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Topaz Texture Effects Review

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Topaz Texture Effects Review

The Topaz Labs range of plugins adds texture editing and effects

Site Notice: Like many working photographers, our work has diminished greatly in these challenging times, so I'm at home a lot. The silver lining is that I've lots of articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please do let me know - Keith
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Keith Cooper has been looking at Topaz Texture Effects, a brand new addition to the range of Topaz image editing plugins.

The plugin offers many preset combinations of creative effects and is flexible enough for you to create (and share) a wide variety of editing presets for your own use.

We've reviews of all Topaz software. See the Topaz Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.
Studio and Plugins/addons have a free 30 day trial

granby street

What do you get with Topaz Texture Effects

The plugin functions an a standalone program and will also install as an ‘add-on’ for other software, such as Photoshop and Lightroom. It’s first installed as a standalone program, and will then set things up for acting as a plugin, where supported.

There is a fully functional 30 day demo version of the software available.

V1.1 update January 2016 – 42 new textures, 15 new effects and performance enhancements.

It does a lot, and describing everything is not easy. This from Topaz Labs:

“Texture Effects allows users to create a variety of textured, toned, and lighting effects in a fraction of the time it takes in other editing software. The program includes a library of over 150 expertly crafted effects, an extensive collection of texture assets (275+ high-resolution assets), and instant access to effects other Topaz users have shared with the new Topaz Community. ”

New: Topaz Studio - complete editing package (info)

Buying Topaz Labs plugins:  Direct from Topaz [check link for deals]

Individual plugins are downloadable (30 day free trial) - we have reviews of all of the Topaz plugins.

If you buy any software via this link (bundle or individual plugin), then we get a small fee (it costs you no more). Neither Keith Cooper nor Northlight Images has any other connection with Topaz labs whatsoever. We believe strongly in making any affiliate links like this clear. 
Use our 15% discount code 'Northlight' for an additional discount on some promotions.

Latest Topaz Texture Effects 2 [Texture Effects 2 review]
>> Plugins and Topaz Studio

Using the Plugin

I’m testing the software as a plugin in Photoshop CS6, but other software (and standalone working) offers similar functionality.

Texture Effects can be accessed as a plugin in:

  • Photoshop CS4+
  • Photoshop Creative Cloud
  • Photoshop Elements 6+
  • Corel Paintshop Pro X
  • Serif PhotoPlus X5+
  • Lightroom as an external editor
  • photoFXlab

Opening up an image gives an optional overview of what to do – always worth a quick look if you’ve not used the software for a few months…

opening screen for plugin

This plugin has a lot of options and combinations of using them. If you add to that the ability to fine tune adjustment settings, you can easily be overwhelmed

I’ll start off with a run through of some of the predefined effect collections, since that’s what most people will look at first.

launch plugin

It’s a photo taken in Leicester city centre one afternoon as part of a collection for a client putting together a brochure for a commercial property sale. As such I’d not normally do much more than process the RAW file and supply it as a JPEG.

I’m starting off with the predefined edit recipes, although these are broken into broad categories.

old print look to image

A lighter version with a distinct pen and watercolour look

pen and watercolour look

The effects have an interesting range of titles.

The one below is entitled “Crisp morning run” – a subject I have no personal desire to gain any knowledge of whatsoever… ;-)

pale blue light

‘Forest light’

forest look

“Summer Haze” – this one has a much more noticeable texture applied.

adding texture and colour effects

At this point I changed over to the grid view, and suddenly there were hundreds of them.

grid view of preset image editing options

Many look quite extreme – I wondered what categories were showing up?

A check at the top of the collection showed that I was seeing both the locally installed effects and ‘community’ ones.

source for preset editng effects

An important feature of the software is that it makes it easy to share your own effect creations.

This for me instantly sets alarm bells ringing – I’m already becoming a bit lost in the collection, and the last thing I need is hundreds more options. I’d really rather start out with a few options and then decide to allow the floodgates to open as and when I wish.

As you’d expect – author names and effect titles probably don’t mean much ;-)

community sourced image presets

I’ll leave the collected meanderings of the internet for another day (and I’m just seeing the relatively small amount of pre-release stuff here), and switch to ‘Local’ only.

Note: my choice of ‘local’ does not remain set, so I have to turn off ‘community’ every time – minor irritation, but less than optimal UI design IMHO.

As you can see, even with ‘Local’ selected, I’ve a lot of options.

setting choice to preinstalled options

These can easily be filtered though.

I should note that many of the categories didn’t match effects in any obvious way for me, so perhaps take the names as ‘concepts’ at best ;-)

filter selection sets

What makes up an ‘Effect’

One of the real strengths of the software is the way you can stack individual (adjustable) effect types into an overall effect, which you can save (oh, and share too…).

The best way to explore this is perhaps to find an effect you like and then look at what makes it work.

The example below includes four different groups of settings, with the last one opened up to see the values for all its individual settings.

combining adjustments to make an effect

Note how you can apply an adjustment/effect layer several times – twice here for ‘Basic Adjustment’.

I’ll break it down here from the original image, through revealing successive adjustment ‘layers’.

The original image – with all 4 layers turned off.

source image

A basic adjustment changes colour and tonality

first adjustment

A texture layer gives, in this case, a print look.

second adjustment

Split toning changes the range of colours in use.

third adjustment

A final basic adjustment layer desaturates and changes local contrast (clarity/structure).

fourth adjustment

Adding your own adjustments

At any point you can add new adjustment layers.

I’m not going through all of these – there is a free demo of the software available, along with a good manual and numerous other training resources from Topaz.

adjustment types

A few simple examples should give the idea.

First up, a simple shadows adjustment – roll your mouse over the image to see that not all adjustments need to be loud and obvious.

Original ImageHover Image

Don’t let some of the example settings put you off – there is a lot of capacity for subtle image processing available behind the gaudy ‘creative’ glitz ;-)

The strengths of working with different layers may not be familiar to some, but it’s one of the main reasons I choose Photoshop for most of my work compared to Lightroom.

I can add a bit of ‘clarity’ (aka structure or local contrast) – shown a bit stronger here for illustration.

add clarity effect to image

What if I only want to apply the effect to parts of the image?

I can mask it, or in this first example – brush it in.

Note the circular brush outline, and how the effect is confined to within the circle.

localised adjustment

The brush can be inverted, so in the image below, the circular brush outline shows a lack of effect, where I’ve painted it out.

removing part of the adjustment area

There are mask painting options, with a visible mask.

The black area of the mask below shows where I’ve painted out the effect (white = apply effect, black = mask effect)

masking out an adjustment

At any time I can add another effect layer, such as this diffusion blur.

adding a second adjustment layer

As with the previous layer, I can use a mask, so here the blur is only applied to the buildings (white part of mask).

masking in an adjustment by painting in to the mask

More textures

There are quite literally hundreds more effects and textures you can apply – before even considering adding your own custom examples.

Here’s a ‘light leak’ – one of the many joys of film you just don’t get any more (yay!)

adding a light leak texture

As you’d expect, there are a lot of them!

They can of course also be masked and blended with your image in a number of ways.

styles of light leaks

Then there are textures…

textures available to apply to images

At the risk of repeating myself, you really do need to explore the software thoroughly to see if you like what it can do.

Here’s a ‘light leak’ and lens flare added to an evening view of the pier at Cromer.

light leak and lens flare

Whilst a different one might make for a setting sun (apart from the fact that -I- know I’m looking due North)…

cromer pier with fireball over North Sea

That’s enough adding fireballs over the North Sea…

Conclusions

New: Topaz Studio - complete editing package (info)

Buying Topaz Labs plugins:  Direct from Topaz [check link for deals]

Individual plugins are downloadable (30 day free trial) - we have reviews of all of the Topaz plugins.

If you buy any software via this link (bundle or individual plugin), then we get a small fee (it costs you no more). Neither Keith Cooper nor Northlight Images has any other connection with Topaz labs whatsoever. We believe strongly in making any affiliate links like this clear. 
Use our 15% discount code 'Northlight' for an additional discount on some promotions.

Latest Topaz Texture Effects 2 [Texture Effects 2 review]
>> Plugins and Topaz Studio

The plugin works very well and handled the 16 bit 50MP images I’ve used above with no noticeable sluggishness or slowdown.

As you’ve probably guessed, not much of this stuff is of the remotest use to me in my ‘day job’ as a commercial photographer – that doesn’t stop me from experimenting and playing around.

In looking at this software I’ve tried to see just how much it does, and how easily it lets you do it.

It is very easy to use and explore, and if you like doing this sort of thing to your images then it is superb ;-)

If you keep reminding yourself that not all dials need to be turned up to eleven, then the plugin is capable of quite subtle adjustments, and if you took the time to really explore the availability of layers and masking, potentially very useful for applications like Lightroom.

I do personally have some doubts about automatically including ‘community’ contributions in the list of available effects – more particularly in that you can’t default it to ‘off”.

It’s this massive ‘wall’ of effects that I can see will be off-putting to some – it’s about the ‘tyranny of choice’ – I’m reminded of an excellent article about this at The Economist.

If ‘too much choice’ is the biggest failing I can come up with, it isn’t bad…

One of those plugins that after some experimentation, proved itself to be capable of an awful lot more than I first took it for.

There is a fully functional 30 day demo version of the software available.

We've reviews of all Topaz software. See the Topaz Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.
Studio and Plugins/addons have a free 30 day trial

Summary

Software plugin and standalone application for adding textured, toned, and lighting effects to images and share preset adjustment collections.

Can work with a wide range of ‘hosting’ software.

Texture Effects can be accessed as a plugin in:

  • Photoshop CS4+
  • Photoshop Creative Cloud
  • Photoshop Elements 6+
  • Corel Paintshop Pro X
  • Serif PhotoPlus X5+
  • Lightroom as an external editor
  • photoFXlab
System Requirements

Mac OS X 10.8 or higher

Windows 7/8/10 x64 + Open GL 3.2

*Does not support Windows 32bit

There is more information at Topaz Labs

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Site Notice: Like many working photographers, our work has diminished greatly in these challenging times, so I'm at home a lot. The silver lining is that I've lots of articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please do let me know - Keith
...Why not sign up for our (ad free) Newsletter to keep informed about new articles and subscribe to my YouTube Channel


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