Fashion Photography of a Cardigan on a Ghost Mannequin

In this tutorial, learn how to photograph a cardigan sweater on a ghost mannequin using PhotoRobot’s Cube and control software.

How to Photograph a Cardigan on a Ghost Mannequin

Continuing our product photography tutorial series, today we demonstrate how to photograph a cardigan on a ghost mannequin. These special mannequins have removable pieces so you can photograph clothes as if an invisible model is wearing them.

Using a ghost mannequin, you can achieve a more true-to-life, 3D effect on cardigans and other fashion products. Also known as a “hollow man” effect, this technique requires the right equipment, some styling, and a few special tricks.

Thankfully, PhotoRobot makes it so that even amateur photographers can master the ghost mannequin effect in no time. Using the_Cube, a ghost mannequin, and PhotoRobot software, our setup simplifies and streamlines workflows.

Ready to see how for yourself? This product photography tutorial will guide you through the process. Learn how to photograph a cardigan on a ghost mannequin, including what cameras, lighting, and photography equipment to use.

PhotoRobot Equipment and Software

At the very core of our setup is the_Cube, a robot that can quickly transform into a rotating mannequin. This fashion photography solution includes a system for quick mannequin exchange. The design enables us to streamline workflow and photograph a long line of fashion and apparel in a single session.

Quick-exchange mannequin beside carrying case.

Meanwhile, our editing software dramatically reduces time for post production and time-to-web. Save and automate style guides, and deploy Chromakey for automatic pole removal, compositing photos, and achieving the ghost mannequin effect.

Additional Photography Equipment

Other necessary equipment to create the ghost mannequin photography effect in the studio includes the following.

  • Camera - For professional results, we always recommend high-end Canon or Nikon cameras, both of which are supported by our systems.
  • Studio lighting - For lighting, PhotoRobot combines strobe lighting and LED panels to reach the ideal exposure, shadows, and contrast from all angles.
  • Ghost mannequin torso - For a cardigan, we use only the mannequin torso. If photographing many pieces of fashion, you can also use multiple mannequins. Each can be quickly exchanged on and off of the_Cube. This way we can photograph and style mannequins simultaneously for higher volume photoshoots.
  • A cardigan sweater - Today, we’re photographing a women’s cardigan sweater. For similar style sweaters with an opening at the front, the process will be the same.
  • Styling accessories - This photoshoot calls for some double-sided tape, which we use to hold the cardigan’s fabric in place to the mannequin.

How to Style a Cardigan on a Ghost Mannequin

1 - Pull the sleeves over the arms of the mannequin

In the first step, we simply need to dress our ghost mannequin in the cardigan. Pull the sleeves over the arms, just as you would dressing yourself.

Don’t worry about buttoning up the opening at the front of the sweater yet. Instead, focus on styling the cardigan’s shoulders so that they are neat and even.

Photographer dressing mannequin in cardigan.

2 - Use tape to hold the cardigan to the mannequin

Next, we need to style the opening at the front of the garment. This is where draped cardigans often hang loosely and open off the mannequin.

To counter this, we suggest using double-sided tape to hold both sides of the cardigan in place. Use tape on both sides of the upper chest, and also near the hem at the bottom.

Both sides should be symmetrical, hanging parallel and with the sleeves level. Ensure the gap in the front has a nice even opening the entire way down.

Close-up using styling tape.

3 - Style the sleeves just as we would wear the garment

Now, we need to style the sleeves according to the style of the garment. This helps shoppers to your online fashion store to better visualize themselves wearing the product.

Here, when bunching the sleeves up or rolling them down, ensure the wrists remain level on the mannequin.

Photo of pulling sleeves down mannequin arms.

Photographing the Ghost Mannequin Effect

1 - Photograph the Frontside of the Cardigan

With our mannequin dressed, we can photograph the front of the cardigan. All we need to do is move to the control station to start the sequence.

  • Take photos of given angles (here using predefined positions).
  • Separate the background on all images.
  • Retouch the pole of the torso using manual or automated Chromakey retouch.
  • Set the lighting to the product for consistent exposure, shadows, and contrast.
  • Control the process to capture images for compositing and post processing.

Two photos showing styling clip usage.

2 - Flip the cardigan inside-out on the mannequin’s backside

But what about the visible mannequin in the photo? Later, to fill the gap in the front of the cardigan, we take additional photos of the garment inside-out. We then use these photos to composite images for the ghost mannequin effect.

For this step, take the cardigan off the mannequin and rotate it so that its back is facing to the front. Now put the cardigan on again, inside-out, and photograph the area we need to fill in the gap at the front of the sweater.

Pay careful attention that you photograph the cardigan from the same distance you used in previous steps. If you zoom in or out more than in the first photoset, your composite photos won’t match.

Invisible mannequin effect on front of cardigan.

3 - Edit to Composite Photos

Finally, we are ready to create our ghost mannequin effect on the cardigan. Here, Erik is able to do this by using his own editing software to composite the photos.

We remove the large gap where the mannequin is visible, layering it with photos of the inside of the cardigan. This provides a clear, proportional view of the tag and neck area, creating our “hollow person” effect.

Now, if you aren’t using your own editing software for this part, you might consider hiring out a retouching agency. In fact, PhotoRobot has several we’re in contact with, all who offer services at very reasonable prices.

In the end, whether you do it manually or hire an external editor, the results come out impressive for any garments.

Cardigan flipped inside-out on mannequin.

View PhotoRobot’s Final Results for Yourself

Final photos of cardigan, front and back.

Discover More Tutorials, Techniques, and Resources

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