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Posts tagged “Topaz Studio

TOPAZ STUDIO – SHOULD I UPGRADE?

Image of colorful bikes at Flagler College Just enjoying a little Topaz Studio and trying to really understand the program. Bike image is from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. (See Image 1 below to see what Topaz Studio adjustments were used to get this effect.) Will be skipping a week of blogging. Several people are very confused and uncomfortable about upgrading. I understand the hesitation since the upgrade into the new Studio interface has not been easy to understand. From the software engineer’s perspective, it has probably been a nightmare since the various plug-ins do very different things and they have to be retooled to work together. Some of the Studio plug-ins have some good updates that really help the program. Others, maybe not so much. I can only say this, even if you update to Topaz Studio, you still have the Topaz Labs filters that are still available and can be used on a layer in PS. I still used them often, mainly for one reason – all my personal presets are still in the Labs plug-ins and Topaz Studio cannot reproduce many of them. With many of my presets I just have not had the time to update them.  Therefore, it is probably okay to upgrade to the free Studio interface since you will still have the Lab versions available. And not only that, if you are in Studio and want to access one of the other plug-ins, just go to the Menu and select Plug-ins – they are all there with their original interface. I find that having the Studio Clarity (the Precision Contrast adjustment) and Detail (the Precision Detail adjustment) available in one location is very handy – together they give some startling sharpness! And oddly enough, the actual Impression Adjustment has some decent beginning settings and the Painting Progress slider gives some very interesting results. If you download the free Topaz Studio (for download link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog), any Topaz plug-ins will be automatically added into the interface. It will look different and some experimentation will need to be done, but there are lots of new options since the different adjustments from the different original plug-ins can be stacked to get even better looks.

List of Topaz Labs plug-ins currently added into Topaz Studio

At this point, here is a list of the filters that are now included in the Studio interface and which filters create the basic filter. If you owned the Topaz Labs filters, all the Studio adjustments filters will show up without buying the Pro Pack extra adjustments. To find the incorporated filters, need to go to the preset pop-out and click on the square icon with three horizontal lines in it. Set the Sort By to Featured. The first preset will indicate the Studio Adjustment workflow for each filter (for example, select Clarity and choose top preset called Clarity Workflow – the two adjustments to create the basic filter will be shown).

Clarity – Studio Adjustments are Precision Contrast and HSL Color Tuning (look at the Topaz Labs version and it is broken down into these two main components). Topaz did bring over my created presets with this filter and they also appear in the My Effects Group.

Detail – Adjustments include Precision Detail, Channel Mixer, and Basic Adjustment. (The Topaz Labs version was broken down into Detail and Tone, the Channel Mixer which is the Cyan-Red, Magenta-Green, and Yellow-Blue sliders, and the Basic Adjustment which basically contains the other Tone and Color sections’ sliders). Several of these I reproduced.

Glow – Adjustments include Glow, HSL Color Tuning, Vignette, and Smudge. (The Topaz Labs version has sections called Primary and Secondary Glow with same sliders that pop out in some cases in Studio, Color which is the same as the HSL Color Tuning, and Finishing Touches which includes the Smudge slider). None of my presets were brought over from the Labs version.

Impression – Only contains the Impression Adjustment. My presets were brought over from Topaz Labs and also appear in My Effects group.

Simplify – Contains Abstraction, Edges, and Quad Tone adjustments. None of my presets came over from Topaz Labs.

Textures – Contains the Basic Adjustment, Edge Exposure, and Quad Tone adjustments. No presets were brought over from Topaz Labs. They have added in new textures from 2 Lil Owls Studio and Hazel Meredith.

Image of Mountains from Unsplash and Jon FlobrantThis image contains exactly the same settings as the image above except a 2 Lil Owls Studio Texture Adjustment was added at the bottom of the stack. (See image below for more information.) Image from Unsplash and Jon Flobrant.

Image of Palm Trees from Castillo de San Marcos fortThis image is of some palm trees taken on the top of the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida – the creative coloring was done in Topaz Studio. I find a lot of the tips for Studio by watching the videos Topaz Labs supplies. Even if you do not like what the presenter is creating, often you can get a couple good ideas for some presets that make for some good results. That is what happened on this one. First a preset that I made from some of the settings in Hazel Meredith’s video called Texture Effects and Topaz Studio that I named SJ Graphic Sketch 1 (it is available in the Community on line) – makes for a very nice black and white image. This was applied and a preset called Cartoon Grid from Topaz that gave the partial colored effect. (See Image 3 below for more information on this image.) I saved it down as a project file .tsp file, but it did not take. So at this point I am not sure this format is really safe to use. Luckily I had noted the settings.

I hope this has helped a few of you decide to try out Studio. It is a pretty nice program overall and it will get better as they add more Topaz Labs plug-ins and new features into it. But it will probably take a while to get it all finished I am sure. In the meantime, parts of it are really good. Have a very good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image 1: This image was first opened in Lightroom and just the Basic Panel was used before opening up in Photoshop. The next step was to duplicate the image and open Topaz Studio. These are the settings that were used: Precision Contrast: used Highlight Dynamic Range in dropdown; Abstraction: Used JWolfson Painting Prep in drop-down (Joel explains how to create this in his Topaz Labs video he did this week – I will add link when it is posted), then changed Simplify Size to 0.24; Impression SJ Colored Pencil preset: changed Stroke Width to -78, Stroke Length to -0.85, and spill -1.00, then set Texture to Solid; and used HSL Color Tuning – changed Orange Sat -0.40, Yellow Sat 0.55, Aqua Sat 0.63, and Blue Sat 0.39 and Lightness 0.13, and Details 0.50; Created Subtle Colored Pencil preset which is posted in the Community presets if you would like to use it. Back in PS, used a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer, Nick Viveza 2 to add a slight vignette in corners, and a Levels Adjustment Layer setting Output levels to 31/255 and regular settings 0/0.76/255 – gives the slight matte feel.

