Color Workflow with Nik Collection

Color Workflow with Nik Collection

Color Efex and Viveza

I’ve been looking closely at Color Efex and Viveza, two plugins from the Nik Collection recently. I’ve dabbled with Color Efex in the past, but in terms of a coherent Color Workflow with Nik Collection plugins, well I didn’t really have one. Until now.


A Workflow for Color Grading with the Nik Collection

I have a playlist on YouTube of videos focusing on Nik Collection 6. These videos have been made in April 2024.

The Challenge

Like any photographer, I have a workflow that includes various forks, to go out to different software and return. This requires good integration with Lightroom/Photoshop and the only. tool I have found that gives me part of what I want is the Luminosity Mask plugin Lumenzia.

However, DxO have been working away quietly on their integrations with Photoshop and I thought it would be worth checking this out more closely. My experience of the Nik Collection has been confined to Nik Silver Efex for black and white conversion and Nik Color Efex for adding a bit more zest to certain color images.

Color Efex

The first plugin I looked at was Color Efex, it’s been around a long time and until DxO started re-engineering the Nik Collection hadn’t really changed too much. However in Nik Collection 6 it boasts a fresh interface to belong it in line with the other tools and of course we still have the Control Point and additionally, Control Lines to play with.

Control Points in Color Efex

Color Efex presents as a set of filters, rather like Instagram but better! You choose the filter and apply it. You can then add a second filter by choosing the filter and clicking the + sign next to it. This gives you effectively a layer.

Color Efex with Control Point and Muted Global Filter
Color Efex with Control Point and Muted Global Filter

Now, if I create a Control Point, the opacity of the previous layer is immediately set to zero and the Control Point determines the scope of the application of the filter. You can shift the opacity back, so its possible to have a muted background and a contrasty foreground by adding a control point, bringing back the global filter by setting opacity to 50% and then boosting the Luminence and Chrominance of the Control Point.

Color Efex with Two layers of Pro Contrast
Color Efex with Two layers of Pro Contrast

A second way of approaching this is to apply a global filter and then apply a second filter. In principle this may give a little more flexibility to the control point as it is independent of the first layer. You can see in the panel on the right, the presence of two identical filters. Testing this was inconclusive. However this is a feature of Color Efex, intended to allow the superimposition of different effects through the placement of control points.

Color Efex with Pro Contrast and Sunlight Filters Applied
Color Efex with Pro Contrast and Sunlight Filters Applied

In this example, Pro Contrast has been a[[lied as a global filter, followed by Sunlight, which has been focused through a Control Point to effect the poppy head only. This I think is how Color Efex is intended to work.

Nik Smart Filters in Photoshop
Nik Smart Filters In Photoshop

If we look at the Layers Panel in Photoshop, we see that we have a Nik Color Efex Smart Filter in the layer above the background. Now that we’re talking about Photoshop, the visibility of the image is restricted to the top layer. Note that both of my filters are intact in Color Efex, but “black boxed” by Photoshop – as far as Photoshop is concerned what goes on in Color Efex stays in Color Efex!

Let’s extend this by invoking another plugin from the Nik Collection


Viveza is concerned solely with Color and Tone. It makes sense to work on the poppy’s color and tone in Viveza.

So, back to Photoshop and we choose Viveza from the Nik Collection menu.

Viveza Adjustments
Viveza adjustments using a Control Point on the Poppy Heads

Control Points in Viveza

What is interesting here is that the Control Point behaved differently to the setup in color Efex. Here, the range of controls is not dependent on the filter selected. In fact I can use all of these sliders within the scope of the Control Point.

Curves Tool in Viveza

Below this screen, on script, is a Levels and Curves Tool. Here, any change is applied to the entire image. Whether this is a bug or by design I don’t know.

After I’ve applied my focused changes in Viveza, I save back to Photoshop.

Layers in Photoshop including Viveza
Layers Now Including Viveza

It seems to me that this is a very interesting development. Nik Collection doesn’t simply offer a high level way of working with Photoshop capabilities, instead it offers a completely different set of capabilities based on DxO technology.

Whether it will stand still for long enough to become a serious extension to Photoshop, remains to be seen. The example I’ve shown here is one that demonstrates how these technologies work together and I have to say DxO have done an excellent job with this integration.


Working from Photoshop you can create Smart Filters using multiple plugins that exist in a layer.

The detail of these filters is found in the plugin, it’s a black box to photoshop.

Blending Mode of Viveza Smart Filter set to Multiply
Blending Mode of Viveza Smart Filter set to Multiply

I can invoke the Photoshop blending options governing opacity and blending mode for each filter from the little icon on the right of the filter. This opens up a whole new vista of possibility! In the example above, the blending mode of the Viveza Smart Filter is set to Multiply.

Color Workflow with Nik Collection

So, in conclusion I think it is likely that I will be using these tools within Photoshop to create a Color Workflow. There is clearly a lot more going on here than a simple collection of filters and I’m rather kicking myself for leaving it so long to find out!

Try out the Nik Collection

You can download a trial copy of the Nik Collection for assessment.

Be aware that there will undoubtedly be a major release in the next couple of months, but if you can’t wait, you can buy a copy of the Nik Collection 6 here too.

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