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Review – Topaz Glow V1

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Review – Topaz Glow V1

Image editing plugin for applying artistic effects



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Keith Cooper has looked at the Topaz image processing plugins in several reviews.

The plugin works as a standalone program or as a plugin. In this review, Keith tests it in Photoshop CS6 on an Apple Mac. It works almost identically on other platforms.

We’ve reviews of all Topaz software. See the Topaz Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.

bird head

Update: V1.0.1 fixes a problem with missing presets when Glow is used on non-admin accounts.

What does Topaz Glow do?

Buying  from Topaz Labs

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.

This latest plugin from Topaz labs is called ‘Glow’ and can apply a wide range of effects to an image.

The plugin is a bit difficult to characterise containing “more than 70 unconventional and quirky filters, with Glow you can alter your images using neon, graphic, liquid and other electrifying effects.”

It’s not dissimilar in its way of working from Topaz Impression, which I looked at recently.

It analyses your image for structural elements, particularly detail, edges and lines.

There are two main sets of controls for adding a ‘glow’ to the image, a primary and secondary set.

With other adjustments for colour and overall tonality, there are millions of combinations looking more or less different from your source.

Fortunately there are many preset options available, which give a quick way of testing the software and as starting points for what the settings can do.

This view of the Sonic Drive-in at Gunnison in Colorado has only a light application of the filter, but already has a very distinctive look.

Sonic at Gunnison, colorado. Picture processed with Topaz Glow

Using the Plugin

I’m just applying the image to existing images in Photoshop, but once you get a feel for how the filter works it would not be unreasonable to alter some aspects of your source image before processing, since the plugin does its work globally to your whole image and you can’t alter the effect in different areas of the image.

The software opens your image in a new window, and by default offers a number of preset adjustment sets to choose from.

Initial options available when opening the plugin

There are a number of before/after viewing options, such as this split view.

before and after split view of image

Or this side by side view.

side by side before and after views

There really is no better way to explore than to try out the presets on a number of different source images.

This version of the starling shows up how fine detail has a strong influence on results.

how detail affects the glow processing

Some options blend more of image content.

combined adjustments and blur

Whilst others look for linear detail

bringing out detail in the feathers of the starling

This photo of a lily has very little detail in it (note the inset full size image available when you are zoomed in)

a view of a flower pick out mostly detail and edges

A more detailed view.

detail and structure in a lilly flower

The presets are all grouped by style

grouping of preset image adjustments

Some examples from the ‘Neon’ collection.

adding a neon glow to images

Versions created from the presets are quite different and that’s before you go near the actual fine adjustment sliders.

I would normally suggest going through such filter options from the top, adjusting each in succession, but they all interact, so it’s going to be very hit and miss to start with.

One annoying thing that caught me out is the lack of an undo or history feature, so unless you save settings as a preset, there is no going back to the ‘nice effect I had from ten minutes ago”…

If you click on the starting adjustment name, it reverts all setting to that preset. The star next to the name shows that it has been altered from its initial settings.

image adjustment sliders

Looking at a more usual photo of a building shows big difference from the bird photo.

Some more examples from the Sonic that used to be in Gunnison.

Glow type – Move your mouse over the image to see the effect.

Original ImageHover Image

Glow setting – Move your mouse over the image to see the effect.

Original ImageHover Image

The results of the filter can be applied to the original image in a number of ways, or ‘blending modes’

I’d normally do this with layers in Photoshop, but it gives another variety of options if you’re using a simpler form of image editor or working with the stand-alone program.

Original ImageHover Image

I’ll round off with a few more preset examples.

the 'blazing neon' effect

A bit less abstract.

brilliant fibres effect

A softer look

the 'dream' preset

Enhancing line detail

structure created from linear elements in the image

Hopefully that gives a feel for what you can do with this plugin.

Conclusions

Buying  from Topaz Labs

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.

An interesting plugin to try out, given my normal styles of photography.

I love the effects, but just can’t think of any particular personal use for them, but I know that a lot of people do like manipulating and altering photos though.

For greatest flexibility I’d want to use the plugin on multiple layers, so that I could alter the type and amount of effect applied to different parts of the image, but that’s something you really need to do in Photoshop.

The plugin works quickly, but with really high resolution images expect to wait a bit for what is very complex processing.

For me, missing features are primarily, any history options and the lack of a setting to return the results of the filter as a new layer in Photoshop, but this is V1.0 of the software.

If you like giving a very different feel to images out of your camera (or phone) then give the free demo a look.

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.

Move your mouse over the image below to see a very different view of this Pacific sunset…

Original ImageHover Image

Summary

Software plugin that can apply a wide range editing effects to your images

Many preset image styles, and adjustments give a huge range of options/

System Requirements:
  • Mac OS X 10.8+
  • Windows 7+ x64, OpenGL 3.2

There is more information at Topaz Labs

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