Topaz Labs Star Effects

Cross-Screen Lighting Effects Plug-in for Photoshop

At this point, you're undoubtedly aware of some of the latest lighting effect plug-ins on the market. These do everything from the more traditional cross-screen filter effects to creating dramatic depth through a variety of glistening, glamorous approaches. In this case, Topaz Labs provides the ability to either allow the software to find your highlights, or use a virtual brush to select and add the areas to include or exclude from your image.

Use of higher contrast images with a darker background definitely produces the best results, but use of anything other than the full image will not work, as there's no support for an alpha transparency layer. Further, if you wish to replicate the last effect, simply pressing Command-F (PC: Ctrl-F) doesn't duplicate the last use.

The presets included seem to use median settings, as they're a bit too much as a starting point. Using these presets to see the type of effect you have is how they're most useful; then, by adjusting the threshold up or down, it's easier to see what settings produce the best results. After a bit of use, setting up user presets is easy and highly recommended. Topaz adds some nice new features to this update (now v1.1) with automatic light source detection and split view preview mode in their updated user interface.

At less than $30, Topaz Labs Star Effects is really a lot of fun to use on images with a defined, brilliant point of light, but it's very easy to overuse these effects. For some sparkle, a little glow, a bit of cross-screen, or even dazzling science-fiction effects, this is an affordable, effective plug-in that just needs a few more minor things to be a real superstar.

Company: Topaz Labs, LLC
Price: $29.99
Rating: 3
Hot: Lots of variations; brush controls affected areas; ease of use; quality
Not: No transparency support; no duplicate last settings shortcut