Anything Photoshop or Photography


Image of statues at Westminster Abbey, London, EnglandThis week I decided to share a few tips and tricks I have learned about the Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) software since they have had a bunch of absolutely fabulous Webinars in the past few weeks. I have learned so much about so many of the filters and thought I would pass along some of the new things I learned. Believe me, this just scratches the surface of what is shown in the the webinars, so do check them out. The statues above (I do not know who they represent) are from the front of Westminster Abbey and Topaz Studio’s AI ReMix was used to get the interesting color effects. (See end of blog for more Image 1 details if you are interested.)

  • Many of the Topaz experts are going into Studio, running IA Clear, then go into Topaz Adjust plugin from inside the interface – Joel Wolfson calls it the magic exposure balancer. This is a really fantastic effect. Reset the filter by clicking the button on the bottom right. The Adaptive Exposure slider adjusts exposure without losing the shadows and highlights. Set the Adaptive Exposure slider to the right with the Regions, which breaks down the image into sections to apply the correct amount of Adaptive Exposure to it, set to 0. Once the Adaptive Exposure looks pretty good, move the Regions slider to the right to get the perfect look. Keep the two settings fairly close to each other. If the Regions is set to 1, it just applies the effect the same to the whole image. To get the best results, keep the numbers pretty close together. Some people like to use the Color Section which works very similarly. The Adaptive Saturation and Color Regions work together the same way. Also, the same Adaptive Exposure and Regions sliders are also in Black & White Effects also.


It always amazes me what I don’t know about certain programs even though I think I understand them very well. I watched several Webinars from Topaz this week and found out a few little gems I will share. These are things that are really simple but major important! Note that Topaz Studio will not open PSD files from Lightroom or ACR, but will take native camera Raw files, TIFF, PNG and JPG. Below are a few things that had always confused me until recently.

  • When you Apply adjustments to an image, it is the same as creating a flattened composite layer in Photoshop which contains all the previous effects and masks. A new iteration shows up in the row at the bottom of the interface with the blue line around the one just created.
  • What to do when you want to keep both iterations of an image, like one in color and one in black and white. Need to save one that will be stacked with the Lightroom images, but the second one must be Saved As (or it will overwrite the one you just did) – Studio will ask where you want to have it saved. Therefore, both iterations will be retained. If used as a plugin from PS, I am not sure how to do this.
  • If you want to retain all the masks and layers in an image, save the image as a .tsp extension – this is a Topaz unique file extension and can be reopened in the Topaz products. It is helpful if you forgot how you did something for a special effect. I use it a lot – just keep it in the file along with the other image files.
  • Did you know that if you click the little plus (+) sign at the bottom of an adjustment to add additional adjustments, it is actually acting like a clipping mask in Photoshop and filters added only affect the one it is attached to. I always wondered about this.

Image of seven turtles talking on a pondJust AI Clear was used on this image above but not much else. For more post-processing info, check Image 2 below.

AI Clear Adjustment

  • It is important that after the settings are selected, the Adjustment needs to be applied or else it will continue to try and reapply the settings every time you make more changes to the image. This had been driving me crazy – love the adjustment but could not get it to stop running. Well, to me that is a huge tip! (Thank you John Barclay!)
  • Important to remember that if using AI Clear, be sure not sharpen first in Lightroom or ACR – it can mess up the results.
  • The Recover Detail slider keeps noise reduced but is working to bring back some of the detail that is lost in the image from the noise reduction. The higher you set this slider, the more blending that occurs. Set to 1.00 is like setting your opacity to 30%. I find that sometimes this works and sometimes not. Same with the Exposure and Clarity sliders – not always helpful.

Image of a digitally painted jaquarThis image is an example of a more abstract effect you can get with the AI ReMix Adjustment. For actual post-processing info, check out Image 3 at end of the blog.

AI ReMix Adjustment

  • Remember changing the blend modes and opacity can do wonderful things to your image. And try adding the filter using a different Style to get different results.
  • Note it is much quicker to set the Style Strength to Low to decide which one you want to use, then switch to the higher resolutions Med or High amounts.

I feel like I have been writing a lot about the Topaz products – it seems they do have the best creative effects and I use them a lot. I will attempt to show you results of some other plug-ins next time. Have a good shopping week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Post-Processing Steps:

Image 1: First in Lightroom the image was cropped and the Transform panel was opened where the Guided lines were added to straighten the image up and make it look more like it at your eye level. This is a really cool tool to use for this. In Basic panel just some changed to Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks. Then from LR, took the image into Topaz Studio where the AI Clear Adjustment was immediately selected and set to Auto Noise and High Sharpen – It was immediately Applied as a new “layer” in the bottom tray (now has a blue line around it). Made sure AI Clear was not still open – if it is close it so it does not keep running. Now selected AI ReMix (set to 0.49 opacity and Color Burn blend mode) and the first Style called A Neon Style at Low Style Strength; Brightness 0.53, Contrast 1.22, Sat 0.77, Hue 0, Smooth Edge 0.17, Sharpness 0.83, Suppress Artifacts 0.49 – Layer mask created using the brush and just selecting the figures. Then HSL Color Tuning Adjustment: Color – Red Sat -0.54 and Lightness -0.25; Orange Sat 0.12 and Lightness 0.28; Green Sat -1.00 and Lightness 0.38; and Aqua Hue -0.86 and Lightness 0.36. Then it was sent back to Lightroom as a stacked Tiff. Next took the image into Photoshop with the Lightroom Changes selected. This is where I tweaked it and made the image very dark with spotlight lighting. Duplicated the layer twice – set one to Multiply blend mode at 59% and top one to Hard Mix at 66% opacity and 9% Fill. This gave the really dark but sharp image. On a couple New Layers painted some color on the faces to lighten them up a bit but kept the layer opacity very low, around 20-30%. Then added a Spotlight Layer using a low flow white brush to direct the eye to the faces. That was basically all that was done – a lot of adjusting the layers in PS had to be done to get the correct color effect, but it was AI ReMix that gave the beautiful colors in the image.

Image 2: Most of the work occurred in Lightroom. Cropping and Basic panel changes occurred. The color of the image was not touched. The background layer was duplicated and Topaz Studio was opened. The AI Clear Adjustment was opened set to Auto for Noise Reduction and High for Sharpening. Back in Photoshop a little spotlight effect was put on the turtle shells and set to Overlay blend mode at 71% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and that was it.

Image 3: This funny Jaguar was busy checking out his house I think. I do not believe much was done with this image. Mainly followed the steps in Greg Rostami’s A.I. Magic with ReMix and Clear Webinar – just used similar settings from his dog image and created a preset to use the settings over – check out my SJ AI ReMix painterly Effect in the public list. After Studio was applied, went back to Photoshop. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the blue color and the color around her body was darkened (used a dark Curves Adjustment layer with a black layer mask – just painted in where it should be darkened). A little spotlight effect on the white area of the neck and Matt K’s vignette was created to finish up. That was it. I left the colors really strong and I think they are gorgeous

4 responses

  1. Ann Mackay

    You provide great information! Love the gorgeous blues and greens of the turtle image. 🙂

    11/25/2018 at 7:02 am

  2. Fantastic color effect in the first image! Also love the color palette in your third image. Great tips and amazing results. Thank you! 🙂

    11/25/2018 at 10:55 am

  3. Thanks for the bunch of information here. Very useful.

    11/28/2018 at 8:55 am

  4. Pingback: WHAT IS GOING ON WITH ALL THE “AI” IN PHOTOGRAPHY SOFTWARE? | Digital Lady Syd's Fun Photoshop Blog

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