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As we've seen, Photoshop has several filters capable of removing high-frequency detail from a photograph, and as usual, there are third-party filters out there that fill perceived holes in Photoshop's capabilities with add-on plug-in filters. One such filter in this case is Topaz Labs Simplify 3 filter. This filter has several bells and whistles that enable a wider range of results. In this video, we'll take a look at Simplify. And per our other videos, let's go to chapter6 and open up our toned_photo.
I'll go to Full Screen mode. We want to look at this at 100%. I've put it in our primary subject area here. And now we'll go to our Filter menu and go down to Topaz Labs Simplify 3. I would like to point out that if you're interested in this filter, you can download a 30-day free trial. It doesn't leave any watermarks or anything, so you have 30 days to really exercise this file and see if you like it. And it's only I believe somewhere under $40 if you do choose to buy it.
So if you think this is a filter you like, I can recommend it as a very good companion to Photoshop. Now once again, as we've done before, we're going to go to 100% so we can see exactly how this filter is working. And I'm just going to start off by showing you a few presets that they have. This is where this really shines. There are a pretty wide set of controls in here that we're not going to get into nearly the sophistication of what this can totally do. But just by showing you a few of these presets, you can start to see that you can get many, many different kinds of results out of this particular filter.
Some people actually use the filter as an end result unto itself. I like to think that I can take it further than what the filter alone can do, so for me it's just a very nice filter effect. Now what I like to do is just reset everything, so we're now down to basic controls. Really all you need to deal with is the Simplify Size slider, and I'll just turn that up a bit. It's pretty sensitive, so you don't want to crank it up too much; if you do, you're going to get very simplified imagery.
But you can see how this really goes a long way towards simplifying and yet maintaining all of that edge detail that's in the image. The other slider that is very useful is the Details Strength. You can see where we've lost the lights in the trees, and I can bring those back and yet it still maintain the general character of the Simplify Size setting. So this filter really does quite a bit. I find it to be a very interesting filter to experiment with, as well as use as the primary way I like to get my images prepped prior to painting.
Let's go ahead and say OK, and because this is a sophisticated filter, there is a lot of processing going on underneath the hood, so you'll find that depending on the size of your filter, these are going to take a little longer to process, but it's well worth it for the results that you get. So here's our finished image. And once again, the character is different than we've seen in the other filters, but it gives you a really good idea of what you can get in terms of the "ultimate," so to speak, in image simplification.
Now I'm going to go ahead and close this, and if we go back to chapter6, I've put in here a file called Simplify Compare. Let's open this up. And I'm going to go to Full Screen mode at 100% and let's get rid of the interface, so we can see this. And basically this gives you a nice comparison, so you can just see side by side what each of the filters that we've looked at do. So here's our original, and we can't look at this all on screen at once, So I'm just going to scroll. Reduce Noise, as we said earlier, is a nice beginner filter.
The one thing that I will criticize it for is it tends to soften everything up, so the crisp edges get lost to a degree, and there's an overall kind of softness to the image, but not bad for a built-in filter. Next we go to a Surface Blur, and it's very good at maintaining crisp edges on high-contrast areas, but it also tends to almost give what I call kind of an underwater effect to the reduction of noise in the image. Next, we looked at Smart Blur, and Smart Blur starts to have a good combination of both reducing high-frequency detail, as well as maintaining edges.
So moving up in the quality ladder, you can see this definitely does a better job, at least in this image. Once again, I will emphasize, every image is different, and you may find one of these techniques works better on a different image than it does on this image, so you can't give it an overarching quantitative pronouncement that this is the best filter. And then finally, we have Topaz Simplify 3. And in looking at this, I probably under-simplified just a hair, but it does show how a live detail can stay in the image and yet can be very effective at removing the highest frequency detail in this particular case.
And as we saw, it has the most wide-ranging control over all of the filters that we've seen, but you pay for it, because it is a third-party filter. So Topaz Simplify is really adept at a wide range of simplified looks, so much so that it is capable of producing finished artwork on its own. For our purposes don't be seduced by these looks and go overboard. All of the simplification methods we've looked at, when well applied, will produce an attractive painterly effect.
You don't want to simplify detail so much, however, that there is little to focus on.
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