Adobe Photoshop is still the go-to piece of software for artworkers and photographers looking to improve and edit their images.
However, while its suite of functions is impressive, there are some things you can't do with the native software alone. Or, if you can, there might be certain ways you'd like to use those tools which it doesn't accommodate very easily.
Thankfully, there is a great variety of plugins you can add on to Photoshop out there, to increase the range of functions available to you as you work on your images. While some of these are paid-for, there's still an impressive selection of plugins you can get for absolutely free.
We've assembled this list of the 52 best free Photoshop plugins for photographers that we've found, so hopefully you'll find something to suit your needs in here.
Texture Anarchy from Digital Anarchy is a set of Adobe Photoshop filters for creating textures and borders. The Texture Anarchy filters create both 2D and 3D textures. The textures are procedural textures based on fractal noise, which can be helpful for natural images like fire, smoke, clouds, and marble.
The palettes for lighting, layers, fractal noise and colour gradients make up building blocks for the textures. It has colour wells and gradients to generate different colour combinations, and they have a selection of blend modes that set how the patterns and colours interact with each other.
SuperPNG is a handy open-source Photoshop plug-in specifically for using with PNG files. It has more comprehensive support for the format than Photoshop's included plug-in and provides control over alpha-channel handling. It includes the additional options for saving PNGs:
• Alpha channel control
• Variable Compression
• Smart Quantization
• ICC profile embedding
• Metadata saving
Fontea was designed by people who were unimpressed by Photoshop's native typeface selection. This plugin gives you access to over 800 free Google fonts, and will sync all Google Fonts Library updates automatically. It offers you a greatly expanded selection of fonts without any extra money outlay or manual importing.
Layrs is designed to help you keep your workspace nice and tidy, and speed up your workflow in a few key areas, with a click of a button. Its functions include deleting all unused effects on all selected layers, deleting all empty layers, flatten all effects on selected layers, rasterize every layer, make every selected layer an individual smart object, and find files and folders with similar names. Used right, this plugin should save a lot of time and effort, especially in complex documents with a large number of layers and effects.
The Pexels plugin gives you access to Pexels' extensive library of stock photos from within Photoshop, which should help your workflow considerably.
You can browse through the suggested categories, popular photos or the most recent pictures to get inspiration and to find the perfect shot for your project, from among over 30,000 pictures on the Pexels database.
The photos you like on the Pexels website will be synced with the Photoshop plugin and vice versa. You can like photos to remember them for later.
Ink is a Photoshop plugin that helps you by providing a few extra pieces of important information about your mockups by documenting your layers, from typography to effects and shape sizes. The latest edition now features artboard support.
Tych Panel is an extension for Adobe Photoshop that automates the creation of diptychs and triptychs. It supports an arbitrary number of layouts using a row/column compositing paradigm. Together with a handy panel interface, Tych Panel is a very good diptych, tripych & ntych automation tool.
Previously packaged as individual plugins, Auto FX has updated its offering to a single pro photo-editing package called Studio Pro, aimed to cut down photo-editing times with a suite of tools and presets to quickly apply to photos, along with a host of other functions. You can get a free 15-day trial of GRFX Studio Pro.
Griddify is a very small and quite unusual pluging for Photoshop. This fast plugin helps you compose custom grid systems, vertical rhythm, and help you with guides in several other ways in Photoshop.
Ximagic Denoiser is a Photoshop plugin for image noise reduction. It provides seven different methods for noise reduction:
The FX Box acts as a library and is the basic requirement to load and work with the Orange Box's latest Photoshop FX Tools.
Once installed, all the tools can be load into the library and removed again easily without the need to restart Photoshop.
You can load as many tools and effects from The Orange Box as you want and simply switch between them using this plugin.
Easy Mockups is designed to help you automate your iOS design presentation. You can select from predesigned mockups, select your background and artwork layers and it will automate your designs from there.
Easy mockups come with 10 unique high-resolution mockups to choose from, so there's a variety of designs on offer.
This handy tool easily creates various types of 3D shadows from objects such as letters, numbers, shapes and more. All settings are present in a single window – transparency level, perspective, shadow colour and position, X/Y/Z angles, and some others. The plugin is simple to use and provides fairly sophisticated results for a free tool.
The Curves 3 plugin allows you to apply a curve with easily controllable shape characteristics.
With only three parameters (contrast, brightness, bias), you can retouch pictures in seconds.
Additionally, eight thumbnails will show you eight suggested presets that you can select with a click.
You can find a lot of black-and-white conversion plugins, but this one has a powerful set of controls and features. It gives you total control over the tonal response of Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue and Magenta, and the intermediate hues.
You can boost each colour's tonal response all the way up to white or limit it down to black, without affecting the other colours at all.
The plugin comes with presets that simulates the tonal response of popular black-and-white films, and you can add a grain effect through it too.
You can save settings in parameter files for future use.
As its name suggests, this Photoshop plugin will generate Ascii art from the preview image. It works by converting the image file into an ASCII text file, mapping heavier toned Ascii characters to darker areas and lighter toned Ascii characters to brighter areas. For instance, the character ‘#’ maps to a darker colour while the character ‘.’ maps to a brighter colour.
With hundreds of plug-in filters now available for expanding your host applications, it becomes essential to have an easy way of organising all the installed files.
This utility was developed in order to help users disable Photoshop filters on a temporary basis and re-enable them again when needed, without having to completely uninstall the plug-ins each time.
This plugin's main purpose is to bring out detail in an image. This is done by increasing the contrast between a pixel's value and the mean value of the adjacent pixels in a local area of the photo. Using the plugin, you can control the amount of the increase of contrast, the size of the local area and the amount of blending with the original photo.
Fractal Flames is an Adobe Photoshop plugin based on fractal work created by Scott Draves in 1992. Aside from boasting fast, multithreaded processing combined with 16-bits / channel high-colour support, Fractal Flames offers a number of additional sophisticated features.
It provides full control over all six fractal coefficients resulting in a virtually unlimited number of different possible fractal combinations. It features 24 of the most popular Fractal Flames functions developed by Scott Draves with full toggle, enable, disable and random selection.
Quite often, some parts of a photo require a saturation adjustment while others do not. If we increase the saturation globally, the most saturated parts get oversaturated and if we decrease it, the less saturated parts get undersaturated.
We need a Saturation Mask based on the individual pixel saturation in order to adjust it just where it is needed.
Unfortunately, Photoshop does not provide a fast and straightforward way to create a saturation mask, like it does for brightness masks.
So this plugin, Selective Saturation, lets the user define a Saturation Zone by setting its centre and range with two sliders. A mask preview mode is available to fine tune the settings. Then every saturation adjustment affects only those parts of the photo with saturation value that lies in the specified saturation zone.
Effects 10 from ON1 includes hundreds of stackable filters, presets, borders, and textures to help create your style.
Whether you're looking to add an HDR look, convert to B&W, bring out more detail, reduce noise, or enhance a portrait, ON1 Effects 10.5 offers a convenient a professional-looking solution.
This plugin sharpens photos with the high pass method. The user can adjust the high pass filter radius, and control the blending with the original image.
A high pass output preview is also available to help the user adjust the filter radius up to the point the edges to be sharpened show up.
High pass sharpening is generally considered to produce less haloing and other sharpening artefacts than USM.
Halftone is a plugin for Adobe Photoshop that simulates halftone imagery through the use of dots. Halftone is a filter that can be applied to images or can be used to generate masks with.
This version of Halftone is improved and simplified from previous ones. It has had most previous features stripped out and only the most important ones have been kept.
It has been re-coded from scratch with a completely different algorithm that now handles antialiasing without the use of supersampling so it is noticeably faster.
Halftone converts an image to black and white, using the pixel intensity to define the dot size. Halftone works on black and white images as well as full-colour ones.
Using Magic Enhancer you can improve your photos adjusting their lightness, contrast and colour balance.
Magic Enhancer is good for enhancing images with lack of brightness or uneven illumination, such as silhouetted images on dark background.
Colour temperature control enables fixing colour balance defects easily. The plug-in has a user-friendly interface, when in use you can keep an eye on the result via the histogram.
There is a paid-for version of this software available, with additional features.
This plugin corrects barrel and pincushion distortions that many zoom camera lenses produce. Simply move the sliders to the left to correct barrel distortion, and to the right to correct pincushion.
Absolute Color is based on a hue wheel subdivised into six sectors of 60 degrees each. Using the plugin, you can choose a sector to restrict all the tints within an image to that sector.
This plugin applies a gradient blur that can help you focus an image onto its main subject. Sliders control the blur's starting position as well as its strength. A preview mask can be displayed, and you can choose between a horizontal, vertical and radial blur.
The freeware version of the Boundary Noise Reduction plugin lets you remove noise from DSLR images and film scans. In some ways it's an improvement over the noise reduction tool built into Photoshop.
The filter comes bundled with a Smooth Area Detector. You can use this accessory filter with the suggested actions included in a downloadable zip file. There is also a paid-for commercial version of this software available with more features included.
This plugin processes a local equalization of the luminosity of every pixel, with a matrix of 17x17 pixels.
From an artistic point of view, local equalization can be interesting if you wish to stress the aspect of a given texture, and can provide a highly creative result.
But this process can be also used to analyze an image where certain details are barely perceptible.
This simple plugin applies a soft focus effect, which is often useful in portraits or fashion photography. It has controls to adjust the softness, the overall strength of the effect and the blending mode of the overlaid blurred image.
HSL Plus 2 is similar to the traditional hue/saturation/luminosity balance tool, but with some additional functions, including:
• Better colour integrity, especially for the luminosity
• Better control of the luminosity, notably the possibility of modifying contrast
• The ability to adjust chroma components separately
• The possibility to set an automatic contrast (with the Auto button)
Fotomatic is a collection of 8 plug-in filters for use with Adobe Photoshop or compatible host applications (32-bit hosts only).
Hi-Spot creates high contrast black and white photos. G-Force creates traditional monochromatic grain effects, similar to using "fast" B&W camera film.
Techni-X bleaches out most of the mid-tone greys, leaving crisp dark blacks and bright clean whites. It will produce clear B&W images with limited tones which are suitable for cheap reproduction via the office photocopier or when published in newsprint.
NightScope adds a basic "night-vision" effect to your images. It first removes all colour from the picture and gives a very slight blur to indicate the camera is trying hard to focus in a low-light situation.
Pseudo-IR produces a similar look when using traditional B&W infra-red film. SkyGrad is for tinting the sky area of your photographs. Ideal if you need to change the "mood" of your scene, brighten up a dull day or make a darker overcast sky for dramatic effect.
BW-Plus quickly turns your colour images into greyscale, but with the added option of using a coloured optical lens filter as you would in traditional B&W photography.
FastFix will help you quickly access the most common image enhancement controls though one easy-to-use dialog. A simple but surprisingly useful filter that will help you fix many of your common photographic problems.
Composer has four distinct commands to help you stay in control of your document.
• Update Layer Style: Used to sync the layer style, opacity, and blending mode of selected layers across selected layer comps.
• Update Position: Used to sync the position of selected layers across selected layer comps.
• Update Visibility: Used to sync the visibility of selected layers across selected layer comps.
• Update All: Used to sync the layer style, position, and visibility of selected layers across selected layer comps.
Kaleidoscope 2.1 is a plugin which produces symmetrical patterns out of your image.
Version 2 of the plugin includes three spinning effects:
• Mirror: traditional effect. Consecutive sectors are symmetrical.
• Copy: takes a sector and repeat it. Transition between consecutive sectors is antialiased.
• Blend: turns the complete image several times and constructs a blend.
The plug-in allow you to create a halftone effect using any image with a single click. This halftone pattern generator applies a halftone pattern to anything you're working on. It installs in minutes and provides easy halftones from there out.
The Fur 2 plugin creates a dispersion effect on an image, and creates a simple repeatable figure (line or circle, configurable dimensions/thickness) over the whole image. Each figure can be filled according to two modes:
This is a nifty, simple little plugin that generates dot grids which can be based on selections.
