Topaz Labs make some of the coolest and easiest to use plugins out there for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. In fact using their Fusion product you don’t even need Photoshop to use them directly from within either Lightoom or Aperture. Of course doing this won’t give you the added benefit of layering effects together.
In this demo I’m going to focus on three Topaz plugins:
•Topaz Adjust – used to create dynamic exposure and colour effects
•Topaz Clean – used to create interesting edge effects and stylized images
•Topaz Simplify – use to create painting type effects, simplifying detail and colours
Usually when I use a plugin I will mask-in or paint-in only the parts I want; I don’t simply pick an effect and “click and go”. However to keep these examples straightforward I will do exactly that. I want to show you how you can take an ordinary or boring photo and breathe new life into it. You never know what magic is lying under that dusty old photo!
Below is the sample image I’m going to work with. It is taken using a basic point and shoot camera, while I was in Chennai, India. Out of the can I think its pretty uninspiring:
Lets see what we can do with it using these Topaz plugins. Inside of Photoshop I duplicated the base layer and then launched Topaz Adjust from the Filter menu. You’ll notice down the side a series of presets; in this example I chose my favourite one; “Spicify” and the clicked Ok. Right away it looks better:
Sometimes Topaz Adjust introduces extra noise so I went ahead and selected “Use DeNoise” to help clean that noise up. (DeNoiseis an extra plugin from Topaz and its worth looking at to help with any kind of noise reduction).
Next I’ll try Topaz Clean on the image. Again I duplicated another layer from the background layer and then opened-up Topaz Clean on it. Clean works mainly on the edges of shapes to either stylize or flatten. Stylizing the edges works really well on any image that contains foliage, trees and grass. I selected the “Stylize” preset on my image and clicked Ok. By the way depending on the size of your image wont see much change unless you’re at 100% or you’ve printed it out. Here’s what it looked like after the Topaz Clean treatment:
Pretty cool, huh?
Topaz Simplify is the last plugin I’ll cover here and it is kind of opposite to Clean in that it removes detail. This has the effect of making the resulting image look like a painting or cartoon. Personally, I use it in conjunction with the Art History brush in Photoshop, slowly building-up the image to emulate a painting. Have a look here for an example of how I did that. Anyway, this is what the “llll” preset did for me:
Finally, to illustrate a more realistic workflow, I took the Clean and Adjust layers and blended them together (using Normal at 75%).
Here is the final result:
Download the plugins and have a play for yourself! I started with Topaz Adjust and slowly added each one; in hindsight the package deal would have been better. Don’t make the same mistake! My advice is that if you think you’ll get 3 plugins for sure, then just go ahead and buy the complete package.
Remember to use the code “stewartbaird” at the checkout to get 15% of Topaz Labs plugins!