Creative Photography with Topaz Labs ReMask


I very much enjoy re-making images that I take in to something new and different. This is particularly true when the image has “issues”. I always leave a few images that need major work in a folder to work with on a rainy day. Today was one of those days and it is also Topaz Labs ReMask month and so I decided to find an image that ReMask could help me with. I was looking at images from my Winter Wildlife Photography Workshop and I found this horse image. I loved the pose and the alert ears (critical for a horse image), but I hated the grouping, the background and the overall composition of the image. Pretty much everything except the horse!

You can click to embiggen the images to get a full-sized look.
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The first step in my process was to find a new image that had a background that I did like and that would work well to host the horse from my original image.

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I normally will take a couple of images of backgrounds, but not this time and so I had to get rid of that pesky horse. Photoshops new Content Aware Fill is nothing short of miraculous…no seriously look up miracle and that will be under the definitions. AND, it is super simple, just make a selection and click! The selection doesn’t have to be fancy either.

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And Voila. You don’t even have to say Presto Chango (I normally do, but you don’t really have to do that.). You just click Edit>Fill>Contents Use: Content Aware >OK and this comes out!

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Now, I went back to the original image to get the horse out of the picture. I used Topaz Labs ReMask and drew around what I wanted to keep in Blue and then filled what was to be cut in red and what was to be kept in green. Here is a link to my basic introduction to Topaz Labs ReMask and you can go to the Topaz Labs site and watch the tutorials. Watching their tutorials is HIGHLY recommended!

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Once you clean up the mask and click Ok you will then have a the subject on a transparent background like this.

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Next you open the cleaned up background image and the horse cutout and simply drag the horse (be sure you have the horse layer selected) on to the background image. You can drag it around to make the composition that you want.

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As you can see it still needs a bit of gardening. I use the still magical content aware fill to fix the bottom left corner, cropped it to suit my eye. I also had to clone out the extra horse legs! You saw them…right? In my first pass at this image I used ReMask to get rid of the legs , but ultimately went back to photoshop for that because it was easier for me to make the backgrounds match. Your results may vary. This one happens to be a 16×9 high-definition crop. Then made a couple of color tweaks. At this point you are really doing what you might do to a brand new image.

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If you were trying to make a photorealistic image, you could stop right here. When I do this sort of thing I no longer consider it to be a photograph and I frown on people trying to pass it off as something out of the camera when it really isn’t.

For me the next step is to make a bit more artistic and so I bring out my go to filters form Topaz Adjust and Clean.

I really love what the Curly Smooth filter does to fur and feathers in the Clean plugin.

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Here are the settings that I used.

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Then I gave it a bit of a color shift and boost with the Brilliant Cold filter in the Adjust plugin. By the way it is so brilliant that is actually what Topaz Labs calls it! I used the default settings for the filter.

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I made a few more fidgets, lightening it with some curves and things like that and then of course, I signed it!

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I almost never touch an image after I put that signature on it, but while I was finishing another notion popped in to my little pea brain…SNOW! I went back to photoshop and added a bit of a blizzard to the image.

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Which one do you like the best? With snow or without?

I hoped you got to know the filters and the process a bit better after this tutorial. If you’d like to own the filter, I’m going to give you 15% off of your purchase at Topaz Labs plugins. Well technically Topaz is giving it to you on my behalf. All you have to do is use code Jeff15 and you will save 15% on your purchase.

What are you waiting for, head on over to the download page at Topaz Labs…HERE.

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I’d love to see your work with the filters, leave a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out!

Questions, Comments, Concerns? Leave a comment, I answer them all!

6 Comments

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  1. Jo Ann Kairys

    Hi, I like the image with the snow – but like them both! Beautiful job making the horse so visually powerful.

    I’m a children’s book author/illustrator who uses Topaz filters almost nonstop to create images for each story page. Much to my great surprise, my first book has received 6 first place national awards so far in 2012, including Mom’s Choice Gold. I owe much of this to Topaz filters which help me blend reality and fantasy into magical settings. This approach is quite unique in children’s literature, and I love the creative process.

    I always have a bit of a challenge with ReMask when extracting one of the main character’s frizzy hair. Definitely need to become more adept with this! Guess I’ll try the latest version!

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. Kerry Boytell

    I like both, but probably like the snow image more. I use topaz filters a lot for my camera club photography, especially for the creative images.I would be interested to know how you created the snow effect.

  3. Jeff

    Hi Kerry, It is basically a layer with the Noise and Motion Blur filter. I’ve been meaning to write it up for a while, stay tuned!

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