If you've got a Fonts.com subscription, this plugin will help you quickly selecting and adding fonts to your design projects. It gives you the ability to browse, add, and sync fonts directly from your favourite Adobe applications, including Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign.
Eraser Classic allows you to erase a given colour with ease. It's simple to use: you just activate the eyedropper, select the colour directly in the preview window, and adjust the tolerance to your preferences, to remove all instances of that colour in your image.
This plugin lets you grab image layers from any PSD/PSB file. It's faster than opening the whole PSD in Photoshop, if you just want a layer.
Also, it lets you open PSD created by the newest versions of Photoshop from within older Photoshop versions that cannot read them directly.
Perhaps its most important use is it can often recover image layers from corrupted PSD files that Photoshop won't open (if Photoshop opens with a damaged file, this plugin recovers a more intact image).
As its name suggests, this plugin lets you create dramatic shadow effects in Photoshop. Using the plugin, you can control shadow length, opacity and angle, as well as choose between a dark or light 'shadow' effect, with an option between a flat effect or a gradient shadow. This can be particularly effective on text to make it stand out.
Color MegaMix 1.1 modifies the colours of any image. It is based on two rows of colours: 8 source colours and 8 target colours. Using this data, the plugin completely reconstructs an image's colour space.
This freeware plugin contains 69 image effects within nine effect group. These include filters for colour adjustment, artistic effects, colourful gradients, patterns, warping images, adding noise effects, encrypting and decrypting images, zoom effects, mirroring and paint effects as well as natural effects like lightning, tornado and polar lights.
It has a Play button for animations with random parameters and a Jump button for random effects. You get a choice of various blend modes and more than 130 presets included, with an included brightness slider.
Unlike the traditional threshold command of Photoshop, the Fine Threshold plugin allows you to quickly get sharp anti-aliased shapes.
This plugin works particularly well with scanned logos. This can be useful if you wish to reproduce a logo for a website.
The Craquelure 3D Photoshop plugin is a filter that creates a wide range of craquelure effects. The filter is useful in designing abstract patterns, decorative surfaces and construction materials.
Two independent craquelure layers can be controlled to achieve a variety of texture effects, from etched metal and silk plaster to melted glass and water ripples.
A random settings generator helps you to quickly and easily produce unlimited variations of craquelured surfaces.
The Weaver plugin creates an effect that imitates hand-woven fabric. There are two main controls, Size Range: which gives you control over the size range of the weave, and Size, which dictates how much detail you'll lose from the original image.
The Sinedots plugin uses simple sinus calculations to generate interesting patterns. The V2 of the plugin includes enhanced functions, including colour support, blend modes, more control parameters, 16-bit support and enhanced software compatibility.
This plugin generates blots to form nice, seamless textures. Version 2 has three modes:
•Normal: The simplest mode. Blots combine the background colour and the foreground colour.
• Camouflage: this mode allows to stack blots of different colours to obtain a "camouflage" texture.
• Gradient: this mode uses the Gradient Map effect to create gradient blots.
Water Ripples is a free Photoshop-compatible plug-in filter. It creates realistic water ripple effects, and has numerous options as well as a 3D function. The random settings generator produces unlimited variations of rippled surfaces.
Flat Median is a median-like effect that has some advantages over the regular median filter. You can control level of flatness with the plugin. At low level of flatness the result will look like a regular blur, while at high level the result will have more contrast. It's isotropic, much like gaussian blur. Additionally, you can apply the effect in both horizontal and vertical directions.
Jama 3D is a free Photoshop plug-in filter. It's a simple way to create corrugated and cellular-like patterns from 2D images. You can easily make various bricks and herring bone textures.
Sequenced filtering produces bizarre, often quite artistic deformations of the original picture, such as crumpled paper effect, etc.
Using different 2D shapes on a transparent layer produces complex 3D border effects. The edge antialiasing option improves the dithering. This filter is compact and easy to use.
Gradient Smithy allows, you to generate a gradient map effect. The plugin can control any colour and their luminosity within a gradient. Gradient Smithy allows you to easily create quite complex gradients.
More free downloads: