Color Efex Pro, part of the DxO Nik Collection, is a terrific plug-in with an amazing array of filter effects, each of which has its own controls. Some of them have uses which are obvious straight away, but some… well, not so much. So now and again I have a trawl through the list to see what I can find, and I discovered the Photo Styliser is rather good at creating a warm, contrasty film-like effect.
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Step 01: Check out the presets
When you select any of the Color Efex Pro filters, you should see a small icon to the right of the name, and when you click this the left sidebar displays thumbnail previews of preset filter settings that are already built in. There’s not much here to suggest why this is called the Photo Styliser, or what process they have in common, but that’s OK because we’re not going to use any of these presets anyway.
Step 02: Choose the Copper option
It doesn’t much matter which one we pick because we’re going to apply the filter effect settings manually. Over in the tools panel on the right there’s a drop-down menu with five different choices, and you’ll see a preview of the effect in the main window when you hover over them. We want the ‘Copper’ option near the bottom.
Step 03: Adjust the settings
The initial effect was too strong, so it’s been toned down a little here. The Warmth slider was OK left at 80%, but the Strength slider needed to come down from its original setting (also 80%) to around 30%. This looks about right and just needs a little further tweak…
Step 04: Restoring the sky
The trouble with most landscape warmup effects is that they’re indiscriminate – they warm up the sky as well as the landscape, whereas in the real world, a low sun casts a warm glow only on the land. The sky might get a little warmer, but shouldn’t have the orange tone you often see in ‘artificially’ warmed up landscapes.
The answer, in Color Efex Pro, is really simple. We just click the button for a ‘negative’ control point (circled) over in the right toolbar, then click on the image where we want to apply it. The upper left corner of the sky is a good spot in this picture. This drops an opacity control point on the image – in other words, the zone around this control point has the filter effect removed. You can drag this control point to move it if it’s in the wrong place, and drag its size handle to make it bigger or smaller.
I think the finished effect is pretty good. I’m not sure what it’s got to do with the name the filter – Photo Styliser – but this Copper effect has produced a rich, warm tone that I’ve spent many hours trying, and failing, to achieve with a regular filter effect (such as Photoshop’s rather feeble Photo Filters).