Flat lays are also good when you have to present underwear without models. There are two ways how you can do that: mannequins or flat lays, it's not like there is much choice. We have already discussed mannequins and found out that there are two major disadvantages with that kind of imagery: on one hand, it's not easy to isolate underwear, especially swimming suits with tiny strings and laces. On the other hand, if you try to insert a backside, especially in the panties, the result will look weird. I've shown how it looks in the previous section. Now let's see how to retouch underwear for e-commerce if it's lying flat. Is it any easier than mannequins?
Underwear is usually supposed to be isolated. So there's no point in flat lays or pinwalls, as there will be a background underneath, and you will hard time isolating your items. This is an example of a poorly shot swimming suit for kids. It's all wrinkled and it's not easy to isolate, too, unless you love working with Pen Tool and they pay you per hour.
There are still ways how to shoot items flat and on a bright white background at the same time. Hangers don't really work, as underwear doesn't hold its own shape. But wire racks work, and well.
First of all, if a wire rack is correct in size, panties fit it really well and they do not appear wrinkled or heavily creased. Even if the item is white, it's not really hard to isolate it. All you have to do is erase the wire rack, select the background with the Magic Wand and remove it. Spots where the rack intersects the item can be stamped or you can use the Spot Healing tool on them.
Same with bikini tops. All the tiny strings are not a problem as long as the background is relatively white and consistent. In this image, as well as the previous one, the background is not bright white. It's still very easy to isolate, and it's not a big deal compared to what you have to do to isolate a swimming suit like this if it was shot on a mannequin.
If there are no tiny laces or strings, it's even easier. Erase the rack, remove its traces on the item and select the background with the Magic Wand. In just a few seconds you get perfectly looking panties. Same with the bra, which can also be isolated in under a minute. You can then combine both items in one image to get a set. Just make sure your proportions are right. Both items should be about the same width.
It's not that photographers cannot set you up as they usually do when trying to shoot as many items in one day as they can. Panties too big for a rack will be all wrinkled and creased. And you'll have to deal with the consequences. Now, if I received something like that, I would just send it back to the photographers, as the item was not properly prepared and shot. But what kind of a retouching course would it be if I just rejected everything and refused to retouch it? So I'll do it, but don't forget that it shouldn't be like this in a normal studio, where everyone, including assistants and photographers, is responsible for what they do.
First of all, let's Liquify the top so that it looks straight and parallel to the edge of the image. I'll start with a huge brush and then make it smaller and smaller, as I see fit. The bottom can be also Liquified or just cut in a straight line. Now it's time for the Frequency Separation. I'm doing it not to protect the panties texture, but to protect the seams. There won't be much texture left after resizing, but if I couldn't use split frequencies, I would have had to make a selection around the seams, which is time-consuming. Now that we have the color separated from the texture, let's start removing the wrinkles. I'll use the Brush in Normal mode, no playing around, 100% Opacity. It will take me long enough without having to paint over the same areas a few times. I'll start with the biggest folds and move on to smaller ones. The most tricky area is the one that has a shadow. I have to keep it, otherwise, it will look strange. Don't expect a perfect result here, not with this amount of wrinkles everywhere.
When all the big and the small wrinkles are gone, I'll flatten the image, resize it and finish the job with a small Clone Stamp brush if it's still necessary. All the time I spent on this image could have been spent on something more important, only if the photographer used a wire rack of a proper size, and pulled the panties a bit higher before taking the picture. This is why I insist images like this to be rejected – not because we can't retouch them, but because it's not worth spending a few minutes for something that could be done in a few seconds.
I think that's pretty much it with the flat lays. This kind of imagery really depends on photographers and assistants, as the same item can be very crooked and wrinkled, or it can be nice and flat and symmetrical. If you deal with well prepared and properly shot items, you won't have much trouble retouching them. Most of the retouching problems can be fixed in the previous stages.