Getting Creative With Topaz Impression


Topaz Labs recently released a new standalone image processor called Topaz Impression and I wanted to show you how it works and the kinds of things you can create with it.

However, I should make it very clear up front, that this is not a standard keep it real kind of image processor, so if you cringe at the thought of image manipulation you may want to turn away now.


What is Topaz Impression?

On the surface Topaz Impression is a digital image processor which allows you to take any photograph and convert it into something that resembles painted or drawn art. If this sounds familiar you might be thinking of their other product, which is a plugin called Topaz Simplify (which I covered in a past article here on DPS Create Art with your Photos Using Topaz Simplify), and it does provide some similar functionality, but works in a different manner.

The basic difference is that Simplify works by removing or softening the details and edges within a photograph that you present to it, while Impression works by creating different brush strokes based on the customizations that you choose.


The other great benefit of Topaz Impression is the user interface, which is fairly intuitive and easy to navigate, while still being fairly powerful in terms of the customization options you have available to you – in comparison Simplify’s interface can be kind of cumbersome to use.

Finding Your Way Around Topaz Impression

As I mentioned, one of the great things about Impression is that it’s fairly simple to use. Impression’s user experience is built on the idea of starting with a preset and then customizing that further to suit the needs and vision of the artist. A basic workflow would look something like this:

Pop in an image


You can do this either by choosing “Edit In Topaz Impression” from your Lightroom library or, as seen further above, you can simply uploading a photograph directly into Impression from your computer’s hard drive.

Select a preset you like


There are a handful of presets to choose from in a variety of categories: Ancient, Impressionistic, Modern, Painting, Pencil, Charcoal & Pastel, and of course you can create your own as you work with the platform and find that you prefer certain tweaks over other ones.

Modify to your liking


Like any good digital photo editor you have the ability to modify the chosen preset to suite the image you’ve uploaded. This is where Impression really can come to life. As you can see in the screen capture above, the preset has been changed in a number of ways to create an image that is drastically different than the preset I’d selected.

More on Customization Inside Topaz Impression

The customizer in Topaz Impression is where the magic happens. Inside the customizer you have a number of controls available to you, from 14 different types of brush strokes to multiple preloaded textures.

You have the ability to control things like the size of the brush, the amount and opacity of the ‘paint’ that’s making up your image, the width and length of your stroke, and spill, smudge and coverage give you even more creative control over the look of the image.


However, you don’t just control the way the brush strokes are presented, but Impression also lets you control how the various colors of your image are displayed. From a basic global setting, to selectively adjusting the various tones that make up your image you have the ability to get fairly specific with your modifications here.

One other interesting aspect of Impression is that it gives you the ability to control the direction of your lighting. Of course this can’t control what’s happening inside your photograph, but rather, it controls the way the lighting effects the textures that you’ve applied to the painting allowing you to match this up with the lighting inside your photograph.

A Few Feature Requests and Suggestions

This is version 1.0.0 and I’m sure the people at Topaz have plans to build out Impression in the future, but there are a few things missing that I’d personally like to see included in future versions.

  1. Local Adjustments – At the moment there’s no way to go about modifying on a local level. This does keep the interface and customization options easy to learn and use, but limits what you can do in a way.
  2. Custom Brushes/Textures – At the moment you’re stuck using the ones that Topaz has provided with the platform. I’d like the ability to create and/or upload our own brush strokes.
  3. Undo/History – At the moment all that is available to you is a one button reset button which will take you back to square one. I’d like the option to be able to undo iterative changes, or better yet, a history option similar to Lightroom.

Topaz Impression in Action

Here’s a quick look at Topaz Impression in action. If you want to skip the Lightroom part just jump to the 5:30 mark in the video:

Overall Thoughts

As I said at the start of this article – Topaz Impression is a program for those willing to put their photography through a digital manipulation workout – but it is quite fun. I think it’s a great start and could become an interesting niche style for some photographers out there, however with it’s present iteration being a bit lacking in terms of local adjustment capabilities or the freedom to at least apply our own textures within the program, it leaves a little to be desired.



Have you used Topaz Impression? What have you thought about it? Maybe share some of your before and after images below.

And if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself Topaz does offer a 30 day trial so you can see how it works before you buy.

