AI Scent to Impress: Product Shots for High-End Fragrances

James Dow

Rethinking Advertising: Fragrance

Visuals for high-end products demand meticulous attention to detail and sophistication - and inevitably, with that kind of quality, your production costs are going to be pretty high. Among the most costly and difficult shoots, sits the fragrance category.

When you’re trying to capture something as elusive as a scent, you’re forced to rely on setting a particular scene, using expensive materials, and setting up elegant lighting. You’re essentially trying to make your shots as far from plain as possible. The background and lighting you use is the best way of conveying the kind of scent you’re selling: moody lighting for a rich and deep scent, bright whites and yellows for something more summery.

Every shadow, hue and angle of light impacts the audience’s impression of the fragrance. It’s about setting a scene that creates intrigue. And achieving that intrigue in a premium yet subtle way isn’t easy. If high-end fragrance shots can be achieved using AI, then it’s a gamechanger. 

The Creative Challenge

While GenAI saves time and resources for simple shoots, can it take on imagery for something as ethereal as a fragrance?

We've put Pencil AI to the test, tasking it with creating studio-grade visuals for fragrances. In the realm of high-end fragrances, imagery isn't just about showcasing a product, it's about creating an immersive world. It requires setting a scene, conveying an ambience, giving a sense of what you might feel when you wear the fragrance. It’s difficult to describe a scent, let alone capture its essence in an image.

We wanted to see if GenAI could convey the luxurious feel of a fragrance, from the detail of the glass bottle to a background worthy of high-end perfume.

The Outcome

With the right prompt - and a dose of creative thinking from the prompt writer - we were able to produce a variety of product shots fit for luxury fragrances.

When you see the images, you instantly get a sense of the sort of fragrance you’re looking at - the leaves and blossoms signify botanical, fresh scents. The Monstera leaves, which have become emblematic of Instagram-chic, are evocative of earthy, rainforest smells but with a touch of luxury. Without AI, you’d struggle to get leaves that were suitable, with the perfect sheen, the right size, and without any blemishes.

You’d be in a similar position finding the right blossoms and lemon. But here, the AI has been able to capture the right amount of detail in the lemon’s rind and segments, as with the blossom, where you see a mix of detail and bokeh. With a studio shoot, you’d not only struggle to find props without blemishes, you’d also be forced into using strings and tricks to get the right placement of every leaf and petal. Most likely, you’d be faced with a mountain of touch ups in post production - and that’s before you even start thinking about reflections in the glass.

The AI was able to go beyond nature-focused shots to produce luxurious-feeling backgrounds, from a traditional silk backdrop to a more complex scene set in water. The water shot proves how valuable it is to be able to quickly test ideas, as it’s the sort of unconventional creative that seems to have potential when workshopping ideas, but could fall down at the shoot stage. With GenAI, you’re able to test the idea without putting a ton of upfront time and money into the idea.

With a more traditional silk background, it’s all about clever lighting. It’s the folds and shadows across the silk that give the image depth and drama. That’s how luxury is created. And up until recently, it cost a fortune.

The Methodology

The images you see were created by James Dow (Creative Director, Brandtech Consulting). Here’s how he did it:

1. Prompts

  • A still-life beauty photograph for a fragrance. thin elegant smoked-glass bottle. flat-lay angle top-down. very large jungle foliage fills the composition. volumetric lighting. 8k. lit from front.
  • A still-life beauty photograph for a fragrance. glass ridged bottle hanging in chiffon fabric. soft backlight. rich colour. luxury materials and textures. volumetric lighting. 8k. gradient backdrop gold and orange.
  • A still-life beauty photograph for a fragrance. delicate round glass bottle arranged around slices of lemon and delicate flowers. low-angle shot. volumetric lighting. 8k. lit from front.
  • A still-life beauty photograph for a fragrance. angular rectangle glass bottle tilted on its edge on water. soft ripples come from the bottle. cool colour. luxury materials and textures. volumetric lighting. 8k. gradient backdrop white and ice blue

2. Upscaling

Finally, we upscale all the preferred images using Magnific AI on the following settings:

  • Creativity 1
  • HD 5
  • Resemblance -1

The Conclusion

With careful prompting, Pencil’s AI was able to produce fragrance shots fit for OOH or premium magazine inserts. Importantly, the AI was able to produce four very different feels to each shot, dependent on the essence of each fragrance. It’s clear that GenAI is capable of achieving the detail needed for high-end fragrance shots - from realistic glass to shadows against silk.

It’s true that the backgrounds and props are important parts of conveying a fragrance, but you’ll note that the product is always the hero of the shot. Even among sensual florals and plush silk, the fragrance itself never gets lost. These are product shots at their best.