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Working with the Topaz Simplify plug-in

From: Digital Painting: Street Scene

Video: Working with the Topaz Simplify plug-in

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.

Working with the Topaz Simplify plug-in

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Digital Painting: Street Scene
Digital Painting: Street Scene

45 video lessons · 15176 viewers

John Derry
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 8m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files
      39s
    3. Installing custom brushes
      7m 0s
  2. 22m 3s
    1. Understanding the visual vocabulary
      4m 46s
    2. Using the vocabulary of photography
      6m 41s
    3. Using the vocabulary of painting
      7m 1s
    4. Looking at reality through a mental painting filter
      3m 35s
  3. 10m 22s
    1. Understanding that resolution is in the brush strokes
      3m 6s
    2. Understanding the subject
      7m 16s
  4. 16m 1s
    1. Removing lens distortions
      2m 33s
    2. Using the Free Transform tool
      4m 42s
    3. Using the Lens Correction filter
      4m 36s
    4. Understanding the ACR lens correction profiles
      4m 10s
  5. 12m 23s
    1. Working with Vibrance
      3m 14s
    2. Using the Match Color command
      2m 59s
    3. Understanding the traditional paint color swatch set
      6m 10s
  6. 16m 6s
    1. The eye has a bettor sensor than a camera
      3m 16s
    2. Using the Shadow/Highlight filter
      3m 17s
    3. Using the HDR Toning filter
      5m 23s
    4. Understanding how RAW files provide malleability
      4m 10s
  7. 14m 42s
    1. Working with the Reduce Noise filter
      2m 50s
    2. Working with the Surface Blur filter
      3m 6s
    3. Using Smart Blur for simplification
      2m 51s
    4. Working with the Topaz Simplify plug-in
      5m 55s
  8. 31m 10s
    1. NDLP: A creative safety net
      5m 1s
    2. Using custom actions
      9m 41s
    3. Using the reference layer
      5m 29s
    4. Cloning layers
      6m 5s
    5. Working with the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      4m 54s
  9. 17m 28s
    1. Brush categorization
      10m 1s
    2. Working with canvas texture
      3m 41s
    3. Using Sample All Layers
      3m 46s
  10. 12m 48s
    1. Being willing to destroy detail
      7m 21s
    2. Establishing the painting style
      5m 27s
  11. 25m 1s
    1. Simplified indication
      9m 3s
    2. Understanding color
      4m 10s
    3. Introducing texture
      11m 48s
  12. 17m 36s
    1. Providing rest areas for the eye
      6m 55s
    2. Focusing on the subject through detail
      10m 41s
  13. 24m 20s
    1. Being willing to depart from the original
    2. Creating detail to enhance the artwork
      8m 36s
    3. Creating physical surface texture effects
      8m 56s
  14. 10m 33s
    1. Waiting a day
      4m 14s
    2. Examining your importance hierarchy
      6m 19s
  15. 57s
    1. Goodbye
      57s

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