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Topaz Filter (Photoshop Only) Tutorial

Make images smoother and have a nice soft glow with the Topaz Clean Filter!

Going from to

This tutorial will teach you the proper way to use Topaz (not using it the right way can make images uglier). (Coloring tutorial also included.)

Warning: Image Heavy and lengthy

Program: Photoshop CS5
Difficulty: Medium-Hard (depending on your knowledge of PS and Topaz)
Translatable?: No (uses Topaz Filter, selective color, vibrance)
PSD?: yes!

Other examples:

(please redirect all questions and comments here, thanks).

DO NOT COPY THIS TUTORIAL/PSD EXACTLY! USE YOUR OWN IMAGE!! I'm putting the psd up, but if I see copies I will take it down!

This can be transferred to icons as well. It is simply easier to do all the editing on the full image and then crop, which is why I show it with the full image. When done right Topaz gives a gorgeous soft glow effect to images, and also effectively sharpens MQ or grainy images.

First take your image. I got mine of the lovely Jennifer Lawrence from jenniferlawrencefan.com.

First step, go to Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen. Regardless of whether the image grainy or you think this sharpening makes it look oversharpened, and also regardless of whether you're making an edit or just an icon, we will fix it (Topaz smooths it out).

Yes, it does look gross and pixely now that we've sharpened it. But now we're going to open Topaz. Filter>Topaz Labs>Topaz Clean 3. Now obviously if you have not downloaded Topaz, you need to do that. Go here.

Now obviously we don't want to leave it like this on Cartooned unless we want it to look like crap.

Depending on the look you're going for is whether you change the setting on the side or not. Cartooned can give very good looks if you change the number settings. For this particular image though, I changed it to Curly Smooth. Play around with the different styles and the number settings to get the desired effect.

Now this possibly looks worse than when it was first on Cartooned. Now I'm going to change (mostly lower) the settings. The ones you want to watch out for the most are the Strength, Sharpening, and Radius settings. Here are the settings I used for this image.

Now it looks very soft and not nastily-sharpened! Again, adjust your settings however you want to make more or less of a glow depending on your image, but DO NOT make it to the point where it looks TOO cartoon-ish or Topazed. Over-Topazed graphics DO NOT look good AT ALL. They're just tacky.

This is what it looks like with Topaz:

Now color your image however you like! Add a psd, whatever. The coloring doesn't matter, what matters is the last step after you've colored it to your satisfaction. (I will continue with a tutorial on how I got my coloring after I finish this Topaz part.)

I do this ALWAYS after I've Topazed an image. It just adds to the effect and makes the image look great (just like I always sharpen before adding the filter).

Once your coloring is done, hit Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E. This makes a copy of the whole image. Now go to Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen. Again, Smart Sharpening after the Topaz makes it look cleaner and gives more of a glow. Smart Sharpen settings: Amount-500, Radius-0.2, Remove Gaussian Blur. Depending on your Topaz initial settings and how "sharp" that makes the image look, you may have to lower the radius to about 100 or so.

Here's just the edit without Topaz/Smart Sharpening etc.:

And here it is WITH Topaz:

It is SO much smoother and prettier!

Stay tuned for the coloring tutorial! (PSD at the bottom).

For a sharp, crisp, and clean look (instead of a glow):

For an image to look like this, you DO NOT sharpen the image first. Once you've opened the image, your first step is to Topaz it.

Go to Filer>Topaz Labs>Topaz Clean 3. The other settings softened it up. For this one we want higher settings that will make it more crisp, but not so high that it looks over sharpened or even cartoonish.

We are going to use Curly Smooth. Here are my settings:

I actually changed the radius to 4 for this image, but 3 is usually the setting that works best with most images.

Add your coloring. This is the coloring I used for this image.

Once you've colored it, you're going to smart sharpen again. Press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E. This time, though, since we made it sharp instead of smooth with Topaz, change the Smart Sharpen Radius to 100-200 to prevent over-sharpening; when we smooth all the edges with Topaz the Smart Sharpen needs to be more to prevent it from looking blurry.

Without Topaz:

With Topaz:

The difference between this kind of Topaz and the smooth Topaz used on the JLaw pic is definitely more noticeable. Either way is gorgeous and I hope this helped you prevent over-Topazing, because no one likes those :)

Other examples of Topazed edits (with different Topaz settings):

Personally the Demi one is my favorite, because it really looks crisp and glowing :)

Icon versions:

This coloring works for most images.

Once you have used Topaz on your image, you will need to color it.

1. Duplicate your base and set it to Soft Light, 100%. This darkens the image and adds contrast.

But now it's a little too dark for a good coloring and yellow/orange.

2. Duplicate the base again, drag to the top, and set to Luminosity, 100%. This is just to add most of the natural color back to the image, while also keeping the contrast and making it slightly more matte.

3. Next go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color and fill with #ffd5d5 set to Soft Light, 100%. You may have to lower the opacity depending on your image. This step is to really brighten up the image and add more natural pink skin colors and making her hair look a better shade of blonde.

4. Now we are going to add a Selective Color layer. This one will REALLY depend on your image. I will include my settings, but this may not work for every image, so toy with the settings until the coloring looks good. I wanted to make her skin have more natural pink and add more blues while also making her hair and eyes stand out.

Reds: +11, +1, -4, 0
Yellows: -11, +7, +19, 0
Cyans: +100, 0, 0, 0
Blues: +18, -11, -11, 0
Whites: +6, +16, -15, 0
Neutrals: +19, +13, -7, +6
Blacks: +5, -9, -9, +7

5. Add a new Hue/Saturation layer and up the Master Saturation +9. This is to make the colors brighter. It really ups the yellows and reds.

6. Now I wanted my image to have even more blues and not be quite so yellow/red, but be more balanced. So add a Color Balance layer. This is another layer that you'll have to adjust based on your image.

M: -12, +12, +17
S: -6, -8, -13
H: -8, +1, +5

7. Now this is pretty, but not very bright. So add a Vibrance layer. Vibrance +9, Saturation +1. This just adds more colors. It makes just a slight difference with the settings so low. If you want your image to have brighter colors, up the Saturation.

8. Now I wanted to add more normal skin tones back. So add a light peach color to not only make the skin and hair more natural but add brightness to the overall image. Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color, #ffe3ba, set on Soft Light, 10%. If your image is kind of dark you can make the opacity higher. It also brings out the slight matte sheen.

9. Now we want to add back just a little more pink to her skin and hair to make it look more natural. Add a darker/hot pink in order to do this, as opposed to a light pink like we added in the first soft light layer. Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. #fd5bb7, set on Pin Light, 10%.

10. Last step! I wanted to add more depth to the colors. I mean, the coloring is great now, but I am an absolute coloring perfectionist. I also love the blue in her hair right now, and I wanted more blues in the overall image. Again, your settings probably won't be exact.

Reds: -6, -8, 0, +9
Yellows: +12, -20, -42, -7
Whites: +9, -8, -11, 0
Neutals: +12, +6, +3, 0

And that's all for the coloring! Of course, now you would do the steps for the smart sharpen that I outlined above. Even if you just use the coloring and don't use Topaz, Smart Sharpen is still a good step that doesn't oversharpen :)

Other examples of this coloring:

.psd (full size image) at my graphics journal!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 18th, 2012 03:58 am (UTC)
from our rules:
Do not ask for, describe how to obtain, or offer to provide cracked or illegally downloaded software or warez. This is a bannable offense.
you need to remove the information about how to illegally acquire topaz.

*mod sid
Apr. 19th, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
Yes! An actual tutorial at Icon-Tutorial! I have Topaz Clean and I have so much trouble using it, since it either looked like crap, or way over done. So thank you for this!
Apr. 21st, 2012 03:24 am (UTC)
:3 glad you're able to use it! Most people way over do Topaz, so I'm glad I helped you with the settings! You can use slightly stronger settings on Curly Smooth for an even more crisp look also :)
Apr. 29th, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
Mine turned out pretty cool, thanks!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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