In this guide learn how to use the different settings in Topaz Glow as well as one-click effects to create a range of unique and electrifying looks. This guide includes the following:

  • Top 5 Interface Features to Know About
  • Create a Neon Effect
  • Create a Graphic Effect
  • Emphasizing Fur and Feathers
  • The Subtle Side of Glow
  • Using Glow with Portraits

Don’t own a copy of Glow? You can download a free 30-day trial here. And don’t forget, Glow is $20 off until December 31st, 2014 with the coupon code introglow.

Top 5 Interface Features to Know About

With a new and improved user interface, here’s some insider info to help optimize your workflow with Topaz Glow.

1. Accessing Glow as a plugin and standalone editor

glow-256Topaz Glow works as both a standalone editor and plugin in Photoshop CS4+, Photoshop Elements 6+, Lightroom, Corel PaintShop Pro X and Serif Photo Plus X5+. See here for system requirements and setup instructions regarding how to access it as a plugin. (Also see the Glow FAQs for additional assistance if needed.)

2. Presets and Parameters

Upon entering Topaz Glow you’ll see a list of featured presets. You can browse through the different collections of effects from the top pull down menu.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 2.01.00 PM

If you want to customize an effect or create your own, to access the selective parameters click on the Parameters icon or simply press Ctrl/Cmd + P to take you to the sliders.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 1.59.51 PM

3. Saving a Preset

After you’ve customized an effect or created your own, to save a preset, simply click on the plus  Create Preset Icon  icon in the top right corner of the interface. You can then save the effect to the desired collection.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 2.07.18 PM

4. View Modes

To toggle back and forth between the original image and edited version, simply press the spacebar. With this new interface we’ve also designed different split-view modes, which can be accessed from the top left menu.

View Modes

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 2.12.25 PMSingle split vertical view. Tip: drag the white line to view more of the original or edited image.   

5. Preferences

The Glow preferences can be accessed from the top menu.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 2.15.21 PM

Within the preferences you can opt out of starting with the example image, or start with the selective parameters rather than presets.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 2.16.57 PMFor those with fast and newer graphic cards, we recommend checking ‘Enable High-Resolution Processing’ when working with larger images to retain image quality.

Create a Neon Effect


Dragonfly copy



Creating a neon effect in Glow is as easy as one-click. To start, open your image in Glow.

  1. From the top pull down menu, select the Neon collection. Collection List
  2. Browse through the effects until you find one that catches your eye. The preset ‘Blazing Neon I’ is a personal favorite that I used for this demo. Dragonfly Neon
  3. To customize the effect, press P to access the custom sliders (or click on the preset twice).
  4. Play around with each slider, moving it up or down a tiny amount to see the effect it has on your image. This is the best way to learn how to use the custom settings in Topaz Glow.

Creating a custom neon look

  1. To create a custom neon look, press the reset  Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 3.19.40 PM  button in the top right corner.
  2. With a light glow type selected, increase the Glow Type, Effect Sharpness and Electrify sliders.
  3. Then, decrease the Brightness slider and increase the Edge Color slider. You may also choose to increase the Simplify Details slider to remove excess details.

Here’s the settings that were used to create the final custom look:

Dragonfly Neon Final

Create a Graphic Effect


Graphic BeforeAfter


Creating an illustrative look in Glow is possible by using the available effects within the Graphic collection.

  1. Start by navigating to the Graphic collection to see a various list of graphic related presets.
  2. Choose one of the ‘Brilliant on White’ presets, or the ‘Sketch Outline’ effect. For this demo, ‘Brilliant on White II’ was chosen. Graphic Builiding
  3. While this preset is a good starting point, there are some distractions in the background. To smoothen it, press P to access the selective parameters. Unwanted Smudge
  4. To reduce the amount of details within the background, increase the Simplify Details slider. This will reduce weak details. You may also decide to boost the Saturation or decrease it to zero for black and white conversion.
  5. If you find that there is leftover background, this can always be eliminated using Photoshop’s clone stamp tool.
  6. Additional sharpening may be applied by going to the Finishing Touches module and increasing the Sharpness slider. Another way to apply sharpening is to increase the Effect Sharpness slider under the Secondary and Primary Glow modules.

Here are the settings that were used to achieve the final look:

Double Split Verical

Emphasizing Fur and Feathers


Dog Original



The Fur and Feathers collection within Topaz Glow can be used to give your image just the touch it needs. While suitable for photos of animals, the collection can also be used for bringing out intricate details in other objects, like flowers and macro images.

For this demo, we’ll be working with Glow as a plugin through Photoshop so that layers and masking can be used.

  1. To start, access Topaz Glow through the Filter menu in Photoshop. Once inside Glow, navigate to the Fur and Feathers collection.
  2. Select the ‘Fur and Feathers I’ preset. When applied, you might think the effect is too strong. Simply reduce the Strength slider in the bottom left corner to lighten the effect. Strength
  3. You may also want to customize the effect, so navigate to the selective parameters by pressing P.
  4. For this example, the Smudge slider was increased a tad to smoothen the lines out more. You can access the Smudge slider under the Finishing Touches module.

  5. The Simplify Details slider was also increased a tiny amount in both Secondary and Primary Glow modules to help reduce excess details, giving the dog a surreal appearance.

  6. Once finished save your custom preset if desired (click on the ‘+’ symbol to save a preset), then press OK to return back to Photoshop.

At this point, you may decide that the background of the image appears to be unnatural or distracting and wish to revert it back to the original. You can use Topaz ReMask to accomplish this task.

  1. To remove the background, bring the image into ReMask and use the Blue Primary Brush to outline the subject and the Red Fill Tool to fill in the background.  ReMask Dog
  2. Hit the Enter key to compute the mask.  Background Removal Remask
  3. Then make additional refinements to your mask as needed. Simply use the Green (keep) and Red (cut) Primary brushes to dab in areas that should be kept or removed.
  4. Back in Photoshop, under the layers panel uncheck the eye symbol underneath the ReMask layer to see the edited Glow image with the original background.

Layer Masking

Tip: to enable the Layer Mask function in ReMask, go to the bottom Menu-> Preferences and select the Enable Layer Mask function.

The Subtle Side of Glow

The key to subtle effects with Glow is to take advantage of the Strength and Blend Modes.

Strength + Blend Mode

The chosen preset will also play a part. Effects such as Mysterious II, Dream, Bliss and so on can all produce light results when applied accordingly.

Try applying a preset such as Mysterious II with a Soft or Hard blending light…you’ll be surprised at how natural and beautiful the transformation is!

Here are some examples of subtle looks that can be achieved within Topaz Glow:


DahliaOriginalTip: For a more natural look, decrease the Edge Color. To bring the subject more in focus, increase the Sharpness slider under Finishing Touches.

Using Glow with Portraits


Pretty girl


Pretty girl

Glow does not have a masking capability just yet, so it is imperative to use layer masking with the plugin version of Glow in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. If you are new to layer masking, check out this guide to using layer masks with plugins.

  1. To start, open Glow as a plugin in Photoshop. See here for assistance with accessing Glow in the Filter menu if needed: I can’t find Glow in the Photoshop Filter menu
  2. Upon entering Glow, navigate to the Afterglow collection. Choose a preset like Radiate or Soft Bloom. For this demo, Radiate was chosen. Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 9.30.34 AM
  3. Reduce the Strength of the effect if desired.
  4. Next, to customize the effect, press Ctrl/Cmd + P to access the parameters.
  5. For this example I boosted the Contrast up a bit and then added a Vignette to place emphasis on the model’s face. The vignette option can be found under the Finishing Touches module. Simply increase the Vignette Size and then adjust the Vignette Transition.
  6. Use the Vignette Center to center the vignette anywhere on the image. Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 9.55.50 AM
  7. Once finished making adjustments, click on the ‘+’ icon in the top right corner of the menu to save the preset.

Here are the settings used to achieve the final look in Glow:

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 9.58.54 AM

As you might notice, the face looks worse than before as it has lost sharpness and is too soft. This can be fixed with layer masking back in Photoshop. I simply brushed away the effect (at a reduced opacity) from the model’s eyes, lips and certain parts of her skin that looked unnatural:

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 10.20.10 AM

If looking to give the image an additional pop, I suggest taking it into Topaz Clarity, our plugin that works with selective contrast control and also contains an HSL module. The Portrait Collection within Clarity contains a range of excellent effects to make the image stand out even more. I applied the Portrait I preset, which enhanced the contrast and saturation a bit more for a nice image pop:

Pretty girl

To summarize using portraits with Glow, it should be known that Glow isn’t the best program for enhancing skin or facial features (check out Topaz Clean for skin smoothing technology). But Glow does work great with hair, jewelry and so on, transforming it from dull to electrifying!

I hope these tips help to optimize your workflow with Glow. Did I leave anything out? Post your questions and comments below. Also be sure to check out the Glow user manual and user gallery!

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