Read more from our Post Production category

John Davenport is the creator of PhoGro - Gro' Your Photography a community that aims to help you grow your photography through engagement with other photographers. John also offers a free email course 6 Weeks to Better Photos that covers the most important elements for getting started with photography.

  • Michael Owens

    John, may I ask – are you merely a user of this program, or are you paid (or given the product) for advertising it.

    As, if it was merely a user based review only, I’d expect alternatives to be reviewed at the same time for comparison.

    Instead, you mention another plugin by Topaz, it seems overly biased imo.

    I’ve said this before on various other plugins and tools that have been reviewed here, so it’s not just a personal attack.

    I’m open to reviewers pushing products, but it has to be made clear to us readers that it is in fact just that, an advert.

  • Hi Michael – John gets nothing or has not been paid for reviewing this product. He does so because he uses it. The link is a dPS affiliate link so if anyone does purchase it we get a small commission. That is partly how we are able to keep the site running and provide this content for free for you and all the readers. You can read our disclaimer here. Hope that helps.

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  • I have been experimenting with this software and agree it is fun to use. For a hardcore photographer who only wants photorealistic results then it probably has no place. If you are into fine art then it is worth a look. I accept it does not have any local adjustment feature but if you bring the results back into Photoshop as a separate layer then you can mask back in some details of the original which can serve to say highlight a particular object.

    The following link to Flick is an album of the results of my experimenting. It is experimental so some have come out better then others. (One was selected for Flick’s explore)

  • Mike Attanasio

    Fantastic program, will be even better with updates if I know Topaz….

  • Michael Owens

    Affiliated? Right – that’s all I ask, make that clear at the beginning of any article, rather than hidden away in disclaimer notes.

    As any article I come across that is pushing a product, I never actually believe the product is as good as written, as a.) are they being pushed to write a good review b.) they getting the product for free and of course c.) are they being paid to do so

    Especially as I said, there is nothing in the article about alternatives, just this Topaz one, it would come across (at least to me) as more impartial if there were comparisons to the same, or very similar products that can do the same thing.

    That’s all Darlene 🙂

  • Thanks for the feedback Michael sorry I was a bit late to respond here.

    To answer your question directly. I am a user of Topaz products and thoroughly enjoy their offerings. While I am also affiliated with their products (on my own site) when I write for DPS I am not doing so out of promotion for a product, but rather, to share something I’ve found interesting in the photography world with the readers here. DPS inserts their affiliate link as a way to help pay for the costs of keeping a site the size of DPS going. I get nothing out of an article like this from Topaz.

    With that said – I honestly don’t see anything wrong with not mentioning other competitors in an article like this (if there even are any for Impression I’m not aware of them). The article as it stands is an overview of Topaz Impression, much like if I were to write an article overviewing a new release of Lightroom or Photoshop, there’s no need to list competitors on the market – I mean what would that look like?

    Also of note is that Topaz Impression along with the rest of the Topaz line of products have free 30 day trials which allow you, if you’re interested in the overview that I’ve provided, to test drive the program and form your own opinion of it and not just relying on what I’ve mentioned above.

    Hope this clears things up for you.

  • You’ve got some great results with Impression – color me impressed!

    And you make a good point about using Photoshop to do more local adjustments, I guess what I was hoping for was the ability to switch brush strokes within Impression to allow different kinds of strokes within the same image, though I suppose you could hack this too with masks in Photoshop and just layer them on top of one another, but that’d be a lot of work.

  • Great shot! 🙂 And yes this being 1.0.0 I’m sure with time Impression will get a lot better.

  • Thanks and I agree with your thoughts on switching brush strokes.

  • Michael Owens

    Thanks for the reply, but after reading what you have said, I do feel you are pushing a product you endorse on your personal website, which to me, kind of negates any argument of ‘showcasing’ it here for DPS readers.

    If it was a product you didn’t endorse, or promote personally, I would feel differently.

    As for showcasing alternatives, I think its a good idea personally, as I would want to know how it stands up to other similar products, that offer the same or slightly different results, for the buck I would be outlaying.

    30 day trials are nothing new, most decent plugin makers (or standalone products) offer this.

    But, thanks for the reply anyway! Darlene cleared it up for me yesterday!

