and feel more confident in their purchases.

Ghost mannequin photos can be hard to reproduce, especially for non-professional editors. But it just might be easier than you think, and currently, there are great tools out there to help you spruce up your product photos without breaking the bank.

Benefits of Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

Ghost mannequins have a number of advantages for fashion retailers.

  1. Cost-Efficient

Mannequin photography is much cheaper than hiring a model, which means you can get gorgeous product images and invest in other areas of your business.

  1. Clarity and Transparency

Your customers want to be sure that what they see is what they’ll get, and ghost mannequins are perfect for showing the shape, style, and drape of each garment. When your customers can make informed and confident purchases, they’ll be happy to come back for more. 

  1. Consistency

Ghost mannequin photos give your e-store a consistent, uniform look, which in turn makes your products look professional and polished for potential buyers. Visual consistency helps your customers trust that no matter what they purchase, they’ll receive a quality product.

  1. Competitive Edge

An e-store full of consistent, eye-catching product photos won’t just entice your customers—it’s also a professional advantage over businesses with flat, uninteresting photos that don’t show off their products to their full effect. Ghost mannequin photography will put you a cut above the rest.

Ghost Mannequin Photography Setup Guide

Here’s how professional product photographers jump into the process.

1. Choose a Model or Mannequin

If you choose to work with a model, their style and pose must be minimal, with hair tied up. This will simplify the editing process later. Make sure the model keeps a static, balanced pose.

For ghost mannequin photography, it’s always best to work with white or transparent mannequins as they easily blend with the background. In some cases, dress forms work better to accentuate the details and shape of the apparel. Try matte white mannequins, as they are non-reflective and make the editing process easier.

Pro tip: Use mannequins with removable parts for maximum customization.

2. Setup Process

Ghost mannequin photography requires good studio lighting. Low-quality lighting will make it difficult to achieve the desired effect, even in post-production. Make sure your studio has adequate photography lights, reflectors, and umbrellas. 

Remember, you want your mannequins to be styled elegantly, so make sure you have all the essentials for making your clothes look crisp—clips, hangers, styling pins, and busts are a must. No one will rush to check out if the apparel on their screen looks saggy or wrinkled.

Choose a camera with a telephoto lens to minimize distortion and capture tiny details. Don’t forget your tripod for stable pictures!

Pro Tip: Ensure all images have the same lighting for consistency and ease of post-production editing.

3. Photographing the Outfit

After gathering your equipment, it’s time to shoot your products. Remember not to photograph the outfit from too high or too low an angle, as it can be unflattering. Pros generally take product photos from chest height. 

To create a 3D effect, follow these steps:

  1. First, capture the front and back view of the outfit on the model or mannequin.
  2. Next, turn each garment inside out. Style and hang each garment on a foam board and photograph the front and back again. These board shots illustrate the interior of the garment when merging the images.
  3. For collared shirts or dresses, make sure the collar is open and the inner lining is clearly visible.

What to Avoid

For Product Shots

  1. Hands or props blocking the camera’s view of the attire
  2. Uneven or asymmetrical poses
  3. Overlapping fabrics

For Inlay Shots

  1. Uneven, non-uniform neckline (for tops)
  2. Cropped or uneven waistline (for bottoms)
  3. Cropped margins in the images

Editing and Automation Options for Ghost Mannequin Photography

Generating ghost mannequins in Photoshop can be intimidatingly complex, especially for new photographers. Fortunately, you don’t need to do it alone. Tools like autoRetouch can take the hassle out of the editing process—and autoRetouch offers the world’s first AI-enabled ghost mannequin generator! All you have to do is upload your images, and you’ll have web-ready photos in a few minutes. 

This is how the autoRetouch algorithm generates automatic ghost mannequins:

  1. First, the background is removed from the original photo and inlay image.
  2. Next, the product and inlay images are combined.
  3. The inlay seam is camouflaged to add a 3D effect and a shadow effect is added with the image depth.
  4. Lastly, files are exported in PSD or PNG format.

Using tools like autoRetouch, you can generate your own ghost mannequins without hiring professionals or spending hours on editing. The flexible pricing options also ensure that nothing cuts into your profits.

Pro Tip: Keep the file size under 50 MB for best results.

Best Practices for Automated Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

Ghost mannequin photography might seem challenging from the outside—but with this guide in hand, it doesn’t have to be a mystery. With the right equipment and tools in your pocket, you can start creating your own ghost mannequin images and polish up your online presence right away.  Before you go, here’s a quick checklist of ways to make sure your ghost mannequin photos stand out from the crowd.

  1. Use a white or gray backdrop.
  2. Make sure all garments are free of creases and wrinkles.
  3. Style your outfits elegantly. Hide buttons, fix collars, and let laces lie naturally.
  4. Place the garment symmetrically on the model or mannequin.
  5. Hold the product taut and straight when capturing the inlay images.
  6. Make sure nothing obstructs the outfit.
  7. Use an editing tool like autoRetouch to quickly and easily combine and polish your product images!

