Topaz Glow 2 is a great way to create unique images with illumination and energetic sparks of light. You can create vibrant, beautiful images with easy to use pre-made effects or you can create your own. By using internal adjustments, ready-made effects, and settings, it’s simple to use Glow 2 to enhance images in a variety of ways!

But did you know Glow 2 can be used in a subtle way to enhance images?

This tutorial will cover the subtle way Glow 2 can be used to compliment one of my favorite subjects: cars, boats, and motorcycles. This tutorial will showcase effect adjustments that will compliment subject matter that has reflective and glassy surfaces. If you’d like to try this tutorial out for yourself you can use your own image of a car or download a practice image here. You can also find the practice image in Resources.

Learn how to accomplish the following in this tutorial:

  • Getting started with Glow 2
  • Use Glow 2 to give vibrancy to your images
  • Use Glow 2 to enhance color
  • Save an effect in Glow 2
  • Share an effect to the Community

In this tutorial I’ll be using an image of a classic Mustang and I’ll also provide a few examples of how the final saved effect can easily be saved and used with similar images.

Let’s get started!

1. Getting Started with Photoshop

Setting up Layers in PhotoshopAfter opening my image in Photoshop, the first thing I did was duplicate my background layer. I renamed the Background Layer to Original. I then renamed the second layer to Touch-Up.

You will notice that the original image I am using for this tutorial has some inconsistencies in the pavement. I went ahead and used the Clone tool and the Spot Healing Brush tool to touch these areas up on the Touch-Up layer. I also removed the car club association decals in the windshield to make the finished product cleaner. This image is going to be slick and vibrant so I don’t want any flaw or distractions. 

Afterward, I copied the Touch-Up layer and named it Glow. 

Glow is the layer we will be using with the Topaz Glow 2 plug-in.

Why have layers? Having layers will allow you to revert back to your original image, control layer opacity levels, use blending modes, and more in Photoshop.

Check out the Before and After:


2. Getting Started with Glow 2

If you haven’t already, select the layer named Glow in Photoshop. Now we are ready to roll!

To open your image in Glow 2 simply select Filter from your Menu bar, then select Topaz Labs, then Topaz Glow 2… You will now see your image opened with the application.

Glow will immediately give you a preview of the featured effects. For this tutorial we want to start from scratch. To do so, select Edit in the top right hand corner and then Reset.

Select Parameters in the top right corner:


Select Reset:


Right now your settings are reset to factory settings.

3. Opacity and Blend Mode

Opacity and Blend Mode are great tools for changing the look of your image and effect from subtle to intense. For this tutorial we want to subtly enhance the image. The first adjustment we want to make is going to be Opacity and Blend Mode, located in the bottom right corner of the screen.


  • Opacity – 70%
  • Blend Mode – Saturation

4. Primary Glow Adjustments

The first adjustments we are going to set is for Primary Glow. Cars look really beautiful with rich colors, sharp focus, and strong black details. My main goal for car photography is to showcase the details and forms that the designer created. The adjustments we are going to make are going to brighten the overall image, provide greater saturation, and smooth out paint and chrome details.


  • Glow Type – Dark
  • Glow Strength – 0.35
  • Effect Sharpness – 0.30
  • Electrify – 0.25
  • Simplify Details – 0.20
  • Edge Color – 0.25
  • Detail Strength – 0.00
  • Brightness – 0.75
  • Contrast – 0.50
  • Saturation – 0.20
  • Line Rotation – 0.00
  • Glow Spread – 0.10

Right now your image should look very vivid with more contrast. The settings we have applied for Primary Glow are going to enhance the color of the overall image.

If you want to see the difference between your Original image and the image with Primary Glow adjustments you can either press the space bar on your keyboard, click and hold on the image with your mouse, or select the icon in the window that says Original. If you click on the Original icon then your image will show the original image until you deselect it. To deselect the original simply click on the icon again. If you are ever unsure about what is being displayed you can look for the text overlay that reads ORIGINAL.

What a Difference Primary Glow Makes:


5. Secondary Glow Adjustments

Your image should be looking colorful with more contrast now. The next adjustment we are going to do is for Secondary Glow. This adjustment is going to further enhance brightness, contrast, and saturation.


  • Glow Type – Light
  • Glow Strength – 0.00
  • Effect Sharpness – 0.25
  • Electrify – 0.10
  • Simplify Details – 0.0
  • Brightness – 0.00
  • Contrast – 0.25
  • Saturation – 0.05

After applying the Secondary Glow adjustments you should really see the paint color pop!

Secondary Glow:


6. Color Adjustments

Now let’s adjust the Color. Adjusting the color will allow your image to be even more vibrant and to enhance the viewing experience by adding more excitement through overall saturation.


  • Overall Hue – 0.00
  • Overall Saturation – 0.05
  • Overall Lightness – 0.00

I’m not happy with the saturation! If your image is too saturated or if you have a model or person in the image, the saturation might be too intense. Or maybe you’d like the image to be even more saturated? Use the Opacity Slider at the bottom of the screen to make the adjustment work for you!

Color Adjustments:


7. Finishing Touches Adjustments

Let’s move on the the Finishing Touches. The adjustments we are going to make will sharpen the overall image.


  • Effect Coverage – 0.00
  • Smudge – 0.05
  • Sharpness – 0.05
  • Sharp Radius – 0.00
  • Vignette Size – 0.00








Finishing Touches Adjustments:


8. Opacity and Blend Mode, Again

Your image should be crisp and colorful with a subtle contrast change. The adjustments we made today are simple enhancements to enrich the image, not to change it drastically. 


I like it but I want a stronger look! If you would like to have a more intense look, try adjusting your Opacity. If you want a more subtle look try setting the Opacity lower. Use a setting that works for you! 

9. Save Your Effect

Want to save the effect? Once you’re happy with your adjustments, just click Save in the upper right hand corner. Here you can enter a name for your effect. Your effect will automatically be added to the My Effects category within your program. You can also pick any relevant categories you feel it fits under. Remember to pick any relevant search tags you feel fit the effect we’ve created. Once you are finished, click Save and the effect will be saved under the My Effects category in the effect browser for you to apply anytime in the future. If you’ve created an effect you love, be sure to save your effect to make applying and tweaking that look even easier in the future.


10. Masking

If any part of your image is overly affected, you can use Masking to change it! Gently mask out the area using Brush. Set your sliders to the correct brush radius, strength, and hardness that works for you.


A Little Touch-Up with Masking:


11. Share with the Community

Your unique effect, 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 made 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 Effect. 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 use my effect available on Glow 2! Simply search Auto Shine. 

12. Save Your Image

The adjustments are now complete and your image is ready to save! You can make any adjustments you like to this tutorial and any updates you would like to make can be done by using the sliders within Glow 2.

To save your image, simply click Save in the bottom right hand corner.

Save Image

Before and After


Before & After Gallery

Are you interested in trying Glow 2? Head over to our downloads page and try Glow 2 for 30 days at no charge!

Check out Topaz Labs on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. We also offer free Webinars and have a great community on our Discussion Forum.


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.

Jodi’s Online Gallery


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