One of the neat things about digital photography and post-processing is that your creativity is limitless. Everyday I receive questions about workflows and techniques used to create different effects with Topaz. Today I want to share with you a quick and fun way to create cartoon-like images using your Topaz programs. Now, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to achieve this type of effect and this is just one of many ways. Also, as you are following along, keep in mind that you can adjust your settings more or less to perfect the optimal look that is right for your image. So let’s get started!

Above is an overview of my image transition. This was created using Simplify, Clean and Adjust. Now let’s break it down.

STEP ONE
The first thing I did was take my image into Topaz Simplify and applied the BuzSim preset. The preset simplifies the image by removing detail and saturates the image color. Manual adjustments were also made in the Simplify and Edges tabs. The parameters that were manually changed are as follows:

Simplify Tab:
1. Simplify Size decreased to 0.20
2. Feature Boost was increased to 0.28
3. Details Strength was increased to 0.10
4. Details Size was increased to 0.25

Edges Tab
1. Reduce Small was decreased to 0.13

When working on your images, be sure to play around with all of the settings until you find the right fit. Click OK to save the changes.

 

STEP TWO
The next thing that I did was take the image into Topaz Clean and apply the CrispStyle preset. Using the preset, we were able to smooth out the image, reduce just a bit of texture and stylize the edges and lines. Manual adjustments were also made in each of the tabs. The parameters that were manually changed are as follows:

Edges Tab
1. Sharpness increased to 1.65

Texture Tab
1. Texture decreased to 0.15
2. Boost decreased to 1.10

Again, when working on your images, experiment with the sliders. Click OK to save the changes.

You can already see the cartoon effect starting to take shape. You may find that you are happy with the effect after applying Topaz Simplify and Topaz Clean and that is OK. However, for this image I decided to take it one step further by running it through Topaz Adjust – which is one of my favorite programs.

STEP THREE

Now, the last set of adjustments were created in Topaz Adjust just to give it a little POP! The preset that I used in Adjust is one of my personal ones that I created. I will provide the settings used so that you can have it as well. If you like the preset then be sure to save it in your Adjust program after setting the parameters for your image.

The parameters are as follows:

Exposure Tab
1. Adaptive Exposure: 0.56
2. Regions: 32
3. Contrast: 1.07
4. Brightness: 0.09
5. Highlight: 0.00
6. Shadow: 0.04

Details Tab
1. Strength: 1.31
2. Boost: 1.21
3. Threshold: 0.18
4. Radius: 28.00
5. Sharpen: 1.02
(Process details independent of exposure is NOT checked)

Color Tab
1. Adaptive Saturation: 0.14
2. Regions: 15
3. Saturation: 1.31
4. Saturation Boost: 1.23
5. Hue: 0.00

Noise Tab
1. Suppression: 0.40
2. Amount: 0.75
(Use Topaz DeNoise IS checked)

If you want to save this preset then go to the presets panel on the left side of your interface and click “Save” then give it any name that you’d like!

Be sure to make adjust the parameters as needed to perfect your image. Once you are happy with your adjustments, click OK to process your image. And that’s it!

 

Of course this is just one example of the many types of effects that you can achieve in during post processing. All you need is an image and a little bit creativity. If you want to learn more about creating cool effects and other ways to incorporate to use Topaz in your workflow then be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming webinars. Details will be available online at: www.topazlabs.com/webinars

This post was originally posted on February 18, 2011

Yes, you can mask without cutting your actual image (also known as non-destructive editing). By adding a layer mask in Photoshop before invoking ReMask, your changes will be made to your layer mask and will preserve your original image. The benefit of this, of course, is that your original image remains intact. Also, you can later remove the layer mask entirely – if desired.

You can enable the layer mask feature manually or automatically. Let’s take a look at how it’s done.

To use the manual workflow, go to your Layers palette in Photoshop and make sure that the image layer you want to mask is selected. Then look at the bottom of the Layers Palette for the “Add Layer Mask” button (it is a shaded square with a white circle in the middle). Once you click on this button, you will see a white square (represents the layer mask) added to the right of your image thumbnail in your layers palette.

Be sure that the image thumbnail (not the mask thumbnail) is selected before invoking ReMask.

Then go into ReMask and follow your normal masking workflow. Once you click “OK” to save your work back to Photoshop, it will save your cutout to the layer mask that you previously applied.

