There seems to be just a little confusion about the way the new Topaz Star Effects works, which is causing some hiccups in some user’s workflows.

So I wanted to take a moment to review how Star Effects works, answer some reoccurring questions and also to let you know about some enhancements in the works.

How It Works
The most important thing to remember about Star Effects is that it works in conjunction with your image’s light sources. Any stars, glow or other lighting enhancements that you create are added to your existing light source points. What does this mean to your workflow? It means that stars/lighting enhancements can only be added to existing light sources, bright points and reflective surfaces (this can also include areas of white) in your image. You can not create effects where light source points do not exist.

One of the common misconceptions about the program is regarding use of the Add/Remove Star brush. (If the original explanation during the introduction of this tool has helped cause some of this confusion then please accept my apology.) The purpose of the Star Brush is to give you additional flexibility and control over which light sources in your image are affected. Using the brush tool, you can individually select or deselect light sources. The Star Brush tool does not allow you to click on just any part of your image (without a light source) to create a star effect; you must already have an existing light source.


(The flames of the candles are the light sources in the image above and this is where any created effects would be added to. Because there is also a reflective area above and around the candles effects could also be added to these light source points as well.)

Creating Effects in Images Without a Light Source
Now for those that want to add a star where there is not an existing light source, all is not lost. There is actually a way that you can quickly accomplish this. Using your brush tool in Photoshop, you can add create a light source point and then enhance it in Star Effects. Click here to learn more.

Controlling Light Sources
The next important thing to understand is how light sources in your image are selected and controlled. When you open the Star Effects program and click on a preset, the predefined settings will be applied to select light sources in your image. Keep in mind that presets will affect each of your images differently and you’ll need to use the adjustment sliders to tweak the settings – mainly the Luminance and Size (located in the Main Adjustments tab).


(White arrows have been added to point out some of the key light sources, however these are not the only sources that can be affected. Bright points and reflective sources can also be considered light source points.)

Now which and how many light sources are affected will vary from image to image depending on the prominence of the light source. The value of the Threshold slider (located in the Main Adjustments tab) will also affect this. By adjusting the Threshold slider you can determine how many of your image light sources are affected. Increasing the Threshold will affect less light sources and decreasing it will affect more light sources.

Star Brush Selection
In addition to the Threshold slider, you also have access to a Star Brush (located in the Star Settings tab). The Star Brush gives you the ability to select additional light sources in your image to add or remove the effect from. So for example, if you used a preset (and have already adjusted the Threshold slider) but there is still a light source that did not get enhanced the go to the Star Settings tab to select the Add Star brush and then click on the light source you want to include. Likewise, you can use Remove Star Brush and click on a light source to exclude. Again, this tool’s purpose is to select light sources to add or remove the effect to, and Not to create a star in an unlit place in your image.

Note: So again, keep in mind that when you click on a preset it may not automatically go to go to a specific light source that you want. It is going to be applied to a variety of light sources in the image – depending on what your threshold slider is set to. Adjust your Threshold slider and use the brush tool for additional selectivity.

Repositioning Effects
If your added effects are not exactly where you want them (in conjunction with your light source) then you can use the Remove brush tool to eliminate that effect and then switch to the Add brush tool to re-add it. Currently there are not any additional controls that allow you to nudge or realign effects, however we have several users that have experienced some difficulty with the positioning of effects around their source light. So our developers are actually working on an enhancement to help with this so that we can offer more positioning control. I will keep you updated on the progress and availability of this.

Dealing With Double Stars
If your light sources are rendering double stars (where you only want a single effect) then try this…
Use the brush tool to remove added effects first (after selecting a preset) and then select a smaller brush size and click on the light source that you want to add the effect to and this should help resolve the double star issue.

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