If you’re a long time Topaz user then I’m sure you remember Vivacity (no longer offered) and the neat stylized, curly effects that you could create with it. Well, with the right adjustments you can easily recreate these fun effects using Topaz Clean. Now the curly, stylized effect isn’t for every image…as it can be quite over-the-top. However, when used appropriately, you can create extraordinary effects that will add character and pizzazz to your image. You can also target key areas to apply the effect to – hair, eyes, jewelry and foliage are my favorite uses for it.

When creating your curly and stylized effects you can use the VStyle presets as a starting point, and then make some manual tweaks from there. You can click here to download the VStyle Presets.

When making manual adjustments, the key sliders you’ll want to use is the Strength slider (in the Clean tab) and the Accent, Radius and Sharpness sliders (in the Edges tab). The higher you set these sliders the more intense the effect will be.

1. You can increase the Texture slider (in the Texture tab) and this will return some of your image’s original texture and simmer down the intensity of the effect – to achieve a more natural appearance.

2. Targeting key features in your image is the best way (IMO) to use the curly and stylized effects. You can apply the effects to enhance features like hair and eyes in portraiture – use a layer mask in Photoshop to blend in/out any unwanted areas.

3. For thinner curls and swirls, lower the radius slider (in the Edges tab)

4. Adding a curly, stylized effect is also a great way to make use of a previously unusable image!

I would like to tell you more about feature within the DeNoise program that has caused some confusion for some – while going unnoticed for others. When you create a preset there is an option to set the preset type. Some have noticed that often when selecting a saved preset, the preset values that are loaded were not the same numbers as when the preset was saved. Here’s why…

When saving a preset in Topaz DeNoise, there is an option to select Relative to Noise Estimate or Absolute. The Absolute and Relative parameter settings determine how the parameter settings from your previous DeNoise session are viewed.

Under the Absolute setting, when you open DeNoise the slider values and noise removal will be set at the same exact values that were applied to the last image you processed with DeNoise. This is ideal if you plan to do batch processing and you have multiple images with the same ISO and characteristics.

Under the Relative setting, when you open DeNoise the slider values will shift and give you an estimate of the image and noise settings based on your last session – this is why your slider values will appear different.

Hope this information helps!

Photoshop has a lot of helpful features that go unused and unnoticed. Let’s take a quick look at how to get a better view of your layer thumbnails – this is one that I found very useful!

Most of our layers palette thumbnails look like the image on the left, but did you know that you can actually adjust the size of or even remove the thumbnails (shown on right)?

So how do you make this change in your program?

1. Go to your layers menu option

2. Select Panel Options

3. Under the Thumbnail Size category, select the thumbnail size of your choice and click OK

Having a larger preview can be better on the eyes and will often help when working with layer masks.

Many have noticed that in the new Star Effects™ 1.1 update (released 02.13.12) that there was a name change up in regards to the selective brush. Although no change in the functionality of the brush, the name change seems to have caused a little confusion for some users. I want to quickly explain what changed…and more importantly WHY it was changed.

The Star Settings tab in V1 looked like this:

The Star Settings tab in V1.1 looks like this:

What Changed…
Instead of the old Add/Remove options, version 1.1 is now rocking two new names: Hide/Show. As you might have guessed, Add (old name) = Show (new name) and Remove (old name) = Hide (new name).

Why The Change…
We made the decision to change the names to help clear up some confusion regarding the use and perceived functionality of the selective brush. The common misconception was that it could selectively add and remove stars (or other light/glow effects) anywhere in your image.

Unfortunately this is not quite the way it works. Topaz Star Effects™ creates the added effects based off of the existing light sources in your image. This means that you can not just click anywhere in your image and add an effect…you Must have an associated light source. So, the selective brush allows you to individually select which light sources in your image you want to apply the effect to.

With this in mind, we felt that the words “Add” and “Remove” did not accurately represent the purpose and function of the brush (instead it added confusion for users) so we decided to go with “Show” and “Hide”.

Keep in mind that when you select a preset (or make adjustments using the sliders), what is happening is that an effect is essentially being applied to all of the light source points in your image. However, using the Threshold slider (in the main adjustments tab) and/or the selective brush, you can determine which of your light source points actually reveal that applied effect.

So again, when using the selective brush, you are not adding new light source points for effects. Instead you are selecting which existing light source points (in your image) you want to be affected by (thus the show or hide) your applied effects.

In addition to star effects and a variety of lighting enhancements, the new Topaz Star Effects™ can also help you create glow in your images. Let’s take a quick look at how it easy it is to create glow effects.

The two main sliders you’ll use to create your glow effect are Glow (located in the Additional Effects tab) and Size (located in the Main Adjustments tab).

Original Image)

1. Use the Selective brush in the Star Settings tab to select your light sources. Set the brush to Show/Add to select more lights sources, and set the brush to Hide/remove to eliminate light sources.

2. Click on the light sources that you want to include/exclude.

3. Go to the Main Adjustments tab and adjust the following sliders:

– Set Luminance to 0

– Set Number of Points to 1

– Set the Spread to 0

– Adjust the Size slider until you are satisfied. The Size will control the size (radius) of the glow. A higher value will render a larger glow effect.

– Set Secondary Points to 0.

– Adjust the Glow slider until you are satisfied. Glow – Creates a glow from the center point of the star effect. A higher value increases the strength (appearance) of the glow.

Important: Both the Size and Glow sliders need to be increased in order to create and see the glow effect.

(After Glow)

Once you’ve create your initial Glow effect using the Size and Glow sliders, you can then add some finishing detail touches. Use the sliders in the Color Adjustments tabs to control the color of your effects. The Ring Flare slider (located in the Additional Effects tab) is also another great finishing touch.

(A little Adjust enhancement)