To use the automatic workflow, go to your Menu -> Preference in ReMask and click the box next to “Enable Use-Layer-Mask”. So now, whenever you go to Filter -> Topaz Labs and select ReMask, a layer mask will automatically added to your image layer before the ReMask interface opens. Then in ReMask follow your normal masking workflow, and once you click “OK” to save your work back to Photoshop, it will save your cutout to the layer mask that was automatically applied.

Masked image with changes saved to layer mask.

This post was originally posted on February 12, 2011

Yes, the new ReMask 3.1 allows you to save your mask / tri-map mid-workflow…making the masking process with ReMask even more flexible and easy to work with. This new save option is found in your ReMask menu. So let’s take a look at it.

So if you are in the middle of the masking process and want to save your tri-map/mask currently in progress so that you can return at a later time, simply go to Menu -> Save.

Name your file and select a safe place on your computer to save the file.

Your saved tri-map/mask will be saved as a .tiff and will appear in this format

Later, when you are ready to finish up your image, you can load that previously saved tri-map/mask to finish your editing. To do this simply open the original image file (Must be the original image with the same file name and also is Not your saved ReMask tiff) in Photoshop (or your other compatible editing program) and invoke ReMask. Once ReMask opens go to Menu -> Load and select your saved tri-map/mask that you saved to your computer in the .tiff format

Please note that you Must have the original image that pairs up with the selected mask in order to load it. If your loaded image does not match up to the tri-map/mask that you are trying to load then you will see the message below:

After that, you can complete your mask/extraction in ReMask and then click OK to save it back to Photoshop. From there you can make any additional adjustments or enhancements you desire.

This post was originally posted on February 4, 2011

 

 

ReMask 3.1, FREE upgrade with NEW Features

We would like to thank everybody for the feedback on the new ReMask 3! Through your comments and suggestions, we were able to find more ways to improve upon ReMask 3, and are pleased to announce the release of ReMask 3.1. A FREE upgrade to existing users, ReMask 3.1 addresses known bugs, produces higher mask quality and includes many new features requested by users:

  • Increased speed and quality in foreground recovery processing – now twice as fast!.
  • Improved Magic brush performance.
  • New menu items to save and load trimap and mask, allowing users to save and re-start partial results.
  • And much more…

For those that are not familiar with the software, Topaz ReMask 3 is considered by many as the most effective and easy way to extract complex objects, such as hair and wedding veils. It also greatly simplifies some common photography and design tasks, such as background replacement and selective adjustments.

If you missed the discount during the initial ReMask 3 release, you can still get it for only $49.99 until February 18, 2011. This $20 discount can be applied towards the Topaz Bundle or Bundle Upgrades as well – Just enter the coupon code “BetterMask” when purchasing.

This post was originally posted on January 27, 2011

For me, working with ReMask has been the quickest and easiest way to achieve my masking needs for selective adjustments and background replacement. However, I’m sure you will agree, that the faster and better your tools work, the quicker you can get off the computer and get back to shooting. So today I want to share a few tricks with you, that I use in my personal workflow, on how to speed up the ReMask 3 masking process.

A little background information….
ReMask is able to create masks and extractions be analyzing the colors in each of the three selections (red, green and blue) you make when creating your tri-map. So the more colors you sample the better your initial mask will be.

My workflow tips:
1. I make it a habit to sample as many colors in my image as red (cut) or green (keep) when creating my tri-map…this also means less refining at the end.

2. I use a smaller brush size when making my blue outline…it doesn’t have to be precise but smaller tends to work better for me.

3. I also mark red or green in areas with gaps or openings (where the background shows through….I call it dead space). Such as between branches and fingers. Thus minimizing the amount of blue in my tri-map.

So when I am marking more of my image as red or green, I am essentially limiting the amount of blue (compute) selection in my image. The reason behind this is that:

An abundance of blue may result in longer tri-map processing times
An abundance of blue often leaves more areas in need of refining at the end

This example shows my tri-map results when using a larger blue outline with more green and red selections. As you can see, my initial results are OK, but there is a lot more refinement to be done.
 

This example shows my tri-map results when using a smaller blue outline with more green and red selections. As you can see my initial results are more precise and there is less refinement to be done.
Now, if you are working on smaller images, then there is a second way that you can also speed up the computing process…this is found in your Menu -> Preferences. Here you will find a high / low quality compute option.

Using the High Quality (slow) option will process your larger images slower, however your final processed image will have better quality. The default setting (when unchecked) is Draft qual ity (fast) which will process your larger images faster, however you could see blurring or distortion of fine edges.

Happy Masking!
This post was originally posted on January 14, 2011