Most people like art of some kind or other – watercolours, oils, abstract, line drawing; the list goes on and on. But not all of us can paint, though I do believe anyone can draw! Often the artistic-side of us gets minimised at school as we get older – the focus is more on “practical” subjects. I think that’s a real shame and stems from a misunderstanding of how important creativity and art is to each of us.
Well, thanks to the digital photograph you can tap into your long forgotten arty side! Anyone can be an artist! I use a few cool tools to help me create digital art, the main ones being; Snap Art, Topaz Simplify and Filter Forge. Of course the glue that brings everything together is Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements). I’m going to focus on the least expensive one out of these three – Topaz Simplify (TS). TS comes as part of a suite of plugins from Topaz Labs, these you can buy either individually or as part of the complete package. I’m pretty sure that once you have tried a few you will end-up wanting them all!
Anyway for now, I’ll just give you a quick tour of Simplify and show you want can be done on even the most basic of images. Download a trial here and once its installed it will be available from your plugins menu (under Filters in Photoshop). Just to show that it works well on any photo, I’ve picked one I took with my iPhone. Here it is unedited:
Not to bad out of the can! Lets see what we can create in Simplify…
When the plug-in starts you will get three areas displayed; on the left are some quick and easy presets, with a preview of what the changes will look like. The middle section is your image with either before or after (preview). I like the full-screen version you can see here but you can also see a split view if you prefer. The right-hand side is where you can alter low-level controls; these can work globally or locally (as you paint in the changes you want).
On this photo I settled on the Oil Painting preset and painted-out some of the effect in the foreground using the Local Adjustments window. I did this, as I wanted some more detail back into the rocks. Here is a close-up of the window:
Here is the final result – achieved in just a few minutes!
Download the trial and have a go on a few of your photos. If you do decide to buy it use the coupon code “stewartbaird” to get a nice 15% discount!
Finally, remember to post your final results to the Topaz group on Flickr for everyone to see. You can find it here.
Here’s one more photo I updated with Topaz Simplify, making a more graphic or cartoon look: