How to Photograph a T-Shirt with a Ghost Mannequin

Join us to learn how to photograph a t-shirt with a ghost mannequin effect for authentic, true-to-life images that maintain focus strongly on the product.

Ghost Mannequin Fashion Photography: Photographing T-Shirts

In this post, we’ll help you learn how to photograph a t-shirt on a ghost mannequin. T-shirts are often a staple product in any fashion retail. However, getting the best photographs of t-shirts requires some special techniques with lighting setups, cameras, and post production.

With flat lay product photography, shirts tend to lose their appeal. Results come out looking a little flat and often out of proportion. The ghost mannequin effect, on the other hand, provides a way to remove the model or mannequin in post production. 

This creates a “hollow man effect”, as if an invisible person were wearing the photographed clothing. To achieve this, we take multiple photos of a t-shirt on a mannequin or model, and then combine the images to remove the model or mannequin in post processing.  

In this way, the results are lifelike product photos of t-shirts that keep the focus firmly on the product. T-shirts look more 3-dimensional, rounded and overall more presentable for online fashion retail. 

Continue reading to learn how to photograph a t-shirt with a ghost mannequin effect and discover PhotoRobot solutions.

How to achieve a ghost mannequin effect with t-shirts

Ready to get started? Let’s look at what goes into creating the ghost mannequin effect for fashion product photography. 

The quick mounting system of PhotoRobot’s Cube supports the connection of various size mannequins for clothing photography.

Unlike other software image editing techniques, using a ghost mannequin makes the photographed t-shirt appear to be worn by an invisible person. We accomplish this by removing the arm and chest pieces so that the mannequin is not visible in the final image.

Using a ghost mannequin can amount to dramatic savings in content production costs. With PhotoRobot’s_Cube and our mannequins designed for quick-exchange, the savings in effort and costs are even more remarkable.

What other photography equipment and software do we need? Let’s run through the list now.

Equipment and software for the ghost mannequin effect

The traditional PhotoRobot setup for the ghost mannequin effect on t-shirts revolves around the CUBE. This is thanks to its system for quick mannequin exchange, coupled with PhotoRobot automation software for streamlining post processing.

Removing a mannequin from photos using post-processing tools gives fashion products a more realistic 3D appearance.

Use PhotoRobot’s Chromakey to automatically remove mannequin poles from final images, combine photos, and achieve the perfect ghost mannequin effect every time.

Additional photo studio equipment

As for other fashion photography equipment, you’ll need the following.

  • Camera — PhotoRobot supports both Canon and Nikon, with high-end models recommended for professional product photography.
  • Lighting Setup — Our systems work with both strobe lighting or LED panel lights, using these to create the ideal lighting from all angles.
  • A ghost mannequin — In this case, we use our quick-exchange mannequins, allowing us to prepare a separate torso off to the side while simultaneously taking photos of t-shirts ready for photographing.
  • Styling accessories — Use a combination of clips and pins to ensure the tee has a more fitted appearance.
  • T Shirt — No matter how intricate the design of the tee, even on complicated edges like lace, with PhotoRobot the “invisible person” effect is created flawlessly.

Photographing the t-shirt

Now, let’s run through the process of how to photograph a t-shirt with a ghost mannequin. The entire process for applying the ghost mannequin effect to apparel takes no longer than a matter of minutes. 

The software manages all post-processing and publishing online, with all of these features available as part of PhotoRobot PRESET categories. These presets are a set of commands that let you record and apply settings to all later items based on this style.

Convenient image post-processing presets within PhotoRobot software apply across items of similar photographic properties.

This means that you can focus on the photography, while PhotoRobot handles the majority of the heavy-lifting. The process then becomes routine, no matter if you’re using a regular or an invisible torso. 

1 - Take off the arms and the chest piece of the mannequin

When styling t-shirts to set the scene, the shape of the tee matters most. You want the apparel to look as appealing as if it were fitted perfectly on a live model. It also doesn’t hurt if the mannequin has an athletic build (such as with PhotoRobot’s mannequins for quick exchange).

Preparing a special multi-part mannequin to photograph a t-shirt begins first by removing the arm and chest pieces.

Beyond this, all you need to do is take off the removable pieces of the mannequin, and you’re now ready to dress it up.

2 - Dress your mannequin to impress

Next, simply pull your t-shirt down over the head of the mannequin, just as you would when dressing yourself.

Pull the shirt tight onto the mannequin while paying attention to the neck and sleeve areas of the garment.

Now, the mannequin is ready for styling. Just remember to replace the arm and shoulder pieces before getting started.

3 - Style the t-shirt

From here, you want to make sure the arms and shoulders of the shirt are styled and ready for photography.

Straighten out the fabric on the mannequin to best fit its shape and to appear as if an invisible model is wearing the item.

Ensure there is no fabric pinched under the shoulders, and that both are aligned perfectly. 

4 - Pull the shirt tight

Finally, pull the material taut over the mannequin, just like you see in the example below.

Ensure the hem of the shirt is even and pulled tightly down to remove any creases or wrinkles in the material.

Be sure you remove any creases that might distract away from the shirt’s design, and that it looks flawless for the photoshoot.

5 - Lights, Camera, Action

And that’s it. Now you’re ready to photograph the t-shirt with the magic of PhotoRobot. This process is also straightforward and becomes routine on any torso.

  • Capture given angles (using predefined positions).
  • Separate the background on all images.
  • Retouch the pole of the standing torso using PhotoRobot’s manual or automated Chromakey retouch feature to create a ghost mannequin effect.
  • Set the lighting according to the product.
  • Control the process to deliver ready-made t-shirt images to the client or to publish directly online. 

The Results

The arms are invisible in post-production, and directional lighting creates extra shadowing to make the item more attractive.

Notice how we’ve made the arms invisible in post production. Directional lighting also provides us with extra shadowing to make the shirt look more appealing.

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