Anything Photoshop or Photography

Trying Out Topaz Star Effects



The above was actually the first image I tried using the new Star Effect plug-in from Topaz – I thought is makes the tree look like it is flowering. The plug-in is a little different than any other ones they offer since it is sold separately from the bundle and it does a very specific effect. (See my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar for website link.) I beta tested this plug-in before its release so here so are a few tips I learned from using the filter and Topaz’s great Webinars. Topaz suggests this plug-in looks really nice applied to water, candles, city lights at night, dewdrops on flowers, jewelry, Christmas lights, and sunsets to mention a few ideas. This image was first taken into Topaz Simplify and a Paint Colorful preset applied with some adjustments. Next it was taken into Dynamic Auto-Painter program and an Aquarell effect was run. Finally Star Effects was applied back in Photoshop where a Traditional Star was applied using one of their presets.

Star Effects Things To Know:

  • Most important thing to understand is that you cannot add stars using the Add brush where you want on an image – if there is not enough light to support the spot where you want the light to appear, it will not let you paint one in that place. However you can remove stars using the Remove brush where the program placed them in areas you do not want them to appear. This is important to know or else nothing makes sense in this plug-in.
  • The program places up to 300 stars in the brightest parts of an image.  Anything above that amount over this will not be enhanced. This is important if you have a sky image with a lot of points of light but only a few are being picked up by the program. The work-around is to segment you image in Photoshop and select different parts to apply the effect to individually. They say the effect is layer dependent so this works.
  • In Main Adjustments settings, must have a setting below 1 in the Threshold slider, above 0 on the Luminance slider, and in Additional Effects section a 0 Glow or you will see no changes. (Threshold near 1 is just one point of light, a setting of 0 is the maximum points of light your can have in that image.) Spread is how thick your star gets – works with Luminance.)
  • For a smooth glow to use on water, set Threshold to 0 and Luminance to 0 and paint in a star; then set Glow fairly strong in the Additional Effects section. Be sure to set your Saturation (Saturation set to 0 is white light but as you move it right, it picks up the color from that part of the image so it could be magenta instead of yellow) and Temperature (move to left is cooler colors and right warmer colors) in the Color Adjustments to get a stronger effect. Also try adjusting the Size and Spread to get the final effect.
  • Be sure to create presets (identify them as yours with your initials or some other way) so that you can repeat the effect again once you find one you like. Rarely is a preset set up exactly as you need for your image. Topaz says you will probably have to set Threshold and Size with every preset.
  • To find out where some of the stars effects are hiding in your image, go to the Star Settings and select Stars Only. I find it very handy to delete the obvious misplaced effects from here with the Remove brush. Sometimes you have to click the Remove brush several times as the stars get stacked easily if the spot is a really hot spot in your image. You can also save image with the just the stars showing on a black background as shown in the Stars Only mode.
  • You can remove all the spots in a bright area and then use the Add brush to place the star exactly where you want it – this is particularly handy with a sunset or sunrise image where you want to enhance the sun effect or on candle flames. Even if the Threshold is set to 1, any stars you have set will appear. Also, if the area you are adding stars is not real bright, it will only set a small star, but if area is really bright, then you will get a larger brighter star.
  • You do not have to start out with a preset, just select a type of star you like and use the Add brush to place them – note it must be a bright spot for it to stick. It was noted that the Hollywood Star type is good for sun bursts look in sunsets or between trees.



I did not really want to do a Christmas image but I had trouble finding anything with little lights to use, so here it is. I wanted to try two different types of stars applications, so in this image, first a Jewel Sparkle I preset using a Burst Star Type was applied and then adjustments were made. I removed all star effects from the top star area. Next the Sun Flare III preset was applied to just some of the lights to make them stand out more. The Star Type was Traditional and it had more Saturation and Spread than the first stars applied. Once again the star effect was removed from the top star. The last step in the plug-in involved just adding the star effect to the top star. This time I used a Dew Drops I preset as a starting point and added just enough stars to get the top one filled. Then went in the Stars Settings -> Stars Only and removed any points of light that are not in the the top star only. Finally the other sliders were adjusted to get a nice star light feel. Three textures were then added to this image afterwards to get this effect: ShadowHouse Creations Oil Painting-4, Florabella’s Snow 3 (the link is to her Facebook page with the free download on the left side), and OnOne PhotoFrame toner scratch 20 (see my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar for website link.) . The Sharpen Tool was used to oversharpened to exaggerate the detail and color in the star.
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This reminds me of Disney World during the fireworks! Actually it is just a little fountain in our neighborhood. I just wanted to show how fun this effect can be and how pretty the water glow effect is. (See in list above how to do this.) There is not much to say except how did I get the points of light in the sky? Easy, I set up a star scatter brush using the soft brush set to 30 pixels and spacing 1000%. In the Scatter dialog, set the Jitter to 1000% both axis and the Jitter Count to 100. I saved the settings to use the brush again. Just clicked on the sky a couple times and then took it into Star Effects. From there you can use the Remove brush to take them away from areas you don’t want it in. Pretty easy.
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An oldie but goodie image from the London Eye is like one Topaz uses to show the City Lights preset effect. It does not look like much but when compared to the original, it is a lot more luminous. Even the sky looks better with a little luminosity in it. Topaz says that the City Light presets can be adjusted to remove the actual stars by setting the Threshold and Luminance to 0, set Glow to a level you like to get a nice glow in the city. For my image the Glow was set to 0.19, Saturation to 0.56, Temperature 0.40, Size of 0.37 and Spread of 0.21. I felt like this gave a very natural look. This image could also have had two different sets of lights applied, one for the city lights and one for the sky.

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Topaz has a good User Manual when you download the trial and are offering several more Webinars which is a great way to learn the program. I am not sure this plug-in will be of great use to all Photoshop users, but definitely it makes a great addition if you enjoy the creative aspect of Photoshop. There are so many different looks, and as you can see some are quite realistic looking while others are just for fun. I had a bit of difficulty finding images I have taken that look good with this filter. Several just did not work out. I believe for me to make this plug-in really useful, I need to play more with the controls and see what results I can get. By adding textures after using the effect and creating skies before going into the plug-in will expand the use for me personally. The more I am using it, the more applications I am finding for it.

I have to give Topaz credit for trying a totally different concept from what they usually do. If it does not work on all your images, you won’t feel bad since the price is very reasonable and all upgrades will be free once purchased. That said, it is going to take me some more time before I will really know if it is a plug-in I will use a lot. I will write after I learn more about the effects. Until then, give it a try – it might just be the inspiration you need to get that really great look!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Combining Plug-ins for More Image Interest

3 responses

  1. Pingback: » Combining Plug-ins for More Image Interest Digital Lady Syd's Tidbits Blog

  2. Pingback: » Creating Your Own Art (and Cards) While You Are At It! Digital Lady Syd's Tidbits Blog

  3. Pingback: » Topaz Star Effects on a Nature Scene Digital Lady Syd's Tidbits Blog

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