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Underwear on mannequins

Retouching underwear on mannequins is tricky. We have the transparency problem, we have the symmetry problem, and it also looks weird as hell, especially panties. Not to mention that it's also hard to remove the background with all the thin strings and laces!

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As I said, not all kinds of clothes look good on mannequins. Underwear is one of the worst things you might face in your catalogue retouching career. Let's see what's so difficult about this whole situation. First of all, it's not easy to isolate all these tiny strings. You have to use the Pen Tool, and you know it's one of the slowest ways to isolate something. I will not be wasting your time and showing how I isolated these two images, but as you can see, there's a lot of work to do with the Pen Tool. It took me a few minutes. Too much time. But this is not over yet.

When I insert the backside, it doesn't really fit well. So I'll make the upper part fit, then cut the lower part to the separate layer and make it fit, too. But doesn't it look weird to you? Do you really think it's supposed to look like this in real life, it was put on an invisible mannequin? I don't think so.

Transparent items are another major problem. When you put something like this on a mannequin, you will see the plastic through the mesh. Is it supposed to look like this? No, there should be the insides of the item seeing through, not the mannequin surface. Is it possible to remove the mannequin from under the transparent material? Well, not really. It is possible, but only in some cases, and it's not like the result will be great every time. You can try and use the Frequency Separation, and then paint over the plastic areas with a darker color. It's not perfect, but still a solution. Only it won't work with all the items, as there's a limit to what can be achieved by splitting the frequencies.

It can get even worse. Backside inserted in panties will look even more weird than if there was no backside at all. Look at this item. As I try to insert the backside into the image, you can see that the top part fits pretty nice and natural, but the bottom looks extremely weird with all these huge bulges. It's not supposed to look like that. And it will look much better without any backside. It means that we have to sacrifice the real shape of the item to avoid this strange appearance.


How can all these problems be avoided or solved? There's one very good solution that works all the time: do not shoot underwear on mannequins, use models instead. No isolation, no backside insertion, no symmetry or volume issues, no problems with transparency – everything is perfect.

Easy isolation, no backside insertion

But some companies prefer using other ways to make their main page consistent. Not all the online-stores would agree to have a mix-up of models and mannequins together on one page. They would choose consistency instead, when every item appears as it is, on a white background. In this case, you'll have to deal with mannequins and flat lays. In case it's unavoidable, I'd vote for transparent mannequins being used for all sorts of shaping underwear like dresses, bodysuits, and shorts.

You can't really use flat lays with shapeless items that have to be put on a body to look natural. Items like this look much better when shot on a transparent mannequin. The fact that the garment is transparent is evident, and you don't have to remove plastic from under a mesh.

Use transparent mannequins for transparent stuff to avoid plastic see-through issues. Don't insert any backside in panties or it will look weird. Make sure the crotch area is not wrinkled. And remember that most bras and panties look better as flat lays. We'll get to that in the next section of the course.

Next chapter: Flat lays


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