Tips & Tricks to Ace Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

When it comes to selling clothes online, the conventional methods don’t cut it anymore. Smart sellers are constantly innovating, seeking the latest strategies for crafting a brand identity that stands out from the crowd. If you’re in search of an enticing new way to represent your apparel to shoppers, the ghost mannequin effect might be just what you’re looking for.

If you’re not already familiar with the ghost mannequin effect, it’s a technique that involves photographing apparel on a model or mannequin, then erasing the mannequin to produce sophisticated, realistic 3D product images. It can be tricky for beginners since it requires some advanced photography and editing skills, but never fear—this guide is designed to help you master the art of ghost mannequin photography. 

Tips to Ace Ghost Mannequin Photography

1. Choose the Perfect Fit and Pose

Whether you’re working with a model or a mannequin, you want your garments to look runway-ready. Make sure your garments fit as well as possible (though don’t worry if it’s not picture-perfect—we’ll cover tips for perfecting your fit in step 4!). 

Resist the urge to give your mannequin or model a natural or relaxed pose. Uneven, comfortable poses don’t work well for ghost mannequin photography—everything must be symmetrical, taut, and stable for the best results.

Pro Tip:

i) Select mannequins with removable arms and shoulders for a better, more customizable shape.

ii) If a garment has sleeves, make sure they drape downwards.

2. Choose the Right Camera and Equipment

You can try out ghost mannequin photos with almost any camera, but if you’re looking for that extra polish, here’s what experts in the industry recommend:

i) Canon 6D Mark II –- suitable for all kinds of product pictures.

ii) Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens – for taking pictures without distortions.

iii)  Well-built tripod to ensure the stability of the camera.

Optimal lighting will be soft and evenly distributed. It must be sufficient to create a depth of field on your products.

For the background, it’s always best to go with a plain white backdrop. Unlike colorful or complex backgrounds, white backdrops are easy to erase in the post-production stage.

Pro Tip:

i) Do not place your mannequin or model too close to the backdrop, as it will create harsh shadows.

ii) Conduct a test photo session to ensure the lighting is even.

iii) For best results, use the following camera settings:

  • ISO:100
  • Aperture: f/8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125
  • Flash Power: 3.0
  • White Balance- Auto

3. Shoot for Symmetry

When capturing ghost mannequin photos, symmetry is your best friend to ensure an easy editing process later. This is easiest when photographing from shoulder height, as other angles can be unflattering or distorted—not what you want when introducing potential customers to your apparel!

It’s difficult to measure exact symmetry with the naked eye, so use the grid overlay on your camera to make sure that the hems and other lines of your garment are straight. 

4. Stock the Studio and Accessorize 

Not every garment will fit your mannequin perfectly—but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a less-than-perfect photo. Make sure you have plenty of pins and clips on hand and use them to style your apparel. You can clip up the back and armpit areas of your garments to make them look sleeker. However, try to avoid pulling the outfit too taut as it will emphasize the shape of the mannequin instead of the apparel. Try the following tips to further level up your style game:

● Use crepe paper to stuff areas that need to be emphasized or shaped.

● Add belts, scarves, jewelry, etc. to make your mannequin’s style pop.

5. Take Your Best Shot

When shooting shirts or dresses with collars, ensure the camera is at the garment’s chest height. For bottoms, position the camera at hip height to capture pants, skirts, shoes, etc. 

Make sure to keep your camera steady with a tripod to avoid odd angles. Photographing your attire at an angle will cause the garment to look tapered, which will make it very challenging to edit the photos together properly later.

Don’t forget to rotate the mannequin and take pictures from different angles. You want to capture the back and front of the garment, but you’ll also want detail shots of the fabric, lining, zippers or buttons, and other standout elements of your apparel. Remember, customers want to shop with confidence, and detailed product photos help them choose your apparel over the competition.

Pro Tip:

Use a telephoto lens to reduce distortions and capture intricate details.

Why Choose Ghost Mannequin Photography?

By now you might be thinking This sounds like a lot of work. Why go to the trouble of mastering ghost mannequin photos when you could hire a model or choose a simpler approach to capturing your apparel, such as flat-lay photography? It’s a good question—as a business owner, you want to choose the most effective and cost-efficient approach. Here are a few reasons why ghost mannequin photography is worth the investment.

  1. Clarity and Focus

Don’t let anything distract from your products—even the best model can steal the focus from your attire. Meanwhile, flat-lay photos don’t capture how your garments fit, so they aren’t as helpful or representative for customers. Ghost mannequin photos are the best of both worlds, placing the focus on your products while representing their shape and style on the human form. 

  1. Increased Professionalism

Make it as easy as possible for customers to have faith in your brand. Using 3D images that fully capture the fit of your garment makes your products look compelling and trustworthy. The sleek ghost mannequin effect looks sleek and modern and emphasizes your professionalism. 

  1. Consistency

Ghost mannequin images remove the inconsistencies that can come with model photos and create a uniform visual style regardless of the style or type of garment being photographed, helping you brand your e-store across all your products. 

  1. Time & Budget Efficiency

Although it requires some investment upfront, the process for creating ghost mannequin photos can be streamlined to make it just as efficient as other types of product photography. And when it comes to your editing budget, there are some great options available to keep time and costs down, like autoRetouch’s ghost mannequin tool, which can automate the entire post-production stage and generate finished images in just a few minutes.

Bottom Line:

Impressing your customers with high-quality images is essential to capturing their attention in the online space, and ghost mannequin photos are both striking and beautifully detailed. There’s no better way to represent your apparel online

Like everything else, ghost mannequin photography requires practice. Start by ordering a good-quality mannequin and play around with the basics until you feel confident in taking the next steps. Ultimately, ghost mannequin photos are a cost-effective and exciting way to promote your products.

What is a Ghost Mannequin and Why Should You Care

invisible mannequin photograph

Ghost mannequin photography, also known as the “invisible mannequin,” “3D mannequin,” or “hollow man,” enables clothing product photography to adhere to ecommerce product photography best practices. Ghost mannequin photography allows for fashion product photography to highlight the best features in garments and accessories by showcasing the different angles of the product or garment. Consumers want to view how fashion products will look while being worn, hence, using flat or folded product images don’t provide the necessary level of detail to “sell product”. The ghost mannequin photoshoot requires a specific set-up to get the most of the invisible mannequin photography shoot. In this post, we highlight what ghost mannequin photography actually is and how to employ the process using an AI photo enhancement process. 

Essentially, invisible mannequin photography is a combination of two or more images—also known as a “composite image.” The first photo is taken using a model or mannequin. The accompanying images are flat views of any part of the interior of the garment that was blocked by the model or mannequin, often shot on a white foam board. Tapping the mannequin effect is a cost-efficient way to produce brilliant fashion product photography without breaking the bank. In this blog, we highlight how to get the most of your mannequin photoshoot and post-production processing inclusive of the AI bulk photo editing features found on autoRetouch. The result is a lifelike image that keeps the focus firmly on your fashion product without distractions that can deter ecommerce sales.

Invisible Mannequin Photography Shoot Set-Up Guide

The materials needed for the invisible mannequin photography shoot include the following:

  1. A on-body model or any modular mannequin – with removable chest and arms – can be used for getting invisible product shots by removing pieces individually 
  2. Camera
  3. LED studio lighting (one for each side of the product or garment)
  4. Two light reflectors or umbrellas
  5. White foam board or white backdrops
  6. Styling tools such as clips, pins, double-sided tape to help the clothes fit more tightly
  7. Products inclusive of unwrinkled garments

Start by taking a product photograph of the fashion garment on the mannequin or model in differing angles such as front, back and profile.

Next, take pictures of the underside of the garments or product images.

Pro Tip:

Use a static pose if you are using a live model. Models should be styled minimally (i.e. no jewelry, etc.), and long hair should be tied up.

Best practices for the mannequin photoshoot dictate that you create high quality photographs in a studio setting.  Professional grade cameras and specialized lighting techniques using reflectors, along with  garment fit are all key components needed for a flawless finish. 

Photographing a product from an angle that is either too high or too low may cause the garment to look tapered and inaccurate. When photographing blouses, jackets or tops, it’s important to photograph at chest level.

How To Create a 3D Product Image With An Invisible Mannequin

To create a 3D image with the invisible mannequin technique, you will need to employ all the images that were taken with the garment from varying angles. This means that the mannequin or live model employing a static pose, will be photographed from at least two different poses. After that, you should style and hang your product on a piece of white foam board and photograph both the front, back and varying views again; these foam board shots will allow you to detail the inner areas of the garments such as liner, stitching, etc.

It’s imperative to ensure that the exact same lighting settings are used for both the mannequin/model shots and the foam board shots. You can do this by marking the mannequin’s or live model’s location and placing the white foam board in exactly the same spot and at the same height. 

After the photoshoot, you will need to open the mannequin image and the foam board image in your post-production processing software tool such as Photoshop or autoRetouch. Select your model or mannequin image and remove the background. Fill that layer in with a uniform color such as white. 

Once you have selected the entire product, refine your product image so that you have eliminated all of the background and mannequin out of the photo. You should see your product floating freely on the white background. If necessary, refine the product’s edges to ensure a polished and finished look.

autoRetouch’s photo bulk editing workflows are compatible with layered photoshop files. In fact, you can export all of your edits as layers in a PSD file and include auto-generated masks and vector paths to easily continue editing. This AI image editing workflow enables you to easily compare your edits to the original image and switch between the two with both images included in the exported result. Additional workflows are also available for fashion product photography such as Fabric Swatch extraction. On average, it takes only five seconds to fully retouch an image on the platform. 

Try autoRetouch for free today.