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Tutorial: How to Boost Blue Skies with Topaz Studio 2

One of the most common things you will want or need to do when processing your landscape photos is to enhance the sky. This could involve improving the colors of the sky during sunrise or sunset, or simply giving a dull blue sky a little more life. Skies are obviously an important element in most landscape photos, and Lightroom makes it pretty simple to work with skies. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the process of enhancing your skies in Topaz Studio 2 using two essential filters: HSL Color Tuning and Precision Contrast.

Step 1: HSL Color Tuning

We’ll start off by opening our image in Topaz Studio 2. From the beginning, you’ll notice that the colors in this raw image are a little dull. This is a commonality when shooting an image in raw, but the good news is that your file is easy to manipulate when you shoot in raw.  If you’ve shot your photo in another format, don’t worry. This tutorial will work for you, too!

The first thing you’ll want to do is click the blue Add Filter button in the right-hand menu. This is where you’ll find over 30 unique and customizable filters to use on your image. Today we’re going to focus on two filters that will help you enhance the sky in your image. The first filter you will select is HSL Color Tuning in the second category of filters: Color.

Once you apply HSL Color Tuning, the first thing you’ll want to do is click on the blue square under the Color tab (which will be the default tab selected). This allows you to specifically adjust the blue hues in your photograph. Next, you will want to slide the blue Saturation bar up as high as you want until you get the color of blue in your sky that you desire. For this photo, we adjusted the saturation to .55. This bumped up the blues in our photo so that the sky was visible through the clouds.

We also looked at the sliders below the first section and adjusted the Details slider to .43 and the Suppress Artifacts slider to .33 so that you could see more of the details of the blue between the clouds without introducing artifacts that might have appeared in the image. From there we moved on to our next step.

Step 2: Precision Contrast

The second filter we applied to our image was Precision Contrast. This is because after increasing the saturation in the image, we wanted the sky to appear more dynamic and to more clearly notice the difference between the clouds and the sky. To apply Precision Contrast, we clicked on the blue Add Filters button again and then scrolled all the way down to Precision Contrast under the Fix category. 

Once we applied Precision Contrast, we adjusted a few sliders, starting with the sliders under the Contrast section. You’ll notice we adjusted all four sliders (Micro, Low, Medium, and High) by different amounts. These sliders affect all images different depending on the composition. The easiest way to bring out details in the clouds was by adjusting the Low and Medium contrast settings, but we also liked that the High and Micro settings adjusted the rest of the image: the water, the individual, and the mountains in the distance. We encourage you to play around with the sliders until the image appears the way you like! Like everything else in Topaz Studio 2, there’s not an exact science to the perfect image. And your image will be uniquely your own depending on the amount you use the sliders! 

The last sliders we adjusted were in the Lighting and Color sections of Precision contrast. In order to bring out the whites of the clouds, we adjusted the Midtone and Highlight sliders with the Highlight slider adjustment higher than the Midtone slider. Then, as a final push to the bring out the colors in the sky, we adjusted the Saturation and Vibrant Sliders in the Color section by a small amount. Again, in adjusting the sliders we used a process of trial and error – every image will be different!

Step 3: The Final Result!

Using a combination of HSL Color Tuning and Precision Contrast, we were able to bring out the blue in our sky as well as the blue reflection of the sky on the water, without directly effecting the other colors in our image. The result is a brilliant blue sky even with a surplus of clouds. This same process could be used to bring out the color orange in a sunset sky (using the orange square in HSL Color Tuning rather than the blue one) or perhaps the green out of trees in a forest. The possibilities are endless!

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Getting Started with Topaz Studio 2

Welcome to Topaz Studio 2, a creative way to edit your images beautifully with powerful filters and frictionless masking in a fine-tuned non-destructive layer workflow. Let’s walk through a few steps to help you get started!

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Why Would I want to Use Topaz Studio 2?

We’re glad you asked!

Topaz Studio 2 was created for creators. The innovators. The artists. The old masters like Monet, Van Gogh, and Cezanne concerned themselves with feeling and emotion in their art. Even though they were absolutely capable of photorealistically reproducing their subject, they wanted to show the subject like they felt it, not as it objectively appeared. Topaz Studio 2 was made to help you bring your works of digital art to life.

There are two powerful ways to use Topaz Studio 2: Filters and Looks. With hundreds of customized Looks, you can take your photos from ordinary to extraordinary. Topaz Studio 2 also comes with an extensive toolbox of filters to create a powerful creative playground. Use over 25 Filters to play with color, texture, lines, and light in your image – and that’s just the beginning. There are plenty of other software solutions to basic image edits, but only Topaz Studio is tailor-made for creative projects and incredible post-processing.

With even more features like masking, non-destructive layering, and selective adjustments, you can make your image truly your own. The possibilities are endless.

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How do I use Topaz Studio 2 in my existing Topaz Workflow?

First things first, there is no one right way to use Topaz Studio 2 in your workflow. We recommend trying Topaz Studio 2 at various points in your workflow to see what gives you the best results for your images. However, there’s always a good starting spot to point you in the right direction!

To achieve the best results with Topaz Studio, we usually recommend the following workflow:

  1. Import photo to your device. Use JPEG to RAW AI to restore RAW editing capabilities if needed.

     

  2. Apply noise reduction with DeNoise AI.

     

  3. Explore your creativity in Topaz Studio 2.

Topaz Studio can be used as a standalone, or as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. You can find some more information on how to invoke Topaz Studio 2 as a plugin here. 

How do I Install Topaz Studio 2?

Here’s a quick rundown to get you up and running with Topaz Studio 2!

BEFORE YOU DOWNLOAD, please check out the requirements below and see what kind of performance to expect:

After meeting the requirements, simply follow the directions below:

  • Download Topaz Studio 2 from the Topaz Labs Downloads Page.
  • Log in with your Topaz Labs account or the email address that you used to purchase.

To start a free, 30-day trial, please follow the directions below:

Extra Tip: Started a trial, bought the product, and still seeing “trial” on the application? No worries. Simply click “Help” in the top toolbar and then click “Update Product Ownership.” And with just those few clicks, your product will be updated.

If you experience issues with installation, you can find a troubleshooting article here or submit a support ticket for our team of support specialists!

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What if I Have More Questions?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

If you’ve got more questions, head on over to our Frequently Asked Questions page.

We’re so excited you’ve decided to use Topaz Studio 2 and we can’t wait to see what you create! 

 

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Tutorial: How to Create a Vintage Film Effect in Topaz Studio 2

There’s a certain kind of nostalgia you get when you view a vintage photograph. Perhaps an old photo of one of your family members is a treasured memory even with it’s fading edges and scratched surface. Today, we wanted to help you recreate that effect in your own images to give them a weathered and well-loved feel.  In this tutorial, we will walk you through the process of creating your own vintage film look in Topaz Studio 2 using four essential filters: Precision Contrast, Tone Curves, Texture, and Vignette.

Step 1: Precision Contrast

We’ll start off by opening our image in Topaz Studio 2. From the beginning, you’ll notice that the color in this image has a mix of yellows and blues, a contrasting effect that looks fine in an original photograph. However, to give this a true vintage look, we want to dull the contrast to give the photo a weathered look.

The first thing you’ll want to do is click the blue Add Filter button in the right-hand menu. Though Topaz Studio comes with many customized Looks that mimic a vintage effect, the process of creating your own allows you a much more personal touch. The Add Filter menu is  where you’ll find over 30 unique and customizable filters to use on your image. Today we’re going to focus on four filters that will give your image a vintage look. The first filter you will select is Precision Contrast in the first category of filters: Essential.

Once you apply Precision Contrast, the first thing you’ll want to do is adjust the Contrast levels in your image. To give your image a faded look, we’ll want to decrease the contrast on all four sliders: Micro, Low, Medium, and High. Use your own eyes to see just how low you want to slide them depending on the existing contrast in your image. We’re also going to lower the Shadow slider to make sure that even though we’re fading out the contrast, we can still see the shadows in the image 

You’ll also notice that vintage film photographs have a duller color scheme than modern photographs. To decrease the color in your image, scroll down to the Color sliders and lower the Vibrance and Color Contrast sliders.

Step 2: Tone Curves

The second filter we applied to our image was Tone Curves. Tone Curves is an incredible Filter that can allow you to shift the way colors (and their accompanying shadows and highlights) appear in your image. To give our image a faded yellowing-paper sort of look that is common in vintage photos, we made a sort of bowed shape after selecting the blue box in tone curves. Since blue is a contrasting color to yellow, by adjusting the way blues look in our image, we’re able to see the yellow in the image a lot clearer. The resulting image appears in the window below. You’ll notice we’ve already created a faded look with these two filters.

Step 3: Texture and Vignette

The last settings we’ll use for our photo are Texture and Vignette. We started by scrolling through our textures and applying two that gave our photo a weathered look. There are dozens of textures in the Texture Filter that could work for this purpose. We chose one filter with a scratched appearance and one with a faded and blackened border, then lowered the opacity of each so they didn’t overwhelm the image. We were going for a bit of subtlety! 

The last filter we added was a vignette, with a subtle strength of .61 and a subtle Size and Transition change as well. You’re more than welcome to make your vignette more bold if you would like your vintage photo to look a bit more dramatic!

Step 3: The Final Result!

Using a combination of four Filters in five layers, we were able to five our seagull a weathered, aged look as though this photo was taken on the beach in the 1950s. This effect works great on portraits, landscapes, or still-life. We encourage you to play around with textures and make it your own. Happy creating!