So while you’ve been getting familiar with the redesigned interface layout and new preset features in each Topaz program, you may have also noticed that the “Import from Internet” option is no longer available.  Now, as an avid Topaz user myself, I know that presets are a very popular part of the Topaz dynamic.  While the Import from Internet function is not frequently used it can still come in handy every once in a while.

So let’s take a look at two ways that we can still get presets downloaded from the internet and into our favorite Topaz programs.

The first way is to visit the website hosting the preset and download it.  When you download, save the preset to your desktop – so that you can easily access it – and make sure that the file extension is .tpp (for example: “adjustpreset.tpp”).  Then open your Topaz program, click “Import” and then navigate to your desktop to select the downloaded preset file.

The second way you can get internet presets from websites is to right-click (control-click if your are on a Mac) on the preset download link and select “Open URL”.  This will then open a new web browser window.  Now, don’t let the preset style information scare you.  All you will need to do is go up to file and select “Save Page As” and then remove the .xml format from the end of the file name.  So the file name should now end in .tpp.  After that, open up your Topaz program, click “Import” and then navigate to your desktop to select the downloaded preset file.

And that’s it!  So if you have any questions or comments about the new interface design or any of the Topaz program features please let us know.

This post was originally posted on October 15, 2010

Many Topaz users, including myself, have tons of presets…especially in Adjust.  In the past we have received many questions and requests regarding the disabling of preset processing at start up.  If you would have asked us this last week, then it would not yet be possible…but with the newly enhanced upgrades, it is now possible to disable preset preview processing  – substantially reducing the startup time of your Topaz programs.

Adjust, DeNoise, Simplify, Clean, Detail and DeJPEG now all feature a “Hide” button underneath the preset preview window.  Clicking this button will hide the preset preview window and disable the preset processing.  This means the next time you start up that particular program, you will not have to wait for the presets to process.  And your selection will be remembered each time you use that Topaz program.

If you decide to change your preset preview preference at a later time, you can do so by clicking the same button, which will now read “Show”.  Once you reopen the preset preview window, your presets will begin processing, allowing you immediate access to preview.

So if you are eager to reduce the startup time of your Topaz programs, this is a great new feature to take advantage of.  If you do not have the upgraded bundle programs, you can download from here now. Remember, all upgrades are free to existing users!

Users often ask if they are able to selectively adjust portions of their image with Topaz plug-ins, leaving the rest of their image untouched.  The answer is yes…you can make selective adjustments to your images. We will explore one of those ways here…

First, as always, you need to make a copy of your Background layer and make all adjustments to that Background Copy layer.  Next, make a selection using Photoshop’s Quick Selection or Marquee tools.  Then invoke the Topaz program you would like to use.  The adjustments that you make in the program will be applied to the selected area only.  Below, you can see a step by step process using Topaz Adjust on only a selected portion of an image.

This first image is the original.  I was happy with the bottom portion of the image (the sandy area), but wanted the landscaped barrier/hill and sky to pop a bit more.  My first step was to make a copy of my background layer.

Then, while on the background copy layer, I used the quick selection tool in Photoshop to grab only the sky and landscaped barrier/hill.  Note the bottom portion is NOT selected.

I then went to the Filters menu in Photoshop and chose Topaz Adjust 4.  When Adjust opened, it only brought the selected area into the program.

After making my adjustments in Adjust, I clicked OK.  Back in Photoshop, I see the selcted area is the only part affected by my changes.

After making some finishing touches and reducing the opacity of my adjusted area, I have my final image.

Using a Topaz plug-in on certain selections only can be very useful, whether trying to eliminate noise in a dark sky using Topaz DeNoise (and not touching the other areas of your image) or only needing a certain area of your image adjusted (like above).

There are additional ways that you can make selective adjustments to your image with Topaz…ReMask works very well for this.  We will explore some other selective adjustment techniques in the coming weeks.  If you’re ready to jump into it now then check out the selective adjustment tutorials on the ReMask tutorials page at: www.topazlabs.com/tutorials/remask

Please feel free to leave your comments and tell us your workflow for making selective adjustments.

Topaz Adjust’s ability to bring more local contrast and dynamic range to an image is made possible by the Regions slider.  The Regions slider determines how your Adaptive Exposure selection is disbursed across your image.  The value of the Regions slider determines how many regions to divide your image to. So how are regions determined and what exactly do they do to an image? Let’s take a look.

