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Review update – Topaz Glow V2

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Review update – Topaz Glow V2

Add glow effects editing plugin from Topaz Labs

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Keith Cooper has looked at the latest version of ‘Glow’, a Topaz image processing plugin.

The plugin works as a standalone program or as a plugin.

In this review update, Keith tests it in Photoshop CS6 on an Apple Mac. It works almost identically on other platforms.

For more detail, especially if you are new to the software, see Keith’s original review of Topaz Glow.

Glow 2 is a free update for owners of version 1

Glow 2 requires Windows 7+, Mac OSX 10.9+, and a GPU with OpenGL 3.3 or higher

coffee clarity - glow plugin

What’s in V2

Glow is an interesting box of tricks, and even with V2 I have difficulty in concisely saying what it does.

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.

The changes from V1 are listed by Topaz labs as:

  • Over 30 New Presets – That brings the total to over 100.
  • New Masking Module -You no longer need a host editor like Photoshop to create masks on your images. Open Glow 2 and mask areas of your image directly from the application using luminosity, colour selection, a spot mask, or a traditional brush mask.
  • Unlimited Undo/Redo
  • Topaz Community Integration – Topaz Glow 2 is the 3rd of our products to include the Topaz Community, an easy way for users to search save and share custom made presets with other Glow 2 users around the world.
  • Automatic Preset Backup – as long as you’re signed into your account when you save a preset, that preset will be privately uploaded to the community then synced on any other machine you sign into.

Perhaps of greatest interest is the masking option. It’s where I’ve masked off the effect from my cup of coffee in the example above.

Using the Plugin

I’ll run through a few features and examples of the new software, but I’d definitely suggest that you run through the tour option every so often, to remind you that the program is about so much more than presets…

startup software tour

One quick reminder , that you need to run the program in standalone mode first, before using it as a plugin.

software setup requirements

Follow the process outlined and you will pick up what Glow can do much more easily.

basic effect selection

There are two stages of adding ‘glow’ to an image

adjusting initial image editig parameters

The second glow.

secondary editng adjsutments

Then adjust colours.

colour adjsutment for image

And now, still more effects…

It can easily feel a little overwhelming, but remember that not all adjustments make a big change, and that the change depends very much on image content.

image editng adjustments

Exploring options.

The split view option makes exploring different presets a bit easier – you can see what’s changing.

In the first example, I’ve some of the preset previews shown

effects shown with split view of original image

And later, some of the adjustment sliders

fine tuning editing adjustments

You can show a lot of different presets (note the small navigation window, showing part of the full image.

preserving fine detail

Note how things like lettering still works in some versions, but is lost in others.

luminous neon effect

You can always step back to the original image

original image with editing preset options and samples

A view of a local car park. This like all the examples here, was taken during my testing and review of the Laowa 12mm lens

Lines are intensified, whilst other detail is softened.

light application of filter, emphasising lines

The range of options is quite wide.

multiple image samples

The options are grouped into categories – so you don’t need the vast collection shown above.

subdivision of preset categories

A few examples from the car-park at Highcross in Leicester

Lines and colour.

strong coloured lines

A bit more detail

adding image detail

More detail and stronger colours

detail with bright colours

The bottle of drink that Karen had, when I had my coffee…

bottle f drink on table

A darker view (full version of a section shown earlier)

darker version of image

Fortunately, my coffee then arrived.

cup of coffee image


As well as a simple blend of filter opacity, which lets the original image show through, there are a number of more complex masking methods, and the ability to specify just how the effect is blended with the original image.

In the example below, the effect is masked off from my coffee, in the original photo.

editing effect masked to show original

The mask is simply painted in – white applies the effect, and black shows through the original.

image editing mask

A reversed version of this shows where I’m painting in the effect.

selective application of image filter

You can use the image content to set the masking (aka luminosity masking).

In this version, the effect is only applied to the darker parts of the image.

luminosity mask in use

This can also be based on image colour.

colour masking for image edit

Just one detail to finish with…

All these effects can be blended with the original image in a wide range of ways.

image edit blending modes

I’ve merely scratched the surface of what can be done.

There is a free demo of the software available – why not give it a go?


An update that speeds up and refines what was available in the original version of Glow.

It runs a bit faster on my Mac, but then again my graphics card was cutting edge several years ago. I note that it now requires at least OSX 10.9.

The masking options are most welcome, although I’m using the software with Photoshop. So, as long as I remember to duplicate the layer I’m working on before running Glow, I have all the masking I want. That said, it’s nice and simple to use in the plugin.

It’s now possible to undo adjustments and changes whilst editing, right back through your adjustments.

Another area that’s welcomed are the blending modes – all add to what you can change, but you will need to experiment to see what they really do.


As with other plugins that have embraced the ‘community’ idea, I have mixed feelings about its usefulness.

In the ‘What’s changed’ blurb, it’s put thusly…

“Surf an ocean of hand crafted presets, then download and apply with a click. Or share your custom presets for other users to try.”

The problem is that the ocean is a huge place and could easily lead to endless wandering about looking for ‘just a bit better’ or worse still from my own POV, not taking time to actually explore any of the fine tuning options of the software.

There are many ways of fine-tuning the action of the filters and these should be explored. Sorry if it upsets anyone, but if you like what Glow offers and then can’t be bothered to put a bit of effort in to learning about a filter like this, then perhaps it’s time you went back to instagram…

OK, a bit harsh, but I’d still suggest you give the software a good work-out before setting sail…

sharing presets for editing

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

Note Glow is now part of Topaz Studio


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.

Updated options and performance for a 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. New shared on-line repository for presets.

The system requirements have been raised to support the more complex processing.

System Requirements:

Glow 2 requires Windows 7+, Mac OSX 10.9+, and a GPU with OpenGL 3.3 or higher

There is more information at Topaz Labs

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