Topaz Impression 2 is a fun way to create beautiful images that are artistic, soft, & romantic or loud, bold, & extreme. It turns photographs into works of art with various combinations of brush strokes, surface effects, and more. By using internal adjustments, presets, and settings, it’s simple to use Impression 2 to enhance your images.
Today we’ll cover how it can be used to enhance photographs of pets and animals. This tutorial will showcase effects that will compliment subject matter that has soft features such as fur and feathers but will also show how masking can enhance details such as eyes, teeth, and other sharp parts of your subject.
Learn how to accomplish the following in this tutorial:
- Getting started with Impression 2
- How to create an effect from start to finish in Impression 2
- Use Masking to enhance details such as eyes and teeth
- Save and share an effect in Impression 2
In this tutorial I’ll be using an image of my Golden Retriever, which you can download here. I really like this picture of my Golden. He’s having a great time with his favorite thing: a stick! Impression will help turn this snapshot into a work of art.
I’ll also show a few examples of how the final saved preset can easily be used with similar images.
Let’s get started!
1. Getting Started
Impression 2 can run as a stand alone application which means you do not need a host editor such as Photoshop. We’ll start by opening the program as a stand alone application. Once the application is open and ready you can go to the Menu, select File, select Open, and then open your desired image.
Remember, it’s best to use JPG, TIFF, or PNG images as these are the files Topaz supports in stand alone mode.
Impression 2 will immediately give you a preview of the featured presets. For this tutorial we want to start from scratch. To do so, select Reset in the top right hand corner. You will notice that your image still has an effect. The reason for this is that the default brush stroke is still selected.
2. Adjust Stroke
Goldens are happy, fun, and inquisitive dogs. They’re also really furry. I want to accentuate the image with a fluid painterly effect that will soften the overall picture and soften the fur coloring and detail.
The first adjustments we are going to set is for Stroke. The adjustments we are going to make will create a painterly effect to the image.
- Stroke Settings
- Brush – Type 15
- Number of Strokes – Medium
- Brush Size – 0.50
- Paint Volume – 0.05
- Paint Opacity – 0.50
- Stroke Rotation – 0.00
- Rotation Variation – 0.00
- Stroke Color Variation – 0.00
- Stroke Width – -0.90
- Stroke Length – 0.50
- Spill – -0.15
- Smudge – 0.10
- Coverage – 0.60
- Coverage Transition – 0.40
3. Adjust Color
The next adjustment is for Color. I want this image to be impressionistic in style simply because that is my favorite movement in art history. I want this image to have the same feel as a 19th century painting so I want to tone down the color. This adjustment will make the overall image darker and will make the saturation less vivd.
- Color: All
- Overall Hue – 0.00
- Overall Saturation – -0.05
- Overall Lightness – -0.26
4. Adjust Lighting
I think the image should be more dynamic and draw the eye to the subject matter and have less focus on the grass background. By adjusting the brightness and contrast while using the vignette option you will see your image become more dynamic, too.
- Brightness – 0.15
- Contrast – 0.65
- Highlight – 0.00
- Shadow – 0.00
- Light Position
- X – 1.00
- Y – 1.00
- Vignette – 0.45
- Vignette Strength – 1.00
- Vignette Transition – 0.51
- Vignette Roundness – 1.00
- Vignette Color – Black
- Vignette Center*
- X – 0.00
- Y – 0.00
*Adjust your Vignette Center as necessary for your image.
5. Adjust Texture
Adjusting the Texture will allow you to select a textured base surface. Adding texture to your image is a great way to enhance the painterly effect Impression 2 offers. For this image I’ll use a subtle texture but you can always select a different effect and make it your own. Try out a canvas option for a more intense effect!
- Texture Strength – 0.50
- Texture Size – -0.28
- Texture – Paper IX
- Background Type – Original
6. Save as a Preset
Want to save these adjustments as a preset? Once you’re happy with your adjustments, click the Save button in the upper right hand corner. Here you can enter a name for your effect. You can also pick any relevant categories you feel it fits under. Saving your Preset will add it to My Effects, allowing you to access it anytime you are logged in. By selecting Favorite the effect will also be added to your list of favorite effects.
If you’ve created an effect you love, be sure to save your effect to make applying and tweaking that look even easier!
7. Adjust Masking
Your image is almost complete! I like to use the masking feature to enhance the details of my image. Select Brush and double check to make sure your have selected Brush and Black. Set the Radius by using the slider. Select a size that works for you. Change the Strength to about 0.20 or 0.25. Impression 2 helps you create artistic works from photographs so we don’t want to drastically mask it away. By selecting a low strength we can control the amount of detail that we pull back into the image.
My settings are as follows:
- Brush Tab
- Radius – 0.30
- Strength – 0.25
- Hardness – 0.30
- Color Aware – No
In this subtle before and after comparison you can see a little more detail in the eye area including the highlight of the pupil and more defined eyelashes. Eyes are a very distinctive trait and I don’t want to lose the sharpness and color of my Golden’s eye. Masking is a great way to lightly tone down an effect.
I like to do this step last because Masking is specific to each individual image.
8. Save Your Image
The adjustments are now complete. We’ve taken this casual backyard picture to a work of art worthy of display! You can make any adjustments to this tutorial by using the sliders within Topaz Impression 2.
Save your image by selecting Apply Changes located in the bottom right hand corner of the program. Saving your image will overwrite the original file and close the application.
9. Share with the Community
Your unique preset, which we saved in Step 6, can be shared to the Community! The Community is a fun feature where you can search and find custom handmade effects by users just like you and a space where you can share your own. You will see the Share Button in the bottom right corner of your Preset. Simply click this button to activate your effect in the Community. You will notice the icon will change the Share icon to an X.
To see your effect live in the Community, simply click the Browse button.
Then, from the drop down menu, select Community to browse shared effects.
You can then scroll through all effects, organize effects, or search by your own effect name. You can organize effects by using the Sort feature and you can select style types by using the drop down menu. Searching by names is easy as well. Simply type in a few key letters or word to the Search Bar and press Enter.
If you would like to have quick access to this effect, you can download my preset from the community! Simply search Paint Your Pet.
Before & After Gallery
About Jodi L. Robbins
Jodi has been an artist and photographer for over 15 years, starting with classical studio training before turning to black and white film photography and alternative processing. After completing her BFA in Studio Art from Southern Methodist University and her Masters in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked in product photography for companies such as Heritage Auctions, Neiman Marcus, and the Dallas Cowboys. She is currently the Art Director of Topaz Labs.