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The 23 best Photoshop plugins

Photoshop plugins: Powtoon
(Image credit: Powtoon LTD)

Photoshop plugins offer a quick and easy way to extend the tool's capabilities. The right plugin can save you time, unlock new features, and smooth out your workflow. In this article, we've gathered our favourite Photoshop plugins for you to explore. 

Despite strong competition, Photoshop continues to rule the roost as the best photo editing software, and is many designers' go-to tool for image manipulation and creation. But that doesn't mean it can't be improved with a great plugin. 

While it was once solely about pixel-based bitmap images, Photoshop CC is now a capable vector editing tool, with 3D and video support built in. This collection of core features offers a powerful range of possibilities out the box, but occasionally it's worth adding a few extras to get the most out of your investment. 

As it’s been around for such a long time, Photoshop has support from thousands of plugins. It can be bewildering trying to sort through the array of options available, so we've selected the cream of the crop that you can download and use straight away.

Extend your toolkit further by adding some of the best free Photoshop brushes or free Photoshop actions. For any core software updates you need to know about, keep an eye on our Adobe MAX coverage.

Publisher: Filter Forge | Price: $38-$100 at a 75% discount for CreativeBloq readers | Good for: 3D artists, photographers, photo editors, graphic designers

Lots of filter options
Tabs
Backup tool

Filter Forge offers over 12,000 effects and textures, covering almost every use case you can imagine. In version 8.0, tabs have been added. You can now load any image or filter into separate tabs, and compare them or fine-tune their settings. Essentially you now have multiple Filter Forge copies under one hood. Need to move from one computer to another? The new backup tool compresses filters and settings into a single archive file that you can restore later on another computer, another version of Filter Forge or even another platform.  Discover all the new features here.

01. Chameleon Adaptive Pallette

A smart colour swatch system that adapts intelligently as you paint

Publisher: Rico Holmes | Price: $16 | Best for: Digital artists

Flexible layout
Lock or unlock strips
Lots of features

Chameleon Adaptive Palette is a smart palette system that adapts intelligently. It offers a range of strips with slightly functions, but each of which automatically updates based on your chosen colour (select colours from any source, including on your canvas). The strips can be locked to act as a static palette, or unlocked to offer different variations. Watch the video above for more info. This Photoshop plugin is feature-rich but shouldn't tax your CPU. 

(Image credit: Thomas Zagler)

Search for free stock imagery and download directly in PS

Publisher: Thomas Zagler | Price: Free | Best for: Designers

Free plugin
Search from directly within PS
Use the images for free

Need a stock image and working on a tight budget? This Photoshop plugin enables you to search images on Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels, from within Photoshop itself, for options that you can use for free. You then click and the photo will be downloaded and imported directly into PS (or any of the other Adobe apps). Free Stock Search itself is free, too, so it's quids-in all round. If you need something more specific, there are a few more great stock image plugins in this list, so read on. 

(Image credit: Powtoon LTD)

03. Powtoon

Turn static Photoshop images into animated videos

Publisher: Powtoon LTD | Price: Free | Best for: Designers

Free plugin
Simple way to animate designs
Customise the results

Powtoon enables you to turn your Photoshop designs into animated video content, with just one click. Choose to export all Artboards or select Artboards, then enhance your animated design with custom animation, stock footage and imagery, or add a soundtrack. Finally, export directly to YouTube, Facebook, MP4, Vimeo and more. This Photoshop plugin was new in Summer 2019, and has already received some great reviews – and it's free, too.

Photoshop plugins: RH Hover Color Picker

04. RH Hover Color Picker

Fine colour control at your fingertips, when you need it

Publisher: Rico Holmes | Price: $16 | Best for: Artists and designers

Customisable colour sliders
Minimises automatically

If you've ever wished Photoshop's colour picker was just a little less ugly and cumbersome, Rico Holmes' Hover Color Picker might be what you've been waiting for. It's there when you need it with a good-looking set of customisable sliders that give you a lot more control than the standard picker, and when you're done it'll minimise itself automatically.

Photoshop plugins: Ultimate Retouch Panel

05. Ultimate Retouch Panel

Professional retouching functionality

Publisher: Pro Add-Ons | Price: From $29 + tax | Best for: Retouchers and photographers

Cost-effective
Over 200 functions included
Quite old now

For professional retouching results that go a lot further than the default Photoshop filters, it's worth having a look at Pro Add-Ons’ Ultimate Retouch Panel. Although it’s now getting a little long in the tooth, this cost-effective tool features over 200 functions in one panel, including seven frequency separation methods, four fast-retouch methods, and 15 tools for local retouching.

Photoshop plugins: Fontself Maker

06. Fontself Maker

Turn any image into an OpenType font

Publisher: Fontself | Price: £43 for Photoshop, £69 for Photoshop+Illustrator | Best for: Designers

Turn any image into a font
Fine control over features
Actively being developed

Ready to start creating your own fonts? It’s easier than you think with this handy Photoshop plugin. Fontself Maker lets you turn any image or vector layer into colourful bitmap fonts using Photoshop CC 2015.3 and above. It’s worth noting that if you want to create vector-based fonts, the plugin can also be purchased for Illustrator.

