59 of the best free Photoshop actions

Free Photoshop actions: Special effects

47. BlackNull's Modern Artist Action Set

Screenshot of one of the best free photoshop actions

Turn photos into vibrant graphic art with this free Photoshop action (Image credit: Adobe / BlackKnull)

This is a complex free Photoshop action created for Adobe Create by the artist Nuwan Panditha, also known as BlackNull. It can be used to turn photographs into vibrant works of graphic art. You'll need to follow the instructions carefully for this one, creating a clear mask layer (be sure to name it 'mask') for your subject. The action may look great immediately when applied, but have a play around because there are lots of way to change the shapes and colours.

48. Powder Explosion free photoshop action

Screenshot of one of the best free photoshop actions

Boom! Powder explosion (Image credit: Diego Sanchez)

Powder is a common prop in dance photography, but you don't necessarily need to mess up your studio to get that exploding look. This free Photoshop action attempts to replicate the effect. Don't expect too much – it's never going to replicate the realism of actually shooting with powder, but can be a fun action to add some exaggerated drama to an image. You'll need to credit Diego Sanchez, the creator of the action, if you use it for free.

49. Cinematic Rain Effect free Photoshop action

Screenshot of one of the best free photoshop actions

(Image credit: Photoshop-kopona)

Rain is another element that can add a lot of drama to an image, but it's hard to rely on rain when you want it, and hard to photograph too. This dramatic rain action works best on shots that already have a dark and moody look, adding an extra element to really set them off.

50. Free Oil Paint Collection

Free Photoshop actions: Oil

A collection of six different oil paint effects (Image credit: Fix the Photo)

Want to turn your images into oil paintings? Look no further! This collection of six actions contains special effects that'll apply different types of oil paint finishes onto your images.

51. Infrared Photo Effect

Free Photoshop actions: Infrared

With eight actions to choose from (Image credit: blog.spoongraphics.co.uk)

Authentic infrared photos require either infrared film or an infrared lens, but this free Photoshop effect can help you achieve the same effect. Capture the surreal appearance of false-color infrared photography in you images. There are eight actions to choose from in this set, each with a different and unique inverted colour effect.

52. Texture Applicator Plus

Free Photoshop actions: Texture Applicator Plus

Add depth to your images by applying a texture overlay (Image credit: mcpactions.com)

Create depth and interest in your images by adding texture overlays with this set of free Photoshop actions. Pick up a free texture, then apply it to a photo to create a range of different effects. 

53. Dystopian 

Free photoshop actions: Dystopian

Add some drama to your cityscapes (Image credit: www.photoshoptutorials.ws)

Turn your nighttime cityscapes into something a whole lot more dramatic with these free Photoshop actions from SparkleStock. These actions work with Photoshop CS3 and newer, including CC. Get three dramatic effects for free, or purchase the full version to get access to all eight.

54. Dispersion Effect

Free photoshop actions: Dispersion

Make it look like objects are dissolving (Image credit: PSD Dude)

This free Photoshop action enables you to easily create dispersion effects in your images, to make it appear like an object is exploding or disintegrating. The action leaves layers intact so you can easily modify and edit the results to your liking. The only downside is that you can only use it with 72 dpi images in RGB color mode, and has not been tested for use with Photoshop CC.

55. Glitch Effect

Free Photoshop actions: Glitch

Get your glitch on with this fabulous free action (Image credit: creativetacos.com)

You can't beat the look of stuff recorded onto a knackered old VHS tape, and this free action by Syed Faraz Ahmad does a pretty good job of recreating it, with plenty of glitches and colour smearing.

56. 3D Isometric Map

Free Photoshop actions 3D Map

Why bother with flat maps when you could have an isometric 3D map?

A brilliant action that converts a flat vector map into an isometric 3D map mockup. There are three different styles of map available: sand, ice and grass, and the action also allows you to drop in your choice of buildings, trees, landscape elements and signs.

57. Stickers and Tape

Free Photoshop actions: stickers n tape

Stickers and tape in one package!

Create round stickers with a curl in the corner, or polaroid-style images with clear sticky tape holding them in place. This site requires you to register for free before you can download the action.

58. Fold Paper

Free Photoshop actions: paper fold

Turn artwork into a virtual mockup with this neat effect

Automatically render your artwork onto a trifold paper design in pseudo-3D, complete with shadows and shading on the image. Ideal for rendering paper designs ahead of presenting them on-screen to clients.

59. Action 3D

Free Photoshop actions: Action 3D

Get a fake 3D effect with this channel-juggling action

This quirky action from JonasFan93 creates a pseudo 3D anaglyphic image by separating out colour channels within your image and offsetting them. This freebie offers a number of different styles that are more suitable for use in printed brochures and website design where you’re aiming for a stylised effect.

What are Photoshop actions?

When working on Photoshop, there is a feature that allows you to track all your edits and save them as an 'action'. This means that in the future you can quickly apply all of those edits at once rather than having to add all of the adjustment layers and masks one-by-one every time you want to apply the same kind of edit to an image.

If you then assign that action to a shortcut key, it means you can perform an edit at just the press of a button, saving you minutes and hours of your time. They're an absolute lifesaver if you're in a rush, or if you have lots of projects to edit in a similar fashion – and of course, they're all designed by you, to suit you and your process. But you can also import Photoshop actions created by other people, saving you even more time.

How do I install Photoshop actions?

Most free Photoshop actions will download as zip folders. You'll want to download this and extract the contents (which should take the form of an .ATN file) to an easy-to-find location on your computer. 

To install the Photoshop actions and make them available to use in Photoshop, you'll need to select the Window Menu in Photoshop and choose 'Actions'. Click on the  Menu Icon at the top right of the Actions panel, scroll down to Load Actions and open the Photoshop Actions Folder. Navigate to the folder where you saved the Photoshop action and double-click the .ATN file. Once the action you want appears listed, you can simply click the Play button.

Kerrie Hughes

Kerrie Hughes is Editor at Creative Bloq. One of the original CB crew, Kerrie joined the team back in 2013 after moving from her role as staff writer on 3D World. Since then she's written regularly for other creative publications. Kerrie's work for Creative Bloq involves managing the team and the site's content, developing and maintaining commercial partnerships, and finding innovative ways to bring Creative Bloq's audience the content they're looking for.

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