What are Control Points in Nik Collection?
Control points are the method used by Nik Collection plugins to create precise and accurate masks to allow further enhancing an image. When placing a control point on an image the Nik plugin analyzes the image data in the area covered by the control point periphery in terms of contrast, color, and tonal value as a basis for creating a mask.
You can combine multiple control points and detract other points to further fine-tune the mask. Once satisfied with the mask you can make modify the parts of the image affected by the mask. It is the different plugins that decide what controls you have for modifying the image. Control points take a whole different approach to creating precise masks than what you know from Lightroom or Photoshop.
All of the plugins from Nik Collection use control points. There are minor differences between how they work in each plugin, but once you know how to use control points in one of the plugins like Nik Viveza 2, you will quickly be able to create very precise masks in any of the Nik Collection plug-ins. If you learn to work with control points in i.e. Viveza 2, you can effectively use them in each of the plugins.
How To Use Control Points in Nik Viveza 2?
You can think of Viveza 2 as a substitute for the local adjustment brush that you know from Lightroom. but, it is easier to create very precise masks in Viveza 2.
With this image, I want to enhance the texture and details of this bird, but leaving the blue sky untouched.
To open Viveza 2 from Lightroom, just right-click the image and choose Edit In…Viveza 2.
Once Viveza 2 has started you can begin to add some control points, which will help you to create a mask of the areas you want to enhance.
Click on the Add Control-point and then click on the subject that you want to select for enhancing. Nik Viveza 2 will create the selection based on the color, contrast and the similarity of other objects and areas nearby. You can control how large a selection to make by using the size slider for each control point.
To add more control points hold down the Option key (Mac) / Alt key (Win) and click and drag on any existing control point. This copies the settings from the existing control point to the next control points.
If you are going to apply the same settings to a number of control points, you can group them together, so you only have to make the enhancement to one control point within the group instead of all of them. You can select several control points and press CMD+G put them into one group, or you can use the Group button in the right side panel.
Let us take a look at our selection so far by clicking on the show/hide selection icon in the control point list in the right side panel.
Everything in white is selected and will be affected, while every area shown with black color is not affected by the changes we are going to make. Everything that is gray will be partly selected, like the sky just around the seagull.
How To Limit Control Points from Spilling Into Surrounding Area?
In order to make the selection more precise, you should add some neutral control points in the sky area around the seagull and add them into a new group. These will cancel out the effect of the control points that are placed over the bird.
Click the show selection icon again, and you will see the selection for both groups of control points. However, if you just deactivate the group of control points in the sky around the seagull, you will see that the selection for the seagull is much more precise now.
Now that the control points are in place you can begin to create the enhancements we would like to apply. In this example, we will try to increase the brightness and contrast a bit, but especially the details which you control with the structure slider.
Since we have grouped the control points for the seagull, we can pick any of them and modify the sliders and Viveza will apply the same settings for all control points within a group.
To enhance the details within the selection, pull the structure slider to the right and increase it to around 51%.
These changes can be very subtle so you might want to zoom in a bit using the zoom tool in the upper right part of the window.
If you switch to split preview in the upper left corner of the screen you pull the before and after split line back and forth to see whether you are satisfied with the effect.
Depending on your subject you would want to play with more of these sliders. However, the main focus in this tutorial is to show you how to work with control points in Nik Viveza 2.
When you are satisfied with the modifications, click save and Nik Viveza will save the image and import it back to Lightroom as a new file. Note that if you open up Nik Viveza 2 from Photoshop the changes made will appear in a new layer.
Making quick and precise selections is one of the great benefits of using the Nik Collection plug-ins with software such as Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One Pro or Affinity Photo. The force in using Nik is learning to apply the filter effects or sliders as local adjustments using control points rather than applying it to the whole image.
If you regularly use Nik Collection to enhance your photos, I suggest that you take a look at the Nik presets & recipes packages, that will help you get an amazing and unique look in no time.