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The 25 best Photoshop plugins

Photoshop plugins
(Image credit: Adobe)

Photoshop plugins make Adobe's flagship software even more impressive. The perfect plugin saves you time, speeds up your work and unlocks new features, but it can take a while to find the right ones for you. So, we've gathered together our favourite Photoshop plugins, both free and premium, and explained what they do – so you can pick the right ones for your workflow.

Photoshop is the go-to tool for image manipulation and creation, fighting off the competition from other picks for our best photo editing software list. And it can be improved further with a brilliant plugin.

You can extend your toolkit further by adding some free Photoshop actions. For any core software updates you need to know about, keep an eye on our Adobe MAX coverage.

01. Chameleon Adaptive Pallette

A smart colour swatch system that adapts intelligently as you paint

Specifications
Publisher: Rico Holmes
Price: $16
Best for: Digital artists
Reasons to buy
+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. 

02. CSS3Ps

The best Photoshop plugin for web developers

Specifications
Publisher: CSS3Ps
Price: Free
Best for: Web developers
Reasons to buy
+Convert layers into CSS3+Cloud-based+Supports a bunch of features
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

If you're a web developer, the CSS3P Photoshop plugin is here for you. It turns your Photoshop layers into CSS3. You simply select the layers you want to convert to CSS3 and click the CSS3P button to make it work, just like magic. It's cloud-based so there are no pesky updates to worry about, and you can check out your work easily. Supporting a range of features including multiple layers selection, vendor prefixes, stroke, size and inner shadow, this is a powerful – and very handy – little plugin.

Photoshop plugins: Brushbox

(Image credit: Derrick Barth)

03. BrushBox

The best Photoshop plugin for organising your brushes

Specifications
Publisher: Derrick Barth
Price: $15
Best for: Designers, digital artists
Reasons to buy
+Easy to find your brushes+Quick and easy to set up
Reasons to avoid
-Not the nicest UI

If you find yourself lost in a sea of brushes with Photoshop, then Photoshop plugin BrushBox could be the answer. BrushBox enables you to organise your brushes better by organising them into groups, which can be colour coded (and even have different backgrounds). You can tag your favourites, and override a brush's default settings to save you making the same changes over and over again. 

This isn't that useful if you only use a handful of Photoshop brushes in their default sessions, but if you've built up any sort of brush collection at all, this one's worth a look (to find more PS brushes, see our Photoshop brushes roundup). 

04. AD Brutus Symmetry

A fun Photoshop plugin for drawing symmetrically

Specifications
Publisher: Alex Dukal
Price: $10
Best for: Digital artists
Reasons to buy
+Draw or paint symmetrically+Save with one click+Free updates

Artists who want to play around with symmetrical designs or drawing can do so easily with the AD Brutus Symmetry Photoshop plugin. Simply place your grid or guide on your work and see it reflected where you choose. You can flip layers or selections and also rotate your work. Saving is easy too, as you can save either the active layer or a merged PNG version of the current view with just one click. This might not be the most useful plugin ever, unless you work consistently with patterns, but it is definitely a fun one to experiment with. 

Photoshop plugins: free stock search

(Image credit: Thomas Zagler)

Search for free stock imagery and download directly in PS

Specifications
Publisher: Thomas Zagler
Price: Free
Best for: Designers
Reasons to buy
+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 app). As the name suggests, 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. 

Photoshop plugins: Powtown

(Image credit: Powtoon LTD)

06. Powtoon

Turn static Photoshop images into animated videos

Specifications
Publisher: Powtoon LTD
Price: Free
Best for: Designers
Reasons to buy
+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 has some great reviews – and it's free, too.

Photoshop plugins: RH Hover Color Picker

07. RH Hover Color Picker

Fine colour control at your fingertips, when you need it

Specifications
Publisher: Rico Holmes
Price: $16
Best for: Artists and designers
Reasons to buy
+Customisable colour sliders+Minimises automatically+Looks good 

If you've ever wished Photoshop's colour picker was just a little less ugly and cumbersome, the Rico Holmes' Hover Color Picker Photoshop plugin 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

08. Ultimate Retouch Panel

Professional retouching functionality

Specifications
Publisher: Pro Add-Ons
Price: From $29 + tax
Best for: Retouchers and photographers
Reasons to buy
+Cost-effective+Over 200 functions included
Reasons to avoid
-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 30 tools for local retouching.

Photoshop plugins: Fontself Maker

09. Fontself Maker

Turn any image into an OpenType font

Specifications
Publisher: Fontself
Price: £45 for Photoshop+Illustrator
Best for: Designers
Reasons to buy
+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 so you can expect ongoing feature enhancements.

Photoshop plugins: Getty Images

10. Getty Images

Easily add video, photos and vectors from Getty Images

Specifications
Publisher: Getty
Price: Free (licence images used via plugin)
Best for: Designers
Reasons to buy
+Easily search and filter images+Retain edits when hi-res image purchased+Works with Illustrator and InDesign

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

11. ParticleShop

Corel Painter tools for Photoshop users

Specifications
Publisher: Corel (Painter)
Price: $44.99
Best for: Artists
Reasons to buy
+Non-destructive layer support+11 updated brushes
Reasons to avoid
-On the pricier side

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 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.

Photoshop plugins: ON1 Resize

(Image credit: On1)

12. ON1 Resize

Enlarge photos without losing image quality

Specifications
Publisher: On1
Price: $79.99 (currently $39.99)
Best for: Photographers and designers
Reasons to buy
+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.

Photoshop plugins: B&W Effects

(Image credit: Topaz Labs)

13. B&W Effects

Turn coloured images into beautiful monochrome photographs

Specifications
Publisher: TopazLabs
Price: $59.99
Best for: Photographers
Reasons to buy
+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: Filter forge

(Image credit: Filter Forge)

14. Filter Forge 10

Over 13,000 effects and textures

Specifications
Publisher: Filter Forge
Price: $38-$818 with discounts available
Good for: 3D artists, photographers, photo editors, graphic designers
Reasons to buy
+Lots of filter options+Tabs+Backup tool

Filter Forge offers over 14,000 effects and textures, covering a diverse range of use cases. Filter Forge is now on version 10, but the previous brought with it the addition of tabs. Users can now load any image or filter into separate tabs, and compare them or fine-tune their settings. There's also a handy backup tool. If you need to move from one computer to another, you can use this to compresses your 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.

Photoshop plugins: Eye Candy

15. Eye Candy

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

Specifications
Publisher: Alien Skin
Price: $89 ($49 upgrade)
Best for: Designers
Reasons to buy
+Great for time-pressured designers+Can tone down default settings
Reasons to avoid
-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

16. Luminar

A focused photo editor for use within Photoshop

Specifications
Publisher: SkyLum
Price: £69
Best for: Photographers
Reasons to buy
+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 over 60 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. 

Photoshop plugins: Nik

(Image credit: DxO / PIXABAY)

17. Nik Collection

A range of powerful photographic plugins available for free

Specifications
Publisher: DxO
Price: $125
Best for: Photographers
Reasons to buy
+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. One of the best parts is the non-destructive mode, which allows you to export images as TIFF files and tweak any edits made (keeping the originals nice and safe). 

Photoshop plugins: Renamy

(Image credit: klaia)

18. Renamy

The Photoshop plugin takes the pain out of renaming layers

Specifications
Publisher: Klaia
Price: $29.99 (limited free version)
Best for: Artists, photographers and designers
Reasons to buy
+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

19. Perspective Mockups

Create cool perspective mockups for your designs

Specifications
Publisher: BlazRobar
Price: $19
Best for: Artists, designers
Reasons to buy
+8 layouts to choose from+Easy way to lift your artwork+Fully editable
Reasons to avoid
-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: Shutterstock

20. Shutterstock

Access Shutterstock's full library from within Photoshop

Specifications
Publisher: Shutterstock
Price: Free (licence images via plugin)
Best for: Designers
Reasons to buy
+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

21. Blow Up 3

Create enlargements without compromising on quality

Specifications
Publisher: Alien Skin
Price: $79
Best for: Photographers and designers
Reasons to buy
+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

22. PhotoMatix Pro

Create extreme HDR images easily

Specifications
Publisher: HDR Soft
Price: $99
Best for: Photographers
Reasons to buy
+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.

Photoshop plugins: on1 effects

(Image credit: ON1)

23. ON1 Effects

Explore a huge range of photo effects, filters and presets

Specifications
Publisher: ON1
Price: $59.99
Best for: Photographers and designers
Reasons to buy
+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.

24. Exposure X5

Simulate film effects for digital projects

Specifications
Publisher: Alien Skin
Price: From $129
Best for: Photographers and designers
Reasons to buy
+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 X5 release, publisher Alien Skin has added 3D colour masking, including one-click selection of sky, foilage, skin tones and more. Exposure X5 is available as a plugin for Photoshop or Lightroom, or as a complete standalone raw photo editor.

Photoshop plugins: GuideGuide

(Image credit: GuideGuide)

25. GuideGuide

An easy way to create grids and guidelines

Specifications
Publisher: Cameron McEfee
Price: From $35/year
Best for: Designers
Reasons to buy
+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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