Image 2: The Unsplash image was opened in Topaz Studio stand alone program and used exactly the same steps above except the HSL Color Tuning sliders were used to adjust the colors in this image and a Texture from 2 Lil Owls was added at 28% layer opacity and Luminosity blend mode. It was opened in PS and the same steps as used above were done.

Image 3: Three images were taken into Aurora 2018 HDR from Lightroom to begin post-processing. This gave a really nice sharp image back in LR. It was then taken into PS and the background layer was duplicated. Brought image into STO from PS. First Version Applied Graphic Sketch L and set to Effect Opacity 0.53; Made a few slight changes to Basic Adjustment to Exposure -0.05, Clarity 0.52, Shadow -0.32, Highlight -0.50, Black Level -0.33 and White Level 0.68; Precision Contrast Opacity 0.88 and Multiply blend mode, Micro 0.18, Low 0.20, Medium 0.93, Lighting Shadow -0.31, Midtone 0.37, Highlight 0.47, Medium; Brightness Contrast Opacity 0.44, Brightness 0.29, Contrast 0.91, and Saturation -1.00; Tone Curve – left as set; Smudge Strength 0.11, Extent -0.34, and Sharpness 0.21; Bloom hooked to Smudge set to 0.70 opacity and Screen bm, Strength 0.40, Threshold 0.62, and Bloom size 0.25; Abstraction Color Space RGB, Simplify Size 0.41, Feature Boost 0.16, Detail Strength 0.20, Detail Boost 0, and Detail Radius 0.25 with Radiance set to Screen blend mode hooked to it, Radiance Type Dark, Strength 0.82, Width 0.29, Length 0.73, Curl 0, Suppress Weak 0.12, Sat 0.76, Coverage 1.00, Fade 0.11 and Sat 0; Duplicated this version and set same settings to Effect Opacity of 1.00. Created a preset called SJ Graphic Sketch I. Duplicated this version and applied the settings above. Then applied preset called Cartoon Gold with some changes: Brightness Contrast Adj: Contrast 1.54; Smudge Strength 0.10, Extent -0.38, and Sharpness 0.02; Abstraction Adj 0.58 layer opacity, Color Space RGB, Simplify Size 0.93 and Detail Radius 0.25; Dual Tone Opacity 0.29 and Saturation blend mode; Highlight Color 1.00, Highlight 0.16, Shadow Color 0.34, Shadow Hue 0.05, and Balance 0.45. Back in PS just my regular workflow: a Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer, Nik Viveza 2 to adjust color on the trees, and a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM DIGITAL LADY SYD!

Digitally Painted Christmas MessageWishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! And thank you for taking the time to stop by and check out my blogs. It has been a busy year, especially the last few months with all the new software and updates to older versions being released. It has been a real challenge to keep on top of it all. So for the next week I am taking it easy with family and friends. Then I am going to try and figure out how these programs really work and present some new techniques.

A couple of notes  –

  • If you are a Windows Luminar 2018 owner, Skylum sent out an update just a few days ago and fixed the plug-in problem with Photoshop. It now comes back into PS with the changes applied – that in itself is something to celebrate! If you are still having trouble, go into the stand-alone program and to File -> Install Plugins dialog where the Photoshop and Lightroom should say installed. Change to uninstall, go out of the dialog, then go back in and click Install. It should now work properly when you open PS.
  • Also, Topaz Studio issued an update last week with a few interface changes and the Glow filter added into the program – it should show the new Glow filter if you already own Topaz Labs Glow.  It stacks the Glow (which looks very similar to the Labs version) with HSL Color Tuning, Vignette, and Smudge filters. Wonderful extra Holiday treats here!
  • Have heard lots of people (including me) are raving over the updated Auto Button in Lightroom and Camera Raw – I am finding it is a great starting place for my other adjustments so give it a try!
  • And On1’s new Photo Raw 2018  seems to be really good – I am especially enjoying the overall speed and sharpness in my images with this program.

It has been a wonderful year with all the new advancements to the various plug-ins. (All the above plug-in website links can be found on the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) I see 2018 just getting better for us Power Photoshop Users. And with the old Nik filters being picked up by DxO, it should get really interesting!

The Christmas card above was one I created mainly using just Photoshop. The trees were created using the Filter -> Render -> Trees where the Pine Tree 1 was selected (this filter is not available in CS6). This is too much fun creating your own trees in PS – and did you know that if you select the Advanced tab (yes, there really is one there right next to the default Basic tab) the color of the leaves and branches can be changed! As silly as it sounds, this is the reason I keep coming back to PS – it just has some of the best tools and filters.  The tree was duplicated 4 times and each was Free Transformed and selecting the Warp Tool in the Options Bar.  Then mainly created some snow brushes (check out Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video to make one) and used one of Grut’s brushes called W Wain Riff brush to paint in more snow – this brush is free until Monday – check out each Monday for a new free brush! The deer is from Deer Antler Clipart by Tigerlily Design Co. The Santa and Reindeer is a brush I created. The color in the trees is from one of the basic Corel Particleshop plug-in packs using the Cluster and Light brush. The Merry Christmas lettering is from a major cool Photoshop template called Free Ice Cool Text Effects by Alifuwork where the font called Adrenaline Brush was used. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using PS’s Foggy Night preset was applied and set to Multiply blend mode at 69% layer opacity.

As stated before, hope everyone is having a Wonderful Holiday Season! Enjoy and see you next year!…..Digital Lady Syd


COMPARING RAW PHOTO PROGRAMS

Image of a Scottish House This week I am doing a quick comparison blog using the same image with several applications to check out their Camera Raw post-processing abilities. It was quite an interesting experiment to try and I found out a lot about my own post-processing techniques. So above is the image created fairly quickly where Lightroom was mainly used for the RAW post processing and then some tweaks in Photoshop. Below all images with no post-processing in Lightroom, but using the new RAW image capabilities in Luminar 2018, On1 Photos Raw 2018 and Topaz Studio (see links for all three software programs at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) and also Photoshop tweaks. This is a fun exercise to do when you are learning new programs. On the image above, this is the actual sky that was present – pretty overcast actually. For Lightroom settings and other info, check out Image 1 at end of blog.
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Below is the Luminar 2018 iterations of this beautiful hidden house near St. Andrews in Scotland. It is very similar to the Lightroom image – but the sky did not come out at all in the program so a new one was placed into the image in Photoshop. The program recently added workspaces for the Windows version so the Professional one was chosen to do the RAW processing. They have several choices for fixing image distortions by going into the Transform tab which is really nice. I will say this image took me a long time to get it looking the way I wanted it. At this point I am not comfortable with the Masking Brushes and Gradients in this program. But they have a good start on getting their RAW editing going. Right now I am looking to Luminar more for the interesting effects it can produce. Image of a Scottish Home
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This next image was totally post-processed as a RAW image in Topaz Studio using their Basic Adjustments filter. The more drawn effect was created by using their Radient filter which is very similar to the Topaz Glow plug-in and I kind of liked the effect on this image. The Impression filter also gives it more of an artistic look. For more info on settings, check out Image 3 at end of blog. I find their Basic Adjustment plugin is adequate and if the Basic Workflow preset is clicked, the Tone Curves filter opens up with it. It is a little more basic than the others, but works fine. Since I love so many of their plugins, it is hard for me to use this for overall editing – but they may be quite competitive once they get all their plugins working in the new interface.
Image of a Scottish home.
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Totally different feel and effect in the On1 image below and I really like it. This program has a lot to offer in the RAW editing area. I know they have been working on it for a long time and it is now very sophisticated. I am still learning the program but do not have many complaints in this area. This image does have that Glow effect On1 is known for which gives it a bit of an Orton look. This is not what the image looked like but it is what Scotland looks like to me. I really love the country!
Image of a Scottish home.

So what I learned is that I am still tending to use the programs for what I like and not necessarily for what they are trying to get you to use them for. I believe that On1 Photo Raw 2018 has a pretty good interface for doing the RAW processing – it has a Midtones slider that I really like. I am still trying to figure out how to use the Localized Adjustment brushes effectively to improve on this. Luminar RAW processing sliders are pretty good – just set up a little differently. Since I love the special effects they provide, it is not as important to me personally. Same with Topaz Studio – I know this is where they are trying to improve. They have a bit of a problem since they have so many special effects filters to incorporate and work with a develop section. I have always been a major Lightroom fan, even participating in their Beta testing before it was released. I am so comfortable with it, it is hard to imagine using a different RAW program. On the other hand, I do not see Adobe trying to improve upon this program at all. These three other plugins are giving them notice to start looking into improving their product. I would give all three plugins an A for effort. Each have sliders that are unique to their programs and I am really starting to learn how to apply them. I believe we have an exciting year ahead to see where things are going with these updated programs/plugins. If you do not own them, try downloading a trial – it may really click with your workflow and anything that will get you through the basic post-processing of an image faster is a good deal. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

IMAGE SETTING INFORMATION

IMAGE 1: The top image was post-processed mainly in Lightroom and Serge Ramelli’s workflow was used – check out any of his videos for a pretty nice Lightroom workflow. No presets used and these settings were used but this is the order the sliders were adjusted: Shadows +79, Highlights -100, Blacks -100 and Whites +32 (hold ATL key and drag to find the clipping points), Temp 5661, Tint +40, Exposure -0.54 – usually do Vibrance too but not in this image. Went to the Graduated Filter and created two: placed one pin in the sky and set it to Temp -10, -0.73, Contrast -50, Highlights -6, Clarity -3, and Saturation 62; and in bottom dragging up, Exposure -0.87, Contrast 41, Clarity -48, and Saturation -51. The Radial Filter was opened up and 6 pins were added – used little ones to lighten areas in the tree and even out some of the color. The Orange flowers were brightened. Last the Adjustment brush ws used and the foreground color was desaturated a little bit (Saturation -34). Image was now taken into PS where the electrical lines were spot-healed out. Also the sky was cleaned as there was some glass reflection in the right top cloud area. For this image Nik Viveza 2 was used to bring out the orange flowers a little more and to add a soft vignette in the image. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Foggy Night preset and the layer was set to 79% layer opacity. That is all that was done in this image and it took me 20 minutes to get it right – I know that is partly because I understand the program really well and not so much Luminar.

IMAGE 2: This image looks pretty much like the Lightroom one which is not surprising since several of the PS steps used were similar. Here are the settings for Luminar (it’s a lot here): Bottom Layer – Develop: Temp 4, Tint 22, Highlights -60, Shadows 38, Whites -42, Blacks -82; Accent AI Filter: Boost 54; Adjustable Gradient: Top Exp -22, Contrast 47, Vibrance -18, and Warmth -60; Bottom Exp -62, Contrast 31, Vibrance 18, Warmth -7; Orientation Blend 47; Saturation/Vibrance: Vibrance Amount 31; Advanced Contrast: Highlights 68, Midtones 17, Shadows 8; Dehaze: Amount 23; Golden Hour: Amount 29/Saturation -33; Structure: Amount 24, Softness 47; Image Radiance: Amount 40, Smoothness 33, Brightness -56, Shadows 32, and Warmth -40, Sat 11; Vignette: Amount -29, size 37, Roundness -73, Feather 42, and Inner Light 43. Layer 0 – Dodge & Burn – Burn on tree on left – Strength 21%/Lighten on the right lower bright spot – Strength 21%. Layer 1 – Sun Ray Filter: Place Sun Center on right edge – X95/Y25, Amount 34, Look 66, Number 78, Length 65, Warmth 55, Radius 19, Glow Radius 70, Glow Amount 60, Warmth 66, Penetration 63, and Randomize 20. Layer 2 – Matte Look: Amount 47, Fade 49, Contrast 7, Vividness 11, Range 27, and Saturation 50. In PS, first the electrical lines were removed with the spot Healing Brush. The sky was really blown out so a light blue sky was added. Then some of my free Cloud brushes were used to add some clouds into the sky. A couple Spotlight Effect layers were used to direct attention into the trees and front of the house. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog.) A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was applied using Foggy Night and 73% layer opacity (like in Image 1). Had to use a small Smudge Brush to smooth out the edges of the trees where the new sky leaves a little edge. Basically that is all there was to it.

IMAGE 3: This image used Topaz Studio. The settings were as follows: TSO – Basic Adjustments filter: Exposure -0.34, Clarity 0.29, Shadow 0.75, Highlight -0.65, Black Level -0.86, White Level 0.24, Temp -0.07, Tint 0.29; Brightness Contrast filter: Brightness -0.34, Contrast 0.96, Sat 1.65; Radiance filter: Dark, Strength 0.62, Width 0.20, Sat -0.42, Fade 0.39, Sat 1.00; Color Overlay filter: Color – #7c0008 – red cast preset – set to Screen bm at 0.30 opacity; Impression filter: Used SJ Underpaint Effect in Preset from drop-down and set Painting Progress slider to 0.34/inverted layer mask and just painted in where the trees and foreground area using brush and Mask Transparency of 0.17/set filter to 0.75 opacity. In PS removed the electrical line and the sky, which did not have any detail in them. A soft blue background layer was created and Grut’s FX Cloud Brushes (this whole set is fabulous!) – Kewm was used to paint in soft clouds at size 300 px. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to Foggy Night preset and 63% layer opacity was added next. Five Layers all set to Overlay blend mode were used to add soft lighting effect on the various areas of the image to brighten them up – in the trees, front of house and the orange flowers – used a large soft round brush set to 50-100% Opacity and a Flow of 9%. Created a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer to darken the sky area a little and add overall contrast to the image. (See my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blend Image Effect blog.) Last step involved using a Gradient Adjustment Layer to create a slight vignette. (See my Yet Another Great Way to Create a Vignette blog.)

IMAGE 4: This image used On1 Photo Raw 2018. Here we go with some rather extensive settings – this program has a lot of choices for creating your image. In Develop module: 1. Cropped Image. 2. Use Crop Tool set to 67% feather and Size 15 to remove electrical line running throughout image. 3. Set Levels (Histogram) tab up top and adjusted the Tone & Color panel. 4. In Tone section adjusted the Highlights -26, Midtones -34, and Shadows -17. Love the Midtones slider – best improvement over LR for Raw files. 5. Clicked the clipping tabs in Histogram to see if clipping while adjust Whites -36 and Blacks -85. 6. Set Haze to -33. 7. Color Section set to Temp 5475 and Tint 40 and Vibrance 12. 8. Details – no changes – no noise. 9. Lens Correction: it was automatically set to my lens. Effects Module: 1. Opened Tone Enhancer filter and selected Darker from the drop-down under More. Set Compression (knocks down bright areas and opens up shadow areas) to max 200 – this brought the sky detail. 2. Selected Dynamic Contrast filter and set Medium to -47 and Large to-23, Shadows -26, Whites 9, and Blacks -12. 3. Color Enhancer filter – Vibrance 18, Orange set to Hue 17, Sat 8 and Brightness -12, Yellow set to Sat 6 and Brightness 3, and Purple Sat 19 and Brightness 20; in a mask painted in areas to make brighter on an inverted mask (mainly the orange flowers, red trees on left where some spotting was, and tips of green bushes and front of house) – set the Density to 74 and Feather 10; then changed Temp to 65. Did a bunch of readjustments to get this to look natural – used the Levels slider (set midtones tab to 2/3 left) – correct settings are above. 4. Glow filter – set to Dark Glow preset, Amount 69 and Halo 20, mode Multiply. Filter set to 80% opacity.  In Photoshop: 1. Opened in Photoshop. Added a New Layer and selected the spot-healing brush – got rid of a grid from window glare by just scribbling back and forth in an upward stroke and incredibly got rid of all the ugliness! Just scribble left and right while moving upward – this works on large areas – and ran it up for quite a bit. If there are little white halos around trees and sky, can just run a small sized (8 px) spot-healing brush over the edges and they disappear. 2. Used a Levels AL to get the gray out of the sky. First used the TAT to brighten the sky in the gray area. Then inverted the mask and painted back the sky using PNaik brush. Readjusted the RGB channel, then changed to the blue to add a little blue tone into the sky to match the other areas. Then went into the Red channel and added a little red in to match the pink color in the sky. 3. Added a New Layer and named it Spotlight Effect – set to Overlay bm. Used soft round Reg Brush set to 100% opacity and Flow of 9% and added in white on the building and in the trees to really make the image pop. Set to 73% opacity. 4. Added a New Layer set to overlay and used a Green sampled color to reduce the effect of light in a corner using same brush again. 5. Used a Black and White AL – adjusted colors then set to Luminosity bm. Adjusted more and painted out the sky so it was not a blown out white. Set layer opacity to 47%. 6. Added a Selective Color AL – wanted to adjust the electric green grass in front of wall – set Yellows to Cyan -79, Magenta -7, Yellow -25, and Black -4; Neutrals Cyan -8, Magenta -2, Yellow -4 and Black +18. Loved the fall colors that showed up so set it to 86% layer opacity. Still had grass problem. 7. Added another Selective Color AL – This time to fix grass. Yellows Cyan -73, Magenta -3, Yellow -24, and Black -25; Greens: Cyan -72, Yellow +2, and Black +50; Inverted layer mask and painted back just the grass in front of wall.  8. Created a Red Channel Luminosity Channel to adjust the color a little. Used RGB channel only. Moved the left bottom black tab up and to the right (Input 7/Output 49), then dragged point to right a little to add a little detail effect (Input 26/Output 49). Pulled down on the overall curve just a little. 9. Used Karen Alsop’s trick to blend in elements. Set New Layer to 12% layer opacity and using a 500 Px brush set to 24 flow, sampled sky and painted over edges of leaves so they do not look so harsh. 10. Did final stroke and signature layers.


PLUGINS, CAMERA RAW CONVERTERS, NEW FILTERS – IT IS GETTING CRAZY OUT THERE!

Image of view from Edinburgh Castle, ScotlandI don’t know where everyone else is, but I am getting so totally confused about all the new software-plugin releases that have come out in recent days/weeks. I was hooked on plugins since I bought Nik Viveza at Christmas of 2009. I remember being nervous about paying so much for it, but loved it right from the beginning (and now it is free!!!). Over the years I have become totally immersed in what can be done with all the plugins available – and wish I could afford to get them all (sigh). So in this wordy blog I will try to sort this out.

As a quick example, let’s talk about Viveza 2 again. I downloaded the first beta version of Lightroom and never looked back. Lots of people said Nik Viveza was just a copy of what Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw)  could do for an image. Yes, it did similar things, but still was a lot different in my mind. Flash forward and I still use Viveza on nearly every post-processed photo even though we now have the somewhat similar Camera Raw Filter available in Photoshop. The point here is that yes, there is a lot of overlap between most of these programs, and yes, they do things just different enough that they all present some benefits to your post-processing workflow. It is really just personal taste in how you want to adjust your images.

So here we are now with not one, not two, but three really good updated software programs (not to mention several other newer ones on the scene) that can process Camera Raw images and do pretty much everything Lightroom/ACR does. They are now all stand-alone programs or plugins for Photoshop layers. For website links to all three programs, check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar. Using the same image of Edinburgh Castle, the top one used Luminar 2018 for Windows, and below used On1 Raw 2018 and Topaz Studio. I tried to use a fairly similar workflow doing the basic Raw editing first and then adding in filter effects. So here is my take on where we are now.

All three of the above programs are really good – I am not going to bash any of them as they all do things I totally love. Do they overlap in what they do? Somewhat, but each has a few things I wish they all could do. Of course that is what sets them apart and why it is so hard to decide which one(s) to get.

To figure out which one would fit your workflow, you need to answer a pretty simple question: What do you want to do with your image or several of your future images? Where is your interest going – do you want to go more into an artistic feel or are you just trying to get the most realistic images for your profession or travel experiences? Since I do not have a professional studio or take wedding or senior photos often, I am more inclined to really stretch what the plugins will do to give an artistic feel to an image. Now I do understand that having a few quick tricks up your sleeve for clients to give them a choice of a few really artistic images is nice to have so using special effect plugins is just fine for that.

  • Topaz Studio

First, the Topaz Studio is a free download and contains several adjustments to get your started. Your older Topaz Labs filters can be accessed in this interface so you will always have access to them. You can’t go wrong with Topaz Studio’s Impression or one of their other creative Labs programs like Topaz ReStyle or Topaz Texture Effects for the really artistic effects. Impression has given Topaz the one-up on the other programs for the artistic effects and I am sure you have read lots about it – it is one of my favorite plugins. And I have to mention this little slider that lets you stop the painting action wherever you want – great addition to the updated filter. Topaz has done a terrific job with their masking effects tools and the different masking tools work really smoothly. The biggest down side is that even though Topaz Studio platform is free, to get it to work well you need to buy their Pro Pack. Therefore it brings it in line with the other two programs as far as cost goes. The Impression filter (or Clarity, Detail, or Simplify) needs to be bought individually to add into the Studio interface. If you already own Topaz Impression (or the other filters) as a Topaz Labs filter, you are entitled to a free upgrade for Studio (forever is their policy – once a filter is bought it is upgraded for free). And please do update to the newer Topaz Studio Impression filter – it is much better than the older Impression 2. If you own many Topaz filters, they will all eventually be added into the Studio interface. I am not going to say the program does not have its problems, but I do know enough by working with them that their final product will be very good. They have a Basic Adjustment that is not as complete as the others, but with the addition of the Clarity and Detail plug-ins, and several color adjustments choices, it is fine. In the image below, just a little more work on the clouds and some color reduction would really help and can be easily fixed in the program.

Image of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland - using Topaz Studio

  • On1 Photo Raw 2018

Photo Raw is now a really good challenger to Lightroom and is definitely worth checking out if you do lots of photo shoots. I have always liked On1 but it was very computer processor intensive. Their Browse Module is now lightening fast – it makes LR look really slow. I was stunned at how fast it all happens and it appears to be picking up my keywords from LR – that was even more amazing! And my computer hardly even cared. Once an image is chosen, go into their Develop Module which sets you up with the needed filters and is very similar to LR. Besides Shadow and Highlight sliders, there is a Midtone slider which I really like. There are other similar sliders to LR and includes a Detail section and Lens Correction section. Then it is time to go into the Effects Module where they provide lots of presets and individual filter choices. A very popular filter is called Dynamic Contrast – very similar to Detail in Topaz. Also the Glow filter is to be very popular. When masking, they do have a lot of choices (including a new Chisel Brush and Blur Brush) but I found it a little harder to use than in Topaz or LR. The filter settings can be somewhat hidden which includes the  blending options, and Highlight, Midtone, and Shadow sliders so the filter is only applied to certain areas if wanted. My biggest problem with On1 is the high learning curve. I believe it is a fantastic program and technically is going to keep Adobe on their toes. But it does take time to watch the videos to understand where everything is in the interface and what all the different filters will do. I can honestly say that On1 is totally improved from previous versions and I plan on using it a lot more. In the image below, the cloud color is just not quite right to me but the foreground sharpness is incredible! The clouds can be fixed easily in the program.

Image of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland using ON1 Photo Raw 2018

  • Luminar 2018

And now to Luminar 2018 – new entry for me into the field since I am a Windows person and this was for Mac previously. The image at the top of the blog is the Luminar example – loved the cloud effect especially and the Golden Hour filter on the front of the buildings. There are other parts I love and parts I hate it! Okay – if they would have updated it to match their Mac counterpart for us Windows users, I would love it. After watching several  videos just to find out all the sliders are not there, it is a bit frustrating. I also find that the Masking Tools are harder to use than with the other programs. The Mac version has several grouped filters for different types of effects – for Raw images an Essentials group was created which contains Tone, Accent AI, Color Temp, and Polarizing Filters. In Windows there are Filters Catalog but the Essentials is not the same group. This is definitely confusing. (Thank you Serge Ramelli for the video showing this filter set up – see Luminar 2018 vs Lightroom Classic?) But I love their filters and they seem to give a slightly different feel to an image – the Sun Ray filter, the Golden House filter, an Accent AI filter – and many others. Of the 3 image results shown, I liked the results from Luminar the best. I am under the assumption Luminar will be catching up the Windows version soon so it will work just like the Mac users interface. When that occurs, I will blog on this so everyone knows.

  • Bottom Line

I do love all these programs – have used Topaz and On1 for years – in fact my second favorite plugin from years ago was On1’s Photo Frame 4.6 – the best framing plug-in ever and I was totally upset when they discontinued it. BTW they do still have some framing options, but it is not quite the same – will blog on this soon. All three of my images are not that different – just some personal preferences there. And this was basically just using the Raw processors – each program has decidedly different strengths which are not showcased in these examples. A recent post by Photoshop Guru Matt Kloskowski called Is There a Lightroom Replacement explains in more detail about the browser and Raw converter issues – a good read. And check out my Related Blogs below for some other examples of what these programs can do.

As you can see things are changing as we come into a faster and more efficient software era. We have to say good-bye to some of the ways we used to post-process and attempt to figure out what to do with all the “Raw Converters!” – and what do we need from a filter program. I think so much of what you choose has to be based on just trying out the software now and seeing what works. Like I said, I am pleased, I am frustrated, and I am amazed at some of the filters I am now seeing. All three of these plug-ins are seasoned software companies and know what they are doing. Apparently Nik has been bought from Google recently by DxO and will be coming out this Spring with some updates. So there will be a new-old kid in town to really spice things up. Will I use their Raw converters for my work? Probably not so much – still a LR person at this point. Will I use their Special Effects filters? Totally!!! Hope this helped a little if you are as confused as me. I will continue updating you on all the new things coming out with these plug-ins but in the meantime, just try them out. It is amazing what some of the new filters are doing and it may fit just what you need for creating a new type of post-processing effect. In the meantime, Happy Black Friday if you are in the US and good luck finding some great PS finds!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Macphun Luminar 2018 Sun Rays at a Glance
Now Available – Free Beta Version of Macphun’s Luminar for Windows
Introducing the Free Topaz Studio
Updated Impression Now in Topaz Studio
Updated Clarity Now in Topaz Studio
How to Add a Simple Glow Effect to Your Image
A Beautiful View
My Favorite Photo Frame Plug-In – OnOne PhotoFrames (hum!) – just a little nostalgia here


NO BLOG THIS WEEK DUE TO HURRICANE IRMA

Image of a bird walking in waterNo post for a while as unfortunately I live in Florida with Hurricane Irma on the way. This bird was taken after Hurricane Matthew last October. Figure the birds will be the only ones not concerned about what is coming. Will be back as soon as possible on the other side!…..Digital Lady Syd


UPDATED CLARITY NOW IN TOPAZ STUDIO

Image of a Tri-colored Heron at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmThis week Topaz released an update to their very popular Clarity plug-in and it is a really nice upgrade. It is now much improved over an already excellent filter that is one of the best Photoshop plug-ins around. The Heron above was not processed very  much in Lightroom, all in Clarity Topaz Studio and a little in Nik Viveza to adjust the light on the birds head and wing tip. Before going any further, please be aware that Topaz is not going to update the actual Topaz Labs version if you own it. Instead it will be updated in Studio (to download go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar and for more info check out my see my Introducing the Free Topaz Studio blog) before adding the Clarity update. If you have Studio already running, just go to the website to find the Clarity update by clicking this link. Topaz does a great job of walking you through this new process on the Topaz Studio website. So what is so different?