How Regions affect your image
As you increase the Adaptive Exposure slider, you are stretching the color and increasing the contrast in the image and applying it to each of the regions. Less regions will give your image a flatter look.

As you begin to increase the number of regions in your image you will notice more variations of color, detail and the appearance of depth in your image.

Determining a Region

For each image, take the longest side, whether horizontal or vertical…divide this side into sections. How many sections is determined by the region slider. Then, using those sections divide the image into squares.  Each square is considered a region, and the contrast is then adjusted in that local region (based on the pixels).

What’s unique about Adjust’s Regions is that even as you increase the amount of Regions, Adjust blends the boundaries of those Regions so that you can not detect where one ends and the next begins.

So let’s take a closer look at Regions in action so we can see just how they work.  Please follow along with the examples below.

For the first set of images, the adaptive exposure is set at .4, and the only slider moved was the regions slider.

Original Image

Adaptive Exposure: .4; Regions: 1; When the Region is 1, the entire image is the region.

Now I will change the Regions to 7 – this shows how the regions are determined:

Adaptive Exposure: .4; Regions: 7

For this next set of images, Adaptive Exposure will stay at .5, and the only slider moved will be the Regions slider.

Original Image

The standard setting for regions is 4…here is what that would look like:

Adaptive Exposure: .5; Regions: 4

Then I changed my Regions to 40…

Adaptive Exposure: .5; Regions: 40

Although we do not currently offer a program specifically for portraiture, Topaz Clean can actually help you easily achieve great skin cleaning techniques.  So if you want to do some quick and easy skin cleanup, or if you like the almost airbrushed look that you see in portraiture or fashion photography, then you might find Topaz Clean helpful in your workflow.

So let’s take a look at what Topaz Clean can do.  Topaz Clean is a texture adjustment program that allows you to:

– adjust texture
– smooth features
– flatten detail
– enhance edges
– create over-sharpened and stylized effects

Topaz Clean can reduce fine lines, wrinkles and blemishes by allowing you to adjust the texture and smoothness – which is ideal for achieving even skin appearance. What makes Topaz Clean unique is that it can also preserve major facial features and tiny but important skin detail.

The Clean program offers three tabs that you can use to create your desired skin effects.  The  Clean tab flattens texture, smooths the image and removes weaker details.  The Edges tab allows you to enhance and stylize the edges in your image – be sure not to over-apply any of the parameters here.  Finally, the Texture tab allows you to reintroduce some of the original texture and detail back into your image to ensure a natural look.  The program also includes a Skin Even preset which works as a great starting point for your skin adjustments.

So, here is an example of skin cleanup with Topaz Clean:

As you can see, the after image features a more balanced and smooth skin completion that still retains her facial structure and defining characteristics.  The cleaning effects here are minimal, however you are welcome to smooth your images as much or as little as you would like.  This is an example of a very basic cleanup. You can increase your cleaning effects to a much further degree for a smoother and more magazine-like effect.

Here is a quick overview of how to use Clean in your workflow.

  1. Create a duplicate layer
  2. Use your Photoshop quick selection tool to select just the face
  3. Invoke Topaz Clean and make your adjustments.  Start with the sliders in the Clean tab and work your way down in order.
  4. Click OK to process your changes and save back to Photoshop

Back in Photoshop, you may notice two things:

First, your image may look slightly desaturated.  If so, you can increase the saturation using your Photoshop Saturation tool. To do this go to: Layer – New Adjustment Layer -> Hue / Saturation and slightily increase the Saturation slider to restore the color saturation in your image.

Second, you may notice that areas such as the eyes, lips or eye brows have lost too much detail.  We can restore that detail using a layer mask and the following workflow:

  1. Add a layer mask (reveal all) to the layer just processed in Topaz Clean.
  2. Select your brush tool and the desired brush size.
  3. Set your foreground color to black.
  4. Using your brush tool (in combination with your opacity level), paint in the areas of the eyebrows, eyes and lips.  This will begin to reveal features from the original background layer below and restore needed detail.

Stay tuned for a more in depth tutorial on using Topaz Clean for portraiture.  Let us know you’re thoughts below.