  • I appreciate your opinion and value it Michael. I assure you we aren’t “pushing” anything. John wanted to write about it as he personally tried it and thought it was interesting. It’s just to present options to the readers. You don’t have to buy it or even use our link if you decide to do so. It’s up to you.

  • Michael – to answer your concerns in regards to John who wrote this piece:

    a) I did not ask him to write it he suggested the topic
    b) he got nothing for free or has he been paid or get any of the commission on any sales
    c) John is a paid writer but he is paid a flat rate for all his dPS articles not just this one.

    Perhaps John can add in the comments some other alternatives, but I can’t say if he’s tried anything similar. This is a brand new product and I haven’t seen anything else similar recently. As for dPS getting paid – any commissions we might make on such an article help us continue to provide content for free as I said. We have staff to pay (myself included) and writers, and associated web and business costs. Having a website of this size isn’t free. We make income by making small commissions on things and our ebooks. If we did not do these things we’d have to charge or make it a paid membership site like some do.

    This is pretty standard practice and if you look at most of the other photography sites you read they are likely the same. Amazon links, affiliate links all for commissions or referral fees and products for sale. It’s not possible to run a website/business like this for free. I understand you feel it’s somehow biased and I understand you do not like it. I’m sorry you feel that way.

  • I’ve been really pleased with the effects I have been able to create using Topaz Impression. Some examples of my efforts are here:

    In addition to the brush and stroke adjustments, I find the ability to change selected hues within an image is what really takes an image to the next level. I, too, have requested improvements including the ability to apply a custom adjustment brush dipped in whatever color you wish from a color palette derived from the image. I’ve also been able to create some interesting variations by adding lighting effects using Topaz Star Effects after applying Impression.

  • Michael Owens

    Hi, my only gripe is as he said previously, he’s affiliated with them on his personal website.

    So his article here, for me at least, seems somewhat biased. Hence the ask for alternatives, if there is none, then make that clear.

    If it was a product that he was not affiliated with, then I’d have more respect for him, and the product.

    I guess I’m just more vocal than some, I cant help that. I enquire, dissect, take in and reply.

  • Right I get that – however he gets nothing other than his regular dPS fee so he stands to gain nothing except providing information.

  • rebecca

    I love it. I have had some pretty neat results and I haven’t even gotten into all the customizations.

  • To second what Darlene has said below – I came to her with the idea for the article with full knowledge of not being allowed to use my personal affiliate link here on DPS or refer to it on my own site.


    And one other question for you…

    “If it was a product you didn’t endorse, or promote personally, I would feel differently.”

    Does this mean that in your mind, anyone who writes an article endorsing any product they like is automatically biased? What if this article was about Lightroom or Photoshop?

    Is it simply because Topaz products aren’t at the same level as these more widely used products that you make these claims – or would you feel the same way if I’d written an overview of a new Lightroom feature and failed to include the various Lightroom competition within the text?

  • Thanks for responding here Darlene. To answer the question about other related products, I haven’t really seen anything similar to Impression, with the exception of Simplify, that doesn’t mean that competition doesn’t exist just that it’s not on my radar.

  • Affiliation on my own personal site where I earn commissions for sales referred and writing an article for DPS where I do not are two very different things.

    The only motivation for writing this article was that I enjoyed the program, thought it offered a new unique way to process photographs, and wanted to share it with the much wider DPS audience. If you still feel that my opinions are biased download the trial for yourself and form your own – it really is that simple.

  • It offers a lot to learn and a lot to love. The feature I like best (so far…still learning) is its ability to locate eight different colors in a photo, or at least those of the eight that are present, and modify the intensity, hue and strength of each. Given that, I wish future versions would open up with just the color mod capability only, and then let me add the presets if I wished to move into the more creative mode. Here’s an example. The original is first.

  • Michael Owens

    Yes. I would. As I want an article to be informative, but also to offer alternatives to the people who can’t maybe afford the big ones.

  • Michael Owens

    Yeah. I get that too. But what’s to say that topaz doesn’t offer incentives for him to push the product elsewhere.

  • They don’t.

  • Well – okay then as long as you’re consistent.

  • Michael Owens

    Now we can put this to bed lol

  • Michael Owens

    My point, like at the beginning, was we need clarification on the articles you provide then.

