A couple of days ago I posted a shot I had edited using a Photoshop plug-in, Topaz Simplify. Several people seemed to want to know more about this plug-in so here’s a post sharing my experience. The top image was processed using Simplify. Below is the unsimplified version.
You can see that the colours in the processed version are more saturated and the light seems more ethereal, less contrasty. More particularly, the trees have taken on what I call a stained glass effect, seen more clearly in this zoomed in detail:
Thus, Topaz Simplify has the effect of making images more painterly. I found that it was particularly effective in images of trees, simplifying the detail in foliage and branches to create an overall impression that can sometimes be lost in the clutter of a more realistic image. In other words, it helps the viewer see the wood for the trees.
As you can see in this image from Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, Simplify boosts the saturation without introducing digital artefacts. In fact, I found it to be an effective way to achieve a seamless high-saturation effect even in images where I didn’t require the painterly look, simply by selecting ‘saturation’ blending mode for the Topaz layer in the layers panel, as demonstrated in the image of Bryce Canyon below:
Once uploaded from the website, Topaz Simplify is very easy to use from Photoshop. There are many video tutorials available but I didn’t need them. If I can do it, anyone can! Everything works with sliders and you can see the effects on previews of the image as you work. You can use just a touch of the plug-in or go all out, or any degree in between.
Unfortunately, Adobe Bridge kept crashing while I was using Topaz Simplify but I have not heard of anyone else having this problem. Certainly, the surreal effects you can achieve with this plug-in are not for everyone, or every image. But it is a lot of fun.
Topaz Simplify, and all other Topaz plug-ins can be downloaded for a free month’s trial. So you can experiment to your heart’s content without risk.