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Photorealistic 3D Image Production with Google NIK Collection for Photoshop

Google NIK Collection

The Google NIK Collection is an amazing set of free tools for Photoshop that’s perfect for any type of image adjustment. Meant for professional photographers, this suite of tools can transform your renders into real photographs. Currently it consists of the following 7 plugins:

  1. Analog Efex Pro – For simulating vintage cameras.
  2. Color Efex Pro – Complete modern color correction and retouching effects.
  3. Silver Efex Pro – Black and White photographic effects.
  4. HDR Efex Pro – Edit HDR photos.
  5. Sharpener Pro – Professional image sharpening tool.
  6. Viveza – Color and tonal balance adjustments without masks.
  7. Dfine – Professional noise reduction tool.


We’ll be covering the Color Efex Pro tool in this tutorial for attaining that perfect photographic look. Check out and download the Google NIK Collection and follow along. Check the system requirements on their page and install it. The tools should now be listed under the Filters menu, collectively labelled as Nik Collection. A lot of these effects are unique to this plugin and you’ll probably find it hard to recreate the same effect with Photoshop’s native tools. Since it’s absolutely free, I highly recommend it.

Before applying the Color Efex Pro filter, I’ve already processed the raw render using the render passes technique. You can check out that process by following the course here: Photoshop Post Work 2.0

Google NIK Color Efex Pro is the Crème De La Crème of my entire ArchViz workflow – the secret software I use to boost the photographic look of my renders!

The layers are grouped together according to the type of adjustments. The Color Efex Pro tool will be used in a creative manner in order to make the photo truly stand out. This plugin opens up in its own window, giving you the ability to stack up multiple effects. The different effects are categorized on the left based on the type of photograph you’re working on. On the right side is the effects control tray.

Use the Add Filter button for stacking extra effects, and select the effect you want on the left. You’ll get the controls for that effect on the right side. And every effect has its own set of built-in presets you can access by clicking the icon next to its name. Best of all you can quickly browse those presets with the preview thumbnails list.

Favourite Effects

For the image in the video tutorial, I’ve used the following effects:

  1. Bi-Color User Defined – You can tint areas of your image with 2 colors. The default are orange and blue, which work very well for adding chromatic contrast.
  2. Brilliance/Warmth – Three simple controls for adding warmth to the image.
  3. Classical Soft Focus – A vintage effect that adds an out of focus glow.
  4. Contrast Color Range – Controls contrast and brightness based on a set color range.
  5. Cross Processing –  Select the method and its strength to blend in the effect.
  6. Darken/Lighten Center – The same as adding a vignette but with finer controls.
  7. Detail Extractor – Enhances the local contrast to make everything look defined and detailed.
  8. Glamour Glow – Filter dedicated to adding glow or bloom to the image.
  9. Graduated Neutral Density – Simulates the neutral density filters used with DSLRs for darkening overbright regions like the sky.
  10. Levels & Curves – Very powerful curves and level editer with precise point control.
  11. Polarization – Add polarization to the image.
  12. Pro Contrast –  Fine contrast adjustment effect.
  13. Reflector Efex – Works by identifying areas with light and reflection.
  14. Remove Color Cast – For removing color cast that’s inherent in some camera.
  15. Sunlight –  Another effect for adding glow.
  16. Vignette: Lens – A lens based vignette effect.
  17. White Neutralizer – This is basically a white balance tool.


It’s very easy to apply and work with these filters. You really get the feeling of what direction your image should take creatively.

There are an enormous amount of styles available, so just make sure you don’t overdo it. 😉


Talk soon,

P.S.: If you liked these videos so far, you’d love our upcoming training. For more details click here:

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