Smooth edges and surfaces on photos are easy to achieve! You can also choose either to remain within the reality of images or go cartoonish or completely out of this world. This, somehow, sums the capabilites of Topaz Clean, one of the tools with the least controls to use in the Topaz Labs family.
In fact, Topaz Clean only has three main controls to work with: Clean, Edge and Texture. They're, somehow, self explanatory, but let me talk a bit about each of them, using Topaz Labs words:
Clean tab is where you can flatten texture, smooth out features and remove weak details from your image. Even when removing the undesired textures and features from your image, Topaz Clean is able to preserve structural integrity of your subject. The sliders in the Clean tab are the main ones used for portraiture and skin cleaning. The smoothing capabilities allow for a fresh, clean look.
The Edges tab is used to enhance and stylize the edges and lines in your image. The sliders here make it easy to create well-defined lines by sharpen and accentuating key edges in your image. Also, increasing the Sharpness slider will allow you to create curly, vector-style effects for a creative or more dramatic look. It will also produce more pronounced edges with higher contrast.
The Texture tab is unique because it allows for additional texture refinement. The sliders in this tab are used to reintroduce original image detail back into the image – after the smoothing and edge enhancement process.
What's special about this technique, states Topaz Labs, “is that it refines image features, yielding natural and impressive results in your photos.”
The usual interface for Topaz programs is present in Topaz Clean. The seven presets (yes, seven) appear on the left side on the screen, with the tools bar on the right, the center occupied by the preview image. There's nothing hidden, and the tooltips appearing when you move the mouse over each slider help to guide users just starting to use this extension to Photoshop or Lightroom. The chosen effect is presented on the screen almost immediately so it is easy to see the results. Some effects may take a bit longer, because there's a lot of processing to do, in the background, for things to seem so easy. Imagine, so much magic just by moving a slider.
When using Topaz Clean it is easy to get so excited with the options that you lose contact with reality. Beware, because some results can look too “plastic”. Using Texture at the end of your editing is a good solution to recover some of the original aspect of the image. Still, if you want to go the cartoonish or out of this world style, Topaz Clean will take you there, showing its versatility.
Usually priced at $29.99, Topaz Clean will be available until the 31st of May for $14.99, 50% off the original price, using the coupon “mayclean”. If you're not sure if this is the program you need for your worklow with Photoshop or Lightroom, give it a try. Topaz Labs has demonstration versions of their popular programs that can be used to test their potential.