    A simple disclaimer at the beginning stating you are nothing but a user, and you have not been paid to publish a biased review in return for anything.

    Simple really.

  • They don’t. I’m an affiliate of theirs too. How affiliate sales and referrals work is you use the unique link they give you and share it on your website, in emails, FB, etc. That tracks clicks and you get credit for any sales. They do not offer any other “incentives” other than sales. Please just trust me when I say no one is out to do anything with ulterior motive here.

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  • Karen

    I’m enjoying experimenting with Topaz Impression with my photos. I’ve always wished I could paint as an artist but have no painting skills.

  • Karen

    I like it what I can do to my photos with it

  • I don’t think honest people should be punished for the acts of those who try to deceive. Not to mention a person who is trying to deceive their audience could just as easily put the same “disclaimer” at the top of the article anyway.

    Idk about you, but I’d hate to see an internet where every article written about anything started with “DISCLAIMER: I’m not affiliated with this product in anyway shape or form, I was not asked to write about this product by the manufacture, and I am not being compensated beyond my regular fee for providing my opinions on it” – does this really solve anything? To me it’s not simple at all, it looks ugly, and it provides little value to the article as it’s just as easy to lie about this, which someone who is trying to deceive you, probably has no problem doing so.

    To me providing something like this reminds me of the 3 year old covered in chocolate next to an open cookie jar saying “What cookies?”

  • Michael Owens

    Now you’re just being condescending. It’s all about transparent and I personally feel you were misleading us.

    I don’t see you reviewing a non affiliated product here.

  • Michael Owens

    Good to know. All I ask for is transparency. There is nothing wrong with like I’ve said to the author, and having a sentence saying ‘I am/am not affiliated with this product’.

    As for me I’d prefer to trust a reviewer who is not gaining a thing by pushing a review here.

    As in regard to someone who is, it just feels overly biased. Personal opinion, and one I’m sharing.

    That’s all.

  • Grumpy Binka

    There’s been quite a few programs and techniques that I’ve used based on articles on DPS. I personally don’t feel misled at all. To me, the article simply says, “Here’s something neat, try it or don’t.” Furthermore, I don’t care at all if it’s an affiliated product or not. If it opens my eyes to something that enables me to make more art that I enjoy, I couldn’t care less if there’s some kind of commission for the article/sales or not.

    In my opinion, you’re missing the point. I think it’s a neat program that deserves attention, and I’m definitely not affiliated.

  • I’m sorry you feel this way – the article is intended to be an overview of a new product that I found interesting – that is all.

    I thought I did a good job providing reasons why I personally enjoyed the software, the type of photographer I thought would enjoy it (basically someone like myself), and even provided some suggestions for where it could stand some improvement if Topaz employees happened to be reading.

    I stand by my comment above that a disclaimer of non-affiliation is unnecessary and doesn’t provide the security that you are after.

  • Thanks for the support happy you didn’t feel misled 🙂

  • Grumpy Binka

    Here’s a few quickies that I did this morning within an hour of picking up the trial. I have to say, I love this program.

  • Darcy Wheeler

    Impression was just updated to version 1.1 this week. You can read more about the update here:

  • Nate Whinnery

    I’m tempted to try this out to see how it matches up against Alien Skin’s Snap Art. Anyone else do a comparison?

  • ghfisher

    I have used layers – added different ‘artists’ in Impression and then blended them using opacity. It works well and easily. I like it. I especially like using one of the line drawing modules (DaVinci) at about 15% with a watercolor module. It gave a bit of subtle definition to the watercolor that to me was pleasing. It also is a lot of fun.

  • Josep

    I’m sure that the pictorialism addict photographers of the early twentieth century would not hesitate to use this application.
    As it has been said, the program takes full meaning when used to generate layers in Photoshop and look at the effects of mask and layer blending.
    However, the greatly expanded 1.1 release is now quite slow.
    Here you can find some examples from Tuscany landscapes:àtiques/Viatges/Tuscany


  • Josep

    I’m sure that the pictorialism addict photographers of the early twentieth century would not hesitate to use this application.
    As it has been said, the program takes full meaning when used to generate layers in Photoshop and look at the effects of mask and layer blending.
    However, the greatly expanded 1.1 release is now quite slow.
    Here you can find some examples from Tuscany landscapes:


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