Simplify it in Black and White

Topaz Simplify is a great program to use for transforming your digital images into digital art.  Before you jump into the program I recommend watching the getting started tutorial; it’s a great guide for your journey through the program .  Their tutorials are clear and concise and if you need extra help there are forums and FAQ’s in the help section.  The FAQ’s came in very handy for me when I couldn’t figure out where to put my product key.   The license/trial key is accessed through the box at the very bottom left hand corner of the program that says menu.  Through there you can also access tutorials, tech support, updates and more.

I use PSE (Photoshop Elements) as my editing program so for me to open any Topaz program I go up to my filter tab, click and in the drop down box there’s the Topaz Labs plug-in.  After clicking on the Simplify program another window opens which is strictly the Simplify program; the host program is open behind it.  As you can see from the image below it is a simple interface.  The upper left hand box is your preview box which shows you how your image will look as you apply an effect.  Underneath the preview box are the list of effects – BuzSim, Painting, Sketch, Line and Ink – which you can chose to create your digital art.  Also in the effects box are a My Collection where you put in your own created presets, Detail Removal and Enhancement, and  Simplify 3 Preset List.  I’m not quite sure what that last one entails as I have not tried it yet.

Once you pick an effect to work with the box underneath shows you the list of presets that go with it.  The BuzSim effect is shown here (not used for this image) with its sixteen presets.  The number of presets vary with each effect.  For this church tower  image I picked the Painting effect – Oil Painting Black White II preset.  If you like the results of your chosen effect you click on the box in the lower right corner that says OK.  This will take your image back into your host program where you can either save it or do further editing.  If you don’t like the effect and want to chose another you click on the box that says reset all and the image returns to it’s original state.  But what if you like the results from your chosen preset but wish it had a bit more or less of something?  There are ways to make those tweaks.

You can make those changes using the Global and Local Adjustments and Finishing Touches choices which are the three tabs on the right side of the screen.  Global adjustments allows you to manipulate your chosen effect by choosing the simplify or adjust tabs within it to make the effect stronger or weaker, bring out or reduce some of the details in the image, change the brightness, contrast or saturation, and more.  The local adjustments tab lets you use brushes to do specific adjustments like dodge, burn, erase, etc.  The finishing touches tab lets you add a vignette, quad tone, or transparency.  A feature I really like about this program – other than the artistic effects it lets you make –  is that when you hover over any tab it tells you what it does.  Perfect for those moments when you’re not quite sure and need a reminder.

After applying the painting preset I went into global adjustments and just inched up the brightness in the adjust mode.  Satisfied with the outcome I clicked on the OK button and was automatically returned to PSE with my new image.  I was happy with it as it was and just saved it as you see here.  In my opinion architecture and black and white are made for each other and in the case of my image here, the Simplify effect makes the tower really stand out from the sky and clouds while still lending that painting effect I wanted.  There is detail in the image but with a certain amount of smoothness.  I hope you understand what I’m trying to convey there.

What I like about this program is it’s ease of use, the quality of the results, and a price point that won’t break your bank.  It is clean to view without a lot of clutter; not a lot of tabs to hunt down or try and figure out.  The tabs tell you what they do and if you don’t like your choice you click reset all or if you just didn’t like that one tweak you just tried you click the undo button.   There were some presets that just were not my style but there are many others that I had creative fun with.

To learn more about Topaz Simplify as well as download a free 30 day trial of it or any of their other programs go to .

(This post was sponsored by Topaz Labs but all opinions and images are my own.)

Screenshot UCG





About imagesbytdashfield

Fine art photographer who loves to see and capture the amazing things in this world. Owner of Images by TDashfield photography.
This entry was posted in architecture, Photo Techniques, photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Simplify it in Black and White

  1. I’ve always wondered about these photo editing programs. I did try one once and thought they really make a difference and speed up the process. It would take years for me to learn Photoshop to do the types of processing they do so easily with a program. There is a photographer I love in our city and I’m positive he must use something like this. I’m off to take a look at Topaz! Thanks for letting us know!

  2. The Dose of Reality says:

    It amazes me that the before and after shot above are just so different in mood. It’s like two completely different photos. It’s so light and happy in the first and so ominous and dark in the second photo! As a non-photographer, it just never hit me how much the tone of a photo can be changed without changing the actual image! COOL! –Lisa

  3. Ingrid says:

    That second photo looks like it could relate to a horror movie. The photos don’t even look the same. My next post will actually have a b/w. I’m playing with Picasa before taking the next step 🙂

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