Photoshop is an amazing software, it allows you to do pretty much anything you want with a pixelated image. Whether it’s a photograph or a digital painting doesn’t really matter, the software capabilities let you turn it into something totally different if you want. Most Photoshop users don’t really take advantage of the power of this image editing tool. Amateur photographers just edit their photos or create panoramas, pre-press professionals check and eventually edit the pictures included in the documents they must print, and even graphic designers don’t use half of Photoshop’s features.
What amazes me the most is that you can work with it for ten years and still discover new functionalities every day. It can be little tricks like keyboard shortcuts, or complicated filter combinations to create awesome effects.
In this article, we are looking to extend Photoshop’s capabilities even further by using plugins. Photoshop plugins are little (or big) add-ons that add image editing functionalities or allow you to perform tasks that are impossible or hard to perform with Photoshop. As we think of your wallet, we selected only free Photoshop plugins.
1. Color MegaMix
Modify the colors of your images. This plugin gives you much more advanced color replacement tools than the built-in system. Using the eye-dropper tool, you can pick up to eight source and target colors that will create a truly different image. The examples given on the plugin download page are not that great, but this tool is very powerful and allows for subtle color retouching. It is also very easy to use with a user-friendly interface.
Image source: mehdiplugins.com
2. Wire worm
Taking pictures of old buildings and nice city landscape is enjoyable, but those pictures are too often defaced by ugly wires hanging everywhere. If you are a perfectionist, and I hope you are one if you are a graphic designer, you will want to remove those wires. However, doing it manually in Photoshop can be a tedious task, so this plugin can save you quite a bit of time.
Image source: vicanek.de
If you are using one of the last versions of Photoshop, this plugin will reveal itself useless as exposure correction functionalities are now embedded in the program. I’m still sharing this plugin for those of you with an older version of the software, and I’m sure there are many of you out there.
XPose allows you to take your photos that have poor exposition and take them to a new level. Obviously it would be better to take good photos from the start, but it can be quite hard with cheaper point-and-shoot cameras.
Image source: littleinkpot.co.uk
PNG is probably one of the best image type for sharing pictures on the web, whether it’s photos or images from your portfolio. The main advantage is that it can do high-quality (for the web, not the print kind of high-quality) and still keep transparency in your images. The downside? PNG images are heavier than Jpeg images. This plugin helps you to better compress your PNG images.
Image source: fnordware.com
5. Face Control
Easily change face shapes using this plugin. It uses a technique called “self-organizing lens” to help you create grotesque caricatures or animated portraits.
Image source: redfieldplugins.com
6. Water ripples
How would you go about creating water ripples on a lake with Photoshop? Many normal users would probably have no idea, advanced users could probably do it by spending a lot of time on it. With this plugin you can create water ripples effect in seconds, with many options to change the rendering or shapes of the ripples.
Image source: redfieldplugins.com
7. Alpha works
It’s already possible to remove backgrounds using Photoshop’s traditional tools, such as the magic wand, various selection tools or the background removal option. However, this plugin by Alpha makes it much quicker if you are working on an image with black and white values. Depending on the type of image you are working on, color photo, black and white photo or line art, you can chose among six different options.
Image source: cybia.co.uk
8. Wacom pen tools
Not exactly a plugin, but more of a plugin bundle. This set of plugins helps you to turn your Wacom tablet into a much more efficient tool, so it’s definitely a must-have to become more productive with Photoshop.
Included in the bundle are tools like Despeckler, to help you clean up images by clearing up affected areas and avoid loss of quality, Bit Blaster, to paint directly on your images with cool photographic backgrounds and textures, Virtual Airbrush, to make your Wacom pen behave more like an airbrush, Brush-on noise, to add exactly how much noise you need by varying the pressure you put with your Wacom pen, Super Putty, to stretch and distort images, 3D Chisel, to create freehand emboss or etches, and Metal Leafer, to paint textured gold or silver leaf on your image with pen-point control.
9. B/W Conversion
In Photoshop there are several ways to turn a colored image into black and white, but none of those methods are really satisfactory. The B/W Conversion plugin does only that, but it does it well with more flexibility.
The presets of this plugin should already be enough for most of the users, as they simulate the tonal response of the most popular b/w films. However, if that is not enough for you, you get total control over the tonal response of Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue and Magenta, and the intermediate hues.
If you still want to take it a step further and simulate the grain of black and white photography, you can introduce that grain effect of controllable intensity and density. And of course, if you are happy with the settings you have created, you can save the settings for future use.
Image source: photo-plugins.com
Once they discover the power of Photoshop plugins, some people get very enthusiastic and install tons of plugins. If you are in that situation, the Cybia plugin is for you. With it you can activate and deactivate plugins as you go. This kind of plugin management tool is great to avoid overloading your installation of Photoshop with add-ons you rarely use.
Image source: cybia.co.uk
As you can see with the plugins introduced in this article, Photoshop can still be improved by adding specific features, but most of you were probably already aware of it. Which Photoshop plugins, free or not, have been on top of your list?
FYI – This poll closes at midnight Pacific Time on September 16th. The results of the poll will remain hidden until then so we can reveal the results in a follow up post early next week! Thanks for voting and all your comments!