HOW TO COMBINE ALL THOSE TOPAZ PLUG-INS FOR AN ARTSY LOOK!
Since a lot of people would like to get a painterly look on some of their images, but not go to the expense of getting Corel Painter or feel they do not have the painting skills needed to get a nice result, I have decided to show you what can be done with just a few Topaz plug-ins and Nik Viveza 2. I am going to go through the different steps and how the layers appeared to get the above result. You may not have all the plug-ins used, but often there are ways to get the same feel without using the plug-in by just taking a few extra steps.
The image above was cropped as a last step, so the workflow follows the original sized image.
1. First need to download the image from Free Images (used to be Stock.Xchng and image is linked). They have several different shots using this basic site so feel free to explore this great website. See original image on left below.
2. The original image was not in a color scheme that I liked so the first thing done was to change the settings in the Camera Raw filter to get some colors more suitable to my liking. On a duplicate layer that was converted to a Smart Object so it can be edited if something looks wrong, changes were made. (These settings were changed: Temperature +15, Exposure +0.40, Contrast +12, Highlights -19, Shadows +11, Whites +5 and Blacks -12; then adjust in this order Hue Reds +11, Oranges +41, Greens -33, Aquas -62, and Blues +20; Luminance Reds +6, Oranges -34, Yellows +51, Greens +2, Aquas +1, and Blues -7; and Saturation Reds -29, Oranges +10, Yellows, +58, Aquas -26, and Blues +23.) Results are shown in right image below.
3. Next step takes the right image into the Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle plug-in where the Cool and Clear preset was applied first. (These settings were used: ReStyle Opacity 78%, Lum Third 0.34 and Fifth 0.45; Basic Opacity 81%, Color Temp 0.13, Tint -0.16, and Sat 0.33; Tone Black Level 0.27, Midtones 0.34, and White Live -0.03; and Detail Structure 0.64 and Sharpness 0.59. Wanted the water to have more blue tones and overall a little less beige look.) If you do not have the plug-in, try using the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer or Selective Color Adjustment Layer to get somewhat of a similar look. I consider ReStyle to be a very unique plug-in and it is one of my favorite Photoshop plug-ins. I kind of liked the blown-out feel in this layer as shown on the left below.
4. Now it was time to go into Topaz’s newest plug-in, Impression. Started with the Abstraction I preset. (These are the settings used: Stroke Brush Type 04; Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 0.26, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Hue 0.15, Overall Saturation -0.20, and Overall Lightness 0.06; Red Saturation 0.47 and Red Lightness 0.14; Orange Saturation -60 and Orange Lightness -42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Yellow Lightness 0.13; Green Saturation -0.20 and Green Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04 and Contrast 0.39 – X 0.33 and y 0.06; Texture Strength 0.78, Size .30, Canvas IV and Background Color #d38967, a light orange color.) I can honestly say this does not really look that great but it has the stroke effects that make this plug-in’s effects so great. By adjusting the Stroke Width and Length, you can get a fairly good approximation of having actually painted the effect into the image. I believe there are other art programs that could be used for this step like Alien Skin’s Snap Art or Dynamic Auto-Painter, but it has been my experience that they will result in a very different result, not particularly bad, just different.
5. The sky color was painted in with a sampled color from the water and using just a basic brush – this was one of my basic Photoshop pastel brushes. You can always clone some of the strokes from the water into the sky to get a nice stroke replica effect. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add contrast back in the image – adding filters and textures often causes a contrast loss. (The settings were Black tab 7, Middle tab 0.89, and White tab 254.) Looking better now.
A texture layer from Painted Textures was added to image called Green Lake (set to Hard Light blend mode at 33% layer opacity). A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was added to try to reduce the strong color shift from the blue-green-yellow texture (settings were: Highlights Magenta/Green -13 and Yellow/Blue +16, Midtones Cyan/Red +13 and Yellow/Blue -3, and Shadows Magenta/Green -3 and Yellow/Blue +10). See left image below.
6. Thought I would try to get it this image to look like my previously painted Corel Painterversion of this image (see my Venetian Dreaming….). Therefore Topaz ReStyle was opened once again and this time the Cream and Plum preset was used (one of my favorite presets). (Settings were Cream and Plum preset to start – ReStyle Color Style Sat Fifth -0.53; and Lum Primary 0.13, Secondary -0.19, Fourth -0.42, and Fifth -0.44; Texture Strength -1.00; Basic blend mode Color; Color Temperature 0.36, Tint -0.41, and Sat -0.06; Tone Black Level 0.16, Midtones -0.34 and White Level 0.42; and Detail Structure -1.00 and Sharpness 0.19.) As you can see on the right image below, a much more beige palette was introduced.
7. Added a White Color Fill Layer set to Color Blend Mode at 64% layer opacity and filled the mask with black (CTRL+I in mask to invert). Painted back at 30% brush opacity some of the areas that needed some white color but looked beige – mainly on the boat, bridge, sky and in some of the water reflection. Then Nik’s Viveza 2 plug-in was used to help emphasize the focal point, the boat and bridge in the image. 7 control points were added – sharpening and color increased around the boat and bridge area, and the Structure slider was decreased on the painted areas to give more of an actual painterly look. It did help smooth the sky quite a bit. See image on bottom left.
8. Now how did I get the image on the bottom right? Well, a Topaz plug-in I had not used in quite a while. I really liked the tones in the Corel Painter image done in my Tidbits Blog and the best way to get those tones into my image is to use Topaz photoFXlab’s InstaTone. By opening the plug-in and starting InstaTone, the Painter image’s folder was selected and the tones were added directly my Topaz layer. Totally loved the final look! What is so great about this plug-in is that the same brushes from several of their other plug-ins are available and can be used on masks within the plug-in. Therefore Detail, Smoothing, Dodging and de-Saturating could all be done on one mask. Basically the image can be sculpted to get a pretty artsy look without really painting at all. (Here are the settings used: On duplicate layer in photoFXlab, applied the original image from Corel Painter tones using InStaTone. In Adjustments Blending Mode to Color, Contrast to -100, Dynamics 27, Highlights 31, Shadows 11 and Blacks -18. On a From Stack layer on top, went to Brushes and set Smooth/Detail Strength to 0.49, Brush Size 0.09, Hardness 0.22, Flow 1.00 and Edge Aware 0.98 to add Detail to the boat and bridge, my focal point. Next changed Strength of brush -0.81 to smooth and painted over all the buildings which gave a very subtle softening to the edges of the windows and roof lines. Next selected the Burn/Dodge brush – wanted to dodge a little lightening into the distracting windows. Set Strength to 0.18 and Brush Size to 0.02 and with a very soft stroke, paint on the strong black lines and edges of windows to just slightly soften the distracting lines. If you mess, use the Undo Arrow up at the top of image. This gives a really painterly feel to the image. Set Saturation to -0.68 and painted out the overly bright little turquoise boat in front of the main boat by setting Strength to -0.68.) For more on this plug-in, see Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs below. Hope I did not lose everyone on this one! I have talked about using these brushes in other Topaz plug-ins so there is no reason they cannot be used for a similar result.
The last step involved just cropping in Photoshop to get the top image – still not sure if I like the cropped or uncropped version best or whether I like the more beige color tones. That what makes it interesting!
I just wanted to show everyone that some really great results can be created just by stacking plug-ins and masking and adding Adjustment Layers in Photoshop to get some pretty fantastic results. This was a lot of fun to experiment this way – I am finding I do not have to paint in just one way. And knowing me, this is all going to get mixed up into the painting style I have been trying to develop this year. Wanted to give some basic guidance on the settings for these plug-ins since it can get confusing as how to actually use all the plug-in sliders. Until next week, keep trying some new combinations!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle
Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression
Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz photoFXlab v1.1
InstaTone in photoFXlabs – Great Fun and Great Results!
How Topaz Black & White Effects Can Create Some Surprising Results! – Check out the Settings for Images 2 and 3 at bottom for info on its mask brushes