Topaz Impression Review

Topaz Impression - an entirely new way to turn your photos into art!

I am a big fan of all the Topaz plug-ins, and have quite a bit of fun playing around with them. As I have continued to explore creativity in my photography, I find myself turning again and again to some of the key Topaz products to help me along in my efforts.

Well, now there is a new product which I can experiment with - Topaz Impression!

Simply put, it allows you to turn your photos into digital art.  Now, you might think that sounds a lot like Topaz Simplify (which I reviewed here, and LOVE) and you would be right.  It does SOUND a lot like Topaz Simplify, but in reality the output/results are much different.  And yes, they are going to keep Simplify around.  These are two entirely different products.

And I see a place for BOTH of these products in my photographic toolkit!

According to the Topaz website, Impression actually goes in and paints brushstrokes, albeit at a rate of about 10,000 per second!  And there are a LOT of preset options - which I recommend as a starting point - but the real fun is in the customization you can do.

This product actually paints like a human would paint, as opposed to something which appears to be more computer-generated. The results just LOOK like paintings - it's pretty awesome.  So if you are looking for ways to get creative (or you just wish you could paint HA!) then this product is the one to try.

Speaking of trying, you can actually get a free trial on their site.  Or if you want to go ahead and buy it, using the coupon code JIMNIX will save you 15% off your order!  And yes, that coupon code will work on ANY PRODUCT that Topaz Labs sells.  So stock up!  :-)

Click here to check out all the Topaz products!

Here are some screenshots from Impression, along with some comments.  In reality, there isn't a way to really do an in-depth tutorial on the product, because it isn't necessary - and I mean that in a good way!  It's incredibly easy to use and intuitive.  I could ramble a bit (and often do) but you will learn best how to use it by just getting in there and messin' around with it!

In fact, the interface and menus are much more streamlined than previous Topaz products.  I recommend you just open up an image and start experimenting!  And smile, because this is fun!

(click any image to embiggen)

Here's the photo that I started with, which was an HDR of a canal in Copenhagen, Denmark:

Once you open it in Impression, you have this basic menu.  All the Effects options are on the right.  Very clean layout, yes?  You can either click where it says "All Effects" in the upper right to sort the Effects by category, or just leave it on that standard All Effects setting and then scroll through them all down the right side.  I tend to choose that option, since it gives me a nice preview of the image with each effect.  It's like a buffet.  You can browse them all that way, then choose where you want to dive in. 

At the bottom you have "Strength" which is basically an Opacity setting...slide it to the Left to lessen the strength of the Effect.  This is a very important slider, though it may not appear to be so.  It effectively lets you lessen the impact of the chosen preset on your photo.  Each time you choose a preset, it defaults to 100% strength.  Now many times I have immediately thought "wow, that's too much, I don't like that preset", or something like that, and I have moved on to check out another one.  But I HIGHLY recommend that you reduce the strength by moving the slider to the left, just to see how it changes the look of the shot.  You will be surprised as how your opinion may change, and quickly!  I have done this many times, and just by reducing the strength I have come to better appreciate a particular preset.  

Next to that is the Blend Mode which can alter the effect quite dramatically, though thus far I have just left it in Normal Blend Mode.  Seems cleaner to me.  However you can choose from Normal, Multiply, Screen, Overlay, Soft Light and Hard Light.  Again, experimentation here is really the only way to find what you like.

Once you choose an Effect, give it a single click and it will show you that effect on the image in the main viewing area.  Also, you can then click one more time on the Preview on the right, and you will be taken into the Adjustments areas.

Here is what the Adjustments tab/menus look like.  Again, very clean design here (though it is very powerful under the hood!).  I believe all of these are pretty straightforward, but again it's worth some time to just play around with each of these sliders on a few images, so you can get the hang of it.  Practice makes perfect they say!

One cool thing to note: in the COLOR section you can click on any of those colored boxes you see there, and they will allow you to adjust the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness of just that color.  It's very powerful and gives you that extra layer of fine-grain control.  Also, as you hover your mouse over one of those color boxes, Impression will show you where that color is present in your image, so it gives you an idea which parts of the image will change when you adjust it by that particular color.  

Texture - and LOTS of choices in that window!

Texture - and LOTS of choices in that window!

This is the drop-down for all the Effects options.

This is the drop-down for all the Effects options.

As I said above, this product is so easy it may not need a review.  :-)  It really is intuitive.  Just choose an Effect and move sliders around.  It doesn't get easier than that!  And frankly, that is a good thing, because you can spend your energy on exploring creative options instead of figuring out how to use software!

The rest of these are just screenshots of several different Effects.  I just grabbed a wide variety of them, and what you see are the base settings with no adjustments.  In other words, this is exactly what the Preset that I selected each time did to the image.

Now being a creative type, I always go in and make further refinements, but honestly there are a lot of these where you can literally give it 1 click and DONE!  It's the Topaz version of the Easy Button!

So scroll through these screenshots and take a look, then go think about some of your photos and how great they would look if you turned them into art.  Now that I have been using Simplify a lot more, I actually find myself looking at scenes differently than I used to look at them.  I believe it has enhanced my artistic eye to some degree - and now that I have Impression too, I am sure it will continue.

Let's face it - even though I call myself a photographer, it's really art at the heart of it all, isn't it?  And who doesn't enjoy a beautiful piece of art?  Well, maybe Lord Voldemort, but everyone else does, right?!  So get out there and create some art - this world needs all the beauty we can throw at it!

Cracked Fresco

Da Vinci Sketch II

Impasto II

Pastel I

Pointillism I

Renoir I

Urban Street Art III

Van Gogh I

Watercolor III

And just for visibility and comparison purposes (and in case you are now tired of looking at that same photo!), here are a few more other shots from my travels that I adjusted in Impression.

The Oliver St. John Gogarty, a wonderful pub in Dublin - painted in the style of Van Gogh.

This is a side street in Brussels Belgium.  I used the Cave Dweller effect on this one.

Sunrise along the River Liffey in Dublin - adjusted in the style of Cezanne.

Grand Place in Brussels - also used the Cezanne effect here.

Well, that concludes this review of Topaz Impression!  I sure hope you enjoy the product as much as I do - it really is a lot of fun!

Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to leave your comments below or send me a note via the contact form on the blog here!  Thanks!


Note: I am an Affiliate with Topaz Labs, the makers of Topaz Impression and many other great software titles (such as the well-known Topaz Adjust).  You can use the discount code JIMNIX and get 15% off ANYTHING you order on their site.  If you use that code, I get a small commission which I reinvest in the ongoing maintenance of this site.

If interested you can follow this link.