It is all in the Clarity Interface. In Photoshop, the new Clarity update will now be linked as Clarity in Topaz Studio (Filters -> Topaz Studio -> Clarity) instead of in the regular Topaz Labs individual plug-ins. By selecting Clarity, an interface very similar to Topaz Studio will appear that contains two adjustments, Precision Control and HSL Color Tuning. See image below for an example of the bird as it looked in Clarity for Studio (click to see large view Flickr). Screenshot of Precision Contrast section in Clarity for Topaz Studio

Precision Contrast Adjustment

As you can see the Clarity Dynamics section from the Topaz Labs Clarity plug-in is now called the Precision Control Adjustment. The Contrast section contains the original Micro, Low, Medium and High Contrast sliders but the website says they are now much improved – I believe they are after using the update on the bird image. Some of the feathers on the bird are crazy sharp! The Lighting section sliders are better at detecting the Shadows, Midtones and Highlights – these appear to be derived from the original Toning Section Black Level, Midtones, and White Levels sliders. Also there are Equalization buttons (low, medium, or high) which are supposed to emulate the Region technology in Topaz Adjust. I have not fully explored this. The Preset drop-down has several choices for setting up these sliders (Balance, Brighter, Brightness, Color Detail, Color Boost, Details, HDR, Little Things, Reduce Shadows, Saturation Boost, and Sharp). This image shows settings for the Color Detail preset. There are also presets on the left side which I did not use for this image. All your original Clarity presets are migrated over. Unfortunately at this time there are no subcategories so one long list of presets occurs – I cannot seem to figure out a logical order to them and my personal presets are all over the place. The good news is that there is a field for searching for your presets if you can remember what you named them. Hopefully Topaz will address this situation in a future update.

HSL Color Tuning Adjustment

The second part of the original Clarity was called Hue/Sat/Lum and now is called HSL Color Tuning. Not a lot different other than each color has individual sliders where the color is shown in the image, and a Gray Color is available. Also some presets are in a drop-down (Extreme Hue I and II, Increase Cool, Increase Warm, Red Cool, Red Warm, Subtle Hue I and II). Three new sliders have been added: Details (to help recover detail lost from increasing the brightness of the different color or whole image), Suppress Artifacts (to remove rough and unnatural edges and helps reduce artifacts to reduce detail), and Color Sensitivity (set higher to add saturation in the whites and grays in surrounding image). Not sure I understand how these setting work exactly yet, but the website does a good job of telling what they do.

By using the Studio interface, each adjustment can be masked, different blend modes applied, and opacity adjusted. So there really is  a major benefit to using the upgraded version in Clarity for Studio. In the screenshot below, you can see the Precision Control mask created for this image. I did not want the background to appear crisp, so by clicking on the plus sign on the upper right of the adjustment, a layer mask is opened. I inverted it and used the Brush tool to just paint back the bird. The brush tool has really been improved – it does not crash my system if too many strokes are made too quickly.
Screenshot of Layer Mask in Precision Contrast Adjustment in Clarity for StudioTwo HSL Color Tuning Adjustments were used: One to change the green color in the upper right corner (a layer mask was used to localize the color change), and one to emphasize the Red, Green and Blue colors, and adjust the Details, Suppress Artifacts and Color Sensitivity sliders. See screen shot below.
HSL Color Tuning Adjustments in updated Clarity in Topaz StudioIf you bought the Pro Adjustments pack from Topaz Studio, the Clarity updated sliders will also be in the Precision Contrast and HSL Color Tuning adjustments in Topaz Studio. If using the stand alone version of Topaz Studio, I do not see at this time a specific link to the Clarity for Studio update in the menu for those who previously owned Topaz Labs Clarity. I believe the two Adjustments will just be added to the regular Topaz Studio interface. Note that you can still reach the original Topaz Labs Clarity plug-in (and all your other plug-ins) in both the stand-alone version and the Photoshop Filter version by going to the Plug-ins in the top options menu of either Clarity for Studio or the Topaz Studio interfaces. Image of Holyrood Castle carvingsThe image above is from Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Clarity in Studio did a great job on the detail of the stone carvings. A Dodge and Burn 50% gray layer was added to finish up, but Clarity did most of the detail work in this image. It also does a great job on landscapes so give that a try too. Below is a house located in the Scottish Highland and is probably a little over the top with processing, but I like the almost illustrative artsy effect. Instead of using the HSL Color Tuning Adjustment, the Dehaze Adjustment from the Pro pack was used to make the tree colors sharper – a preset was made in the Community called SJ Clarity PC with Dehaze that you can download to try out the settings. Then I also added one of my favorite Topaz plug-ins, Detail 3, and set the Med Detail to 0.38, Large Detail to 0.15 and Tone Contrast to 0.30 set to 59% layer opacity. That was about it. The combination of Clarity and Detail is one I actually use quite a bit when I want this type of look.
Image of a Scottish Highland mansionIt appears that Topaz will now be using the Topaz Studio as the location for all upgrades to their plug-ins that are currently linked in Photoshop as Filter -> Topaz Labs -> Topaz (plug-in name).  I know Topaz is one of the best software groups around and they will answer any questions you have if there is a problem with the upgrade. It took me a while to figure out how to add the upgrade. And I did have to update my video card after loading it as all the sliders disappeared. Topaz suggested on their website to try this if there are problems and gave you a step-by-step guide to follow. I hope you will all enjoy this update. I am finding it to have wonderful results. Hope you get a chance to give it a whirl this week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HAVING SOME SUMMER FUN!

