Impression 2: the democratic art tool

Topaz Impression 2 is an interesting new version of something Topaz Labs has been exploring for some time: art from your photos. Does it make you an artist, if you feed it rubbish? I don’t think so, but it surely makes your creative juices flow.

Topaz Impression 2: the democratic art tool

Topaz Impression 2 aims to relate its users to names as Monet, Van Gogh, and Cezanne, by giving them the tools to create different expressions of their photographs. But is it the aim of every photographer to be a painter?

Don’t get me wrong. I love what Topaz Labs Impression 2 does. The program can paint over 10,000 brushstrokes in less than a second. I am sure Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne and all the others would envy me if they had a chance to see me working on my photographs. But Topaz sells the idea that Impression 2, “helps make your photos more expressive by authentically turning them into art, the way a real painter would: painting brushstrokes one at a time.”

Topaz Impression 2: the democratic art tool

Well, this contradicts the info given: that the program can paint over 10,000 brushstrokes in less than a second. Furthermore, it suggests that if painters could do it the same way, they would not do it as Topaz Labs says they did to create art: painting brushstrokes one at a time. I know it gets confusing here, but I wanted to mention this, as I think it is crucial: you’re not painting as the masters, you’re using an automatic program and do not have the same degree of control they had. But you do have an easier task. Let me add one more note here: I think that one of the worst comments photographers get about their work is: “it looks like a painting”.

I do not think Impression 2 needs to be sold supported by the idea that it transforms your photographs into paintings, or works of art or whatever some people want to call them. I do believe, though, that the program opens an immense playground of possibilities, and that it should be explored  with that in mind. Yes, it does transform your photos – or whatever image you feed it – into something else, from a collection of 143 curated pre-made effects covering every imaginable technique. Furthermore, it allows you to edit these effects and create your own, meaning you can express yourself in infinite ways. That’s, I believe, one of the most interesting aspects of the program.

Topaz Impression 2: the democratic art tool

Do you want to transform all your photographs into something else? I know I don’t. But that does not mean I do not want to create something new using some of my photographs as the starting point. In that sense, Impression 2 is a democratic art tool, because it allows people that otherwise would not be able to paint like Monet, Van Gogh or Cezanne, draw like DaVinci or the cavemen from ancient times to give it a try, even if through a computer program. Maybe they discover a passion that may lead them to take drawing or painting classes.

Completely redesigned, Impression 2 is both a plugin to popular editors like Photoshop and Lightroom and a standalone program. This is something that Topaz Labs has introduced in their recent programs. Impression 2 is, I believe, a fantastic tool that has its uses, also in professional work. Videographers looking for ways to transform static images for their videos may want to include Impression 2 in their workflow.

Topaz Impression 2: the democratic art tool
Impression 2 offers a new interface, more options, including complete control of masks, luminosity, color and more

One example of the potential of Impression 2 is given by the work of fine art photographer Bonnie Al-Rifai. She uses Topaz Impression 2 to help her developing a deep 20-image visual story about the town of Happy, TX. On Topaz Labs’ website the artist says that “Most of my images are about storytelling, joy, and heartache. I like to add a painted look to bridge the gap between real and surreal. Adding that extra pop with one of Impression’s painting effects completes my vision. Impression is so exciting to me because now I can blend the real with the unreal without actually having to go take art classes to learn how to paint.”

Topaz Impression 2 is a step above Topaz Labs Simplify, a program mentioned here at ProVideo Coalition in February 2014. What I wrote then about Simplify is valid for Impression 2: don’t use the program as a crutch to transform uninteresting photographs into works of art. Pick some of your most interesting photos and explore what other visions you can build around them. That’s the real value of Topaz Impression 2!

The program costs $99.99 but until July 7th it is available for $59,99 with coupon code 2IMPRESS.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…