Drag and drop layers to create new characters, and capture any colour, shade or texture you desire. All the features you’d look for can be configured and controlled, including per-character kerning, ligatures, character alternates and more. The team behind the tool are also actively developing and updating the plugin – in part supported by Kickstarter backers – so you can expect ongoing feature enhancements.

Photoshop plugins: Fluid Mask 3

07. Fluid Mask 3

A dedicated tool for creating clean, accurate masks

Publisher: Vertus | Price: $99 | Best for: Photographers and designers

Clean, accurate masks
Simplified process

Masking is a fine art in itself, and while Photoshop has good built-in masking tools, there's still plenty of room for a dedicated tool to help you get the cleanest and most accurate masks possible – especially around problem areas such as hair and fur. Fluid Mask makes this normally laborious process quick and relatively easy.

Photoshop plugins: Getty Images

08. Getty Images

Easily add video, photos and vectors from Getty Images

Publisher: Getty | Price: Free (licence images used via plugin) | Best for: Designers

Easily search and filter images
Retain edits when hi-res image purchased

Everyone needs a bit of stock imagery now and then, so why make things difficult for yourself? Getty Images' Photoshop plugin makes it easy for you to search for and filter images and hi-res comps. You can also use it with Illustrator and InDesign. Once you’ve made your edits and used comps to get client approval, you can licence a high-resolution image and retain all your edits making for a smooth workflow.

Photoshop plugins: ParticleShop

09. ParticleShop

Corel Painter tools for Photoshop users

Publisher: Corel (Painter) | Price: $49.99 | Best for: Artists

Non-destructive layer support
11 updated brushes

Painter is a long-established digital art favourite among illustrators, but, thankfully, Corel has finally brought its brush technology to Photoshop with ParticleShop. Brushes can make a huge difference to your creativity and productivity, and this powerful Photoshop plugin offers non-destructive brushstroke layer support and 11 updated brushes, including Debris, Fabric, Fine Art, Fur, Hair, Light, Space, Smoke and Storm. Currently you’ll get a free brush pack when purchasing too.

(Image credit: On1)

10. ON1 Resize

Enlarge photos without losing image quality

Publisher: On1 | Price: $79.99 (currently $59.99) | Best for: Photographers and designers

Enlarge pics up to 1000%
Full file browser
Also offers batch processing

ON1 Resize will enlarge images taken on your DSLR or smartphone by up to 1000 per cent. The plugin uses genuine fractals’ powerful algorithms for optimising clarity and detail enhancement. This is more than just an image resizing tool, however. Featuring a full file browser, it also offers batch processing, image compression and a host of built-in presets and manual controls.

(Image credit: Topaz Labs)

11. B&W Effects

Turn coloured images into beautiful monochrome photographs

Publisher: TopazLabs | Price: $59.99 | Best for: Photographers

Focus on tone and texture
Gives B&W images that pop

More or less any of Topaz Labs’ products would happily make it into this list; its Photoshop plugins are almost a must-have for any serious digital photographer. Whether it’s providing texture effects, making masking easy, or turning your photographs into impressionist paintings, there’s not much you can imagine that Topaz hasn't developed a tool to create. That said, this black and white effects plugin is especially good. Using a unique B&W conversion engine that emphasises tone and texture to help you get B&W images that pop, this should be an essential part of your photo-editing toolset.

Photoshop plugins: Eye Candy

12. Eye Candy

Choose from a wide range of photo effects in this well-known plugin

Publisher: Alien Skin | Price: $89 ($49 upgrade) | Best for: Designers

Great for time-pressured designers
Can tone down default settings
Some effects are cheesy

Alien Skin’s Eye Candy is one of Photoshop’s most recognisable plugins, and has been around for well over a decade. Version 7 provides a huge range of effects ranging from fire to chrome, glass to extrusions. While many seem initially to be useful only for creating cheesy effects, it’s surprising how many scenarios you’ll find them useful in. This is particularly true for freelance designers working to tight deadlines, and when the effects are dialed down from the default settings, they become less cheesy and more useable.

Photoshop plugins: Luminar

13. Luminar

A focused photo editor for use within Photoshop

Publisher: SkyLum | Price: £64 | Best for: Photographers

Simplifies many editing tasks
Useful for working with raw photos

Luminar is a little bit like having a photo editor inside your photo editing software. As odd as that sounds, it’s a focused tool that excels at making the most of your images without any of the non-photography stuff that Photoshop is full of. Using an AI routine alongside some 50 preset effects, this plugin simplifies masking, sky replacement, object removal and more. Available for both Photoshop and Lightroom, it’s well worth a look if you find yourself editing raw photographs frequently. 

(Image credit: DxO / PIXABAY)

14. Nik Collection

A range of powerful photographic plugins available for free

Publisher: DxO | Price: $125 | Best for: Photographers

Top quality plugins
High-impact photographic effects

We've long valued the many photographic plugins featured in the Nik Collection suite of Photoshop plugins. Equip yourself with top quality plugins such as Silver EFEX Pro and Viveza that provide a huge range of high-impact photographic effects. This is a no-brainer (figuratively, of course). The most recent update includes over 40 exciting new presets, and support for hi-DPI displays.

(Image credit: klaia)

15. Renamy

The Photoshop plugin takes the pain out of renaming layers

Publisher: Klaia | Price: $29.99 (limited free version) | Best for: Artists, photographers and designers

Edit multiple layer names
Autocomplete function

Naming your layers right is the first rule of Photoshop etiquette. But sometimes you need to rename layers retrospectively, which can be a pain. With Renamy you can rename multiple layers at once, and there's even a cool autocomplete function to save your typing fingers. There's a basic free version so you can give it a try before you buy.

Photoshop plugins: Perspective Mockups

16. Perspective Mockups

Create cool perspective mockups for your designs

Publisher: BlazRobar | Price: $19 | Best for: Artists, designers

8 layouts to choose from
Easy way to lift your artwork
Fully editable
Site is very sweary

If you can forgive or overlook the gratuitous use of swearing on the Perspective Mockups site, the plugin is definitely worth checking out. Essentially it's a great way to make perspective mockups for your designs. The plugin sits within your Photoshop tools palette and includes a range of different layouts to choose from. Simply click to set. It’s a quick way to give your artwork punch and lift.

Photoshop plugins: FlatIcon

17. FlatIcon

Thousands of free vector icons to download

Publisher: Freepik | Price: Free | Best for: Designers

Search icons within Photoshop
Download as SVG, PSD or PNG

FlatIcon is a large database of thousands of free vector icons that you can download in SVG, PSD or PNG format. This free Photoshop plugin lets you quickly find all the icons without leaving your working environment, inserting them directly into your design from a panel. Not quite what you're after? Take a look at our roundup of free icons for some alternatives.

Photoshop plugins: Shutterstock

18. Shutterstock

Access Shutterstock's full library from within Photoshop

Publisher: Shutterstock | Price: Free (licence images via plugin) | Best for: Designers

Search within PS
Simple workflow

Working across the full Creative Suite, this plugin from Shutterstock provides direct in-app access to the huge range of stock imagery available in the Shutterstock library. Search inside Photoshop, click to select and insert, and license directly for an easier workflow. This is especially useful if you commonly licence royalty-free images for use in your designs.

Photoshop plugins: Blow Up 3

19. Blow Up 3

Create enlargements without compromising on quality

Publisher: Alien Skin | Price: $79 | Best for: Photographers and designers

Advanced algorithm
Improve low-res assets

Blow Up allows you to create pin-sharp enlargements from photos without compromising on quality. The algorithm is more advanced than Photoshop's own bicubic filters, which allows the plugin to produce accurate images without artefacts. This makes it a great tool for designers where clients send over images that aren't of a high-enough resolution.

Photoshop plugins: PhotoMatix Pro

20. PhotoMatix Pro

Create extreme HDR images easily

Publisher: HDR Soft | Price: £69 | Best for: Photographers

6 HDR styles to choose from
Standalone tool also available
Improved toning

PhotoMatix Pro is a high dynamic range (HDR) processing and toning tool that integrates with Photoshop either standalone or as a plugin (depending upon which version you go for). This tool goes beyond Photoshop's built-in HDR processing capabilities, especially with the toning aspects and allows for the creation of extreme HDR images with relative ease.

(Image credit: ON1)

21. ON1 Effects

Explore a huge range of photo effects, filters and presets

Publisher: ON1 | Price: $59.99 | Best for: Photographers and designers

Hundreds of presents, filters, texture and more
Stack multiple effects
Stylise your photos

ON1’s Effects is a handy tool for getting a quick effect on an image, whether that's a colour treatment, addition of texture and noise, or creative borders. This plugin features an effects library (a bit like the filter gallery in Photoshop) and allows you to stack multiple effects to achieve interesting new results.

22. Exposure X4

Simulate film effects for digital projects

Publisher: Alien Skin | Price: From $149 | Best for: Photographers and designers

Plenty of special effects
Portrait touchup tools
Layer up effects

Exposure is a creative tool that allows you to simulate film effects on your digital images. For its X4 release, publisher Alien Skin has improved its shadow and highlight recovery, as well as adding fully adjustable light effects and transform tools that correct tilted or skewed perspectives. Users can also now create smart collections to automatically organise your photo library (and, boy, is that required around here). Exposure X4 is available as a plugin for Photoshop or Lightroom, or as a complete standalone raw photo editor.

(Image credit: GuideGuide)

23. GuideGuide

An easy way to create grids and guidelines

Publisher: Cameron McEfee | Price: From $35/year | Best for: Designers

Pinpoint accurate grid
Negative margins possible
Save preferences

GuideGuide is a simple Photoshop plugin makes it easy to create a grid system in your document, hijacking the built-in guides system to create a pinpoint accurate grid according to your chosen settings. You can use negative margins for special hanging columns, separately define individual margins and gutters, and save your preferred options for quick access in the future. Perfect for anyone using a grid to help them create their layouts.

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