Creative Text imageThis week I am just taking it easy and playing around with some text and images. Sometimes you just have to let the creative side play and see what happens! Anyway, this is how Digital Lady Syd takes a break! I just can’t get away from Photoshop! I do not usually use other individuals’ images, but for practice it is great – I do not see me getting to these beautiful mountains soon! There are many resources today if you would like to try a few new things.

In the image above a text layer was placed in a new document – the font used was from a CD bought years ago by Cosmi called 04, a fabulously fat font. The Create Warped Text icon on the Options Bar was double-clicked and in the Warp Text dialog, a Style called Arc Upper was selected with a Bend of +50%. A Stroke Layer Style was set to a Size 7 px, inside set to Color white. The Default Drop Shadow was added. Some splatter brushes from French Kiss (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) were used above and underneath the text to add the crazy effect. A Pattern Adjustment Layer using a lace pattern was clipped (ALT+Click between the layers) to add a lacy effect in some of the strokes. (The Pattern used was a black and white lace texture from a set redheadstock at DeviantArt called Lace Photoshop Patterns.) The SS-Groping 1 Flying birds are also from redheadstock and set to 73% layer opacity. One of my painted textures was placed on the bottom and a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to desaturate it. On a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle was applied using the Snow Cover II preset with a few adjustments to the Color and Tone sections. The lower text font was called Berlin Sans FB Demi. On a layer above the text, Grut’s FX IL Bottle Topple brush from his terrific Inky Leaks Splatter brushes was applied to slightly cover the text – set to 64% layer opacity (and do not forget to look for his free brush of the week – it is a great way to get introduced to his big selection of brushes).

Digital art image a pretty modelThe original of the woman shows her standing in the middle of some orange colored leaves – I think she looks like a princess! (See Kuoma Stock Haunted 13 for original image at DeviantArt.) The woman was extracted from the background using the Select and Mask Command. Another one of my painted backgrounds was added and a couple layers of splatters were added behind the girl. Color was added to her face and nails and hair added into the image. On a New Blank Layer heart brush was created from the Custom Shape Tool (in Options Bar select the Heart Shape and set the 2nd button to Shape; go to the Paths Panel and click the Create a Selection icon at bottom; go back to Layers Panel and fill selection with black by ALT+Backspace to fill; with Marquee Tool, select the black Heart and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and name Heart). Settings for the brush are: Brush Panel’s Brush Tip Shape Spacing 25%; Shape Dynamics Size Jitter 93%, Control Pen Pressure, Angle Jitter 12; Scattering Both Axes, Scatter 1000%, Count 1, Count Jitter 0; Color Dynamics Apply Per Tip, Foreground to Background 8%, Hue 7%, Sat Jitter 2%, Brightness Jitter 7%, and Purity -36%; Transfer Opacity Jitter 20% and Flow Jitter 32% and Smoothing on. Two New Blank Layers were used to add in different colors (white and light pink) hearts – one layer’s Layer Style ws opened and set to Bevel and Emboss to add a little texture to some of the hearts. Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened and the Breaking Down preset was applied with the Spot Mask used to remove effect from her face. Duplicated the layer and opened up the Corel Painter plug-in (I am still using the old version) – the Flame brush was selected and pink and light color flames were painted just for fun. The old frame is from the Scrapbooker itKuPilli and is in a set called Amazing Grapes (could not locate). The font with the hearts is called Fiolex Girls. On top 2 Lil’ Owls Color Bokeh Grunge Set texture 4 (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar – this is one of my favorite sets) was applied and set to 38% layer opacity.

Wintry image of Fur TreesThis is also a wonderful Unsplash photo by Johannes Plenio called Winter. I got a little carried away post-processing this image until it was brought to my attention that it looked like a raging forest fire – I thought it was an incredible sunset! (See below.) Just an example of good intentions that turned into not so good post processing. Anyway, just a little tweak from Topaz ReStyle and now it is a beautiful wintry image. So most of the dramatic changes were done in the new Topaz Studio using Sharpen, Radiance, Color Theme, Texture and HSL Color Tuning sections (I created a preset called SJ Forest Landscape in the Community if you have downloaded the plugin and would like to try it out). For more info, see my Introducing the Free Topaz Studio blog. This created the sunset look, but also created the nice sharp tree trunks and edges. Back in PS, two Curves Adjustment Layers were used to adjust the RGB curve for contrast, and then the Color using the individual Channel Curves. Next a Levels Adjustment was applied as it just looked good. Then a Black and White Adjustment Layer adjusting the color contrast sliders just a little and then set to Luminosity blend mode. And finally a Selective Color Adjustment Layer adjusted the Yellow color so the little tree on the left showed up better – set the layer mask to black (CTRL+I inside the mask) and painted back just the tree. 5 New Blank Layers were added and set to Overlay blend mode and with a soft round brush, various areas were highlighted with white, yellow, and sky colors. The layer opacities were reduced to taste. It was now a raging fire image! Oh my gosh! Okay, here is a small image so you get the idea and see how powerful ReStyle can be.

Fiery Image of Fur TreesQuickly Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Snow Cover II preset (once again) was applied with very few changes – just a few Tone and Detail changes. It was amazing how this preset was able to transform the image. In PS a New Blank Layer was added and Grut’s FX IL Dry Grit brush was used from his set above and snow was painted lightly on the trees. My free SJ Snow2 Overlay slight Blur was added at 75% layer opacity to give some nice snow effect. The Shadowhouse Creations Snow Overlay 11 (his resources are the best!) was added to give a little more snow dimension – it was set to Screen blend mode at 70% layer opacity. The last step added Matt Kloskowski’s vignette (see my Fun Photoshop How to Create a Subtle Vignette Blog.)

Hope you got a few ideas with this sort of lazy Summer Day Blog – have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd