Topaz Impression Tutorial – Using Opacity


I love using paint programs to create art from my photography and the new darling Topaz Impression is so awesome I have a hard time stopping myself from creating new paintings. I really have enough art in the house… One of the tricks that I like to use in creating a painting in photoshop is to use layers and opacity to adjust the amount of realism in the painting. I wrote this tutorial to show you how that works. This technique does require that you use a program that allows you to work on layers such as Adobe Photoshop or Elements. I was at the Oregon Coast this weekend and took this iPhone picture of the sunrise. I knew I wanted to see what I could do with in Topaz as soon as I saw it and this was how it all went down.
Click an image to embiggen to their full glory.
Original iPhone image photographed by Jeff Wendorff at Nye Beach on the Oregon Coast

Original iPhone image – Nye Beach Sunrise on the Oregon Coast

I think the original was pretty noisy so I used Topaz Labs DeNoise to help me clean up the image. I knew I was going to paint the image and so I didn’t really care about the details and I used the highest noise reduction preset to get rid all of the artifacts. This is usually and important step because the artifacts can make Impression “paint” them too.
with Topaz DeNoise at strongest noise jog setting

with Topaz DeNoise at strongest noise jpg setting

Now that the image is cleaned up, I thought to myself…self (thanks Emeril), this really wasn’t a very colorful sunrise what can we do to make it pop? I used Topaz Labs Adjust and the Photo Pop preset to give is some more ummm, pop! Ā šŸ™‚
Original image modified with with Topaz Adjust filter - Photo Pop preset by Jeff Wendorff

with Topaz Adjust filter – Photo Pop preset

Now the hardest part for me is to decide which preset that I want to use on a particular photo. So I like to play with them and see which works and which don’t. This is all purely subjective. The next step is the one that I find to me the most useful in helping me create my masterpiece. I make a duplicate layer in photoshop and then I edit the image in Topaz Impression. This will let me play with the opacity setting to adjust the amount of photo realism is in the finished painting. Here are some examples of images that I played with to show you how this can dramatically change your painting. In this first example the Cezanne preset really makes an over the top impressionist view of the sunrise, so I backed it down to 39% opacity to give it back a bit of detail, but keeping the impressionism alive.
with Topaz Impression Cezanne preset at 100% opacity

with Topaz Impression Cezanne preset at 100% opacity

with Topaz Impression Cezanne preset at 39% opacity

with Topaz Impression Cezanne preset at 39% opacity

I though the the Oil Painting 1 preset did a much better job of holding some details and so I only backed the opacity down a little to 68%.
with Topaz Impression Oil Painting 1 preset

with Topaz Impression Oil Painting 1 preset

with Topaz Impression Oil painting 1 preset at 68% opacity

with Topaz Impression Oil painting 1 preset at 68% opacity

In my mind this was always going to be a watercolor and I really liked what Topaz Impressions Watercolor 1 preset did with the image. I actually prefer the 100% opacity and I signed that one. I did make one at 82% so you could see how the opacity worked on this image as well.
with Topaz Impression Watercolor 1 preset at 100% opacity

with Topaz Impression Watercolor 1 preset at 100% opacity

with Topaz Impression Watercolor 1 preset at 82% opacity

with Topaz Impression Watercolor 1 preset at 82% opacity

There are ways to manipulate the amount of photorealism inside Topaz Impression, but for me the easiest way is to to use photoshop’s layer and opacity to create the art from photography that I like the most…

BonusĀ Topaz Impression Tip

You can also use Topaz Impression (any host or standalone)Ā to re-paint a painting! This is an oil painting that I re-painted with the Watercolor preset.
Re-painting a Topaz Impression Oil Painting with the Watercolor preset

Re-painting a Topaz Impression Oil Painting with the Watercolor preset

Topaz Labs Impression PaintingsĀ Gallery

You can see all of the art that I have created from photography with Topaz Impression online…HERE.

Win a Canvas Print

Leave a comment below and let me know your favorite Topaz Impression painting and I will randomly select one person to receive a free canvas print of their choice. This offer will end on November 1st, 2014.

Join a Workshop

I teach a workshop called the Art of Creative Photography and I do spend time showing you more tips and tricks using plugins like these. You can check out when the next class is available on my website. If you’d like to arrange for a private workshop for you or your group I can do that too, just send me an email and we’ll make a plan. The link to my workshops is…HERE.  

2 Comments

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  1. Larry

    Wow Jeff, great images. I too have used an iPhone when I didn’t have my dslr with me. I’m a newbie but love your images. Hard to choose a favorite as I like so many. I’m also just getting started with topaz adjust and impressions and photomatix. If I had to choose just one, I’d say the deer with huge antlers. Thanks for this tutorial. I’ve seen others that tend to “scold” the viewer into not doing this or that, but yours is most helpful. Thank you.

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