Topaz Simplify Review

Topaz Simplify - turn your photos into art!

What is Topaz Simplify?  Simply put, it is software that allows you to turn your photos into other works of art, such as oil paintings, watercolors, cartoons and sketches.  It’s awesome!

There are a LOT of apps out there that fall into the “serious editing” category for fine art photography and travel photography, such as Topaz Adjust (which I enjoy using).  These are the apps that you would use most often for editing what I like to consider “serious photos” - they can add drama, color, interest and more. They are great apps, and they have an important place in any serious photographer’s workflow.  We need apps like that.  They are necessary.

Fun is an important part of photography

But I think there is another category out there that we frequently overlook and ignore, and that’s the FUN category.  In my opinion, Topaz Simplify fits perfectly in this spot. It’s just plain fun!

Unlike other apps, where I go in, edit the photo, experiment a little to get the look I am after, and move on, when I am in Simplify I just enjoy all the options that are laid out before me.  It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet of creative awesomeness!  It’s honestly fun to just click on the different presets and see what ideas come to you.  (Note: alert the family that you are going to be busy for a while!)

But to be clear, you can get some SERIOUS results with the product.  It’s not just about fun, although I think that is a big part of it (and there IS such a thing as SERIOUS FUN, right?).  I can ABSOLUTELY see a place for these in my overall body of work, as a serious creation of art that people would be interested in purchasing or licensing.  

These outputs from Simplify are so interesting, beautiful and full of character that they will cause people to take an interest in them.  In short, these are still seriously compelling images, even though they may not be a photo in the traditional sense.

After all, photography is art, isn’t it?  Why not produce some really artistic photos?

What does Topaz Simplify look like?

So, let me give you insight into how this product works, and how it is laid out.  It’s all very simple, and you will get the most out of it if you just spend a little time playing around with it.  Isn’t it always that way?

So first things first - if you already use any Topaz products, then this product will immediately feel familiar to you. You can see a screenshot of what I call the “start page” below.  

The image I am sharing in this review is the main aisle of St. Thomas Church in New York City.  It’s on 5th Avenue, and I assume it is pretty well known.  It’s rather beautiful as you can see here, but of course I have a serious thing for shooting churches.  I rarely go to church at home, but when I travel I make up for it!  Of course, I try and show up when there is NOT a service going on.  :-)

Here's the image itself, prior to importing into Simplify, just so you can get a better look at it (note: this is a 3 image HDR created in Photomatix, prior to coming to Simplify):

Up in the top left corner of the Start Screen image above, you see the list of Collections.  These are groupings, or categories of the different Presets that are available.  I can’t possibly go through all of them, so further down below I have shared some of my favorites from Line and Ink, Painting, and Sketch.  

Under the Collections section are the Presets that correspond to each Collection.  So as you click on each Collection name (BuzSim, Line and Ink, Painting, Sketch, etc), the list of Presets below it will change, and you will see the Presets that fall under that Collection.  Make sense?

In the center, you see your photo that was brought into Topaz Simplify.

In the upper right corner, you can show a Loupe (for a closer inspection of a portion of the image) or a Histogram.  Pretty straight forward.

Below that, you can click on Global Adjustments, Local Adjustments, or Finishing Touches...each of which will present you with a lot of options for further refinement of your work of art.  Here are some screenshots of the Global Adjustments panel so you can get a closer view of the menus:

Now in most products these days, there are lists of presets, and some of them are even pretty good.  However, I tend to skip Presets and go straight into a custom edit of any photo.  It's just what I like to do.

But NOT with Simplify - I love these Presets!  You can literally do a one-click edit of a photo and you are all done.  It’s really easy, obviously quick, and quite fun.  So if this is your approach, then you select the Collection, choose the Preset, and that’s it!  Game over.

Now, you may want to go in and do some additional customization to the image after clicking the Preset, and that’s what you do via all the menu options on the right side of the frame (which are represented by the screenshots above and below). 

As you can see, there are 3 sections on the right panel: Global Adjustments, Local Adjustments, and Finishing Touches.  I showed you Global Adjustments above.  So, here are some screenshots for Local Adjustments and Finishing Touches.

Depending on the Preset that I choose, I sometimes find myself going in to dial back the amount of detail still left in the image, for example.  Again, this is all very simple and straightforward - you literally just drag sliders left or right.  It can’t really be made any easier.

Also, the Local Adjustments section is very powerful.  You can make all sorts of changes to the image and really customize it extensively!  Spend some time here - you will thank yourself for doing so.

Show me some Presets, Jim!

Ok, here you go.  Below are some screenshots of some of the Preset Menus; specifically, those that full under Line and Ink, Painting, and Sketch.

Line and Ink Preset menu

Line and Ink Preset menu

Painting Preset menu

Painting Preset menu

Sketch Preset menu

Sketch Preset menu

And just to give you a more complete view of Topaz Simplify, below are a bunch of screenshots from some of my favorite Presets (which come from a few different Collections).  Take a look and imagine the possibilities - they really are endless!

Link and Ink IV Preset option - very interesting, right?

Link and Ink Preset: Black Line Only II - like a drawing.

Line and Ink Cartoon option - isn't that kinda fun?

Painting Preset, Dynamic Boost option

Painting Preset: Impressions Color - this is one of my favorites to experiment with!

Painting Preset: Watercolor option - another one that is quite fun to play around with

Sketch Preset: Color Sketch II

Sketch Preset: Pencil Hard on Black

Well as you can plainly see, there is a LOT for you to experiment with in Topaz Simplify.  Hopefully, this review has given you some ideas, too!

And to further get you fired up about this product, here are 3 photos that I have taken over the years in London.  This is a familiar subject to most - Big Ben being a bit famous and all - but these shots are taken from different vantage points and under different weather conditions.  As you can see, there is a lot of variance between them and I was able to creatively apply some effects in Topaz Simplify.  I rather like the outcomes!

Ok this one isn't London - it's a nice sunset I shot out in Oregon...all done up with Simplify!

Well, that concludes this review of Topaz Simplify!  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 Simplify 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 click their logo below, or follow this link.