Swaddle Pattern Swap

The Task

With the whole Studio Photography business effectively shut down this spring, my clients need creative ways to show this season’s designs on models. A garment pattern swap onto existing talent photographs solves the problem neatly.

Before Pattern SwapAfter Pattern Swap
Before / After

The Execution

Prepare the source image

Try to find a source image that has a subtle pattern, even better to find one in a solid color. Sometimes you can’t avoid starting with a patterned image, now is the time to remove it:

Before Pattern SwapMid Pattern Swap
Left Original Pattern/Right Pattern Removed

The edit doesn’t need to be perfect. You are done when the garment is smooth, without discernable pattern remnants. Some residual color tinting won’t spoil the result.

Use Frequency Separation techniques to separate the highlight & shadow created by folds and curves of the garment & model from the texture of the fabric and stitching. The key to making this edit look great is being able to manipulate these different components independently.

Prepare Donor Pattern/Color Image

Next you need a donor image with a pattern/color sample. Laydown photography is still a thing, with its minimal crew requirements. Here is an example from this project:

Pattern Donor Image
Pattern Donor Image

Complete the Swap

Place this pattern/color image over the de-patterned source image. Scale, warp, liquefy, blur and/or add noise to match the source scene. Wrap the pattern donor image around the model and folds of the source garment. Sell the realism by blending all the above work into the source image. This is where it pays off to use all the advanced blending techniques you can think of. Your pattern donor is now toned and textured by the image layers created in the Frequency Separation process.

Mid Pattern SwapAfter Pattern Swap
Left De-patterned Source/Right Finished Photocomposition

The Payoff

Doing a bad job of this is easy. We’ve all seen bad examples of pattern swaps on questionable Amazon product posts. Here is some client feedback on this project:

Client: Our head of sales, who deals with the CEO personally, loved the images and couldn’t even tell they were retouched. Thank you again. 😊

Me: Awesome, I love the feedback! A retoucher’s best work is the work that isn’t noticed.

Before Pattern SwapAfter Pattern Swap
Before / After