When it comes to graphic design or photo editing, chances are good that Adobes Photoshop is the first thing to come to mind. There’s no doubt that this amazing tool is every designer’s holy grail.
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The Adobe Suite is one of the most popular and powerful collections of tools for designers and photo editors, widely used by experts and beginners, alike. Adobe does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to manipulating designs and images, Photoshop (as well as Lightroom and Illustrator) is also compatible with a long list of third-party plugins that can ramp up the tool’s effectiveness big time.
These Photoshop plugins are used to add special features or effects, simplify the process of various graphic design effects, or a make your digital creations more impressive. Whether you’re a graphic designer or a photo manipulator, an expert or beginner, you’ll certainly be able to make use of some or all of these photoshop plugins for your upcoming projects.
The following represents some of the best Photoshop plugins available to graphic designers.
01. ON1 Effects
Photo by Bliss Studio
ON1 Effects is an easy one-click panel in Photoshop, which can also work as a standalone app. Essentially, it functions as a viable alternative to Adobe’s collection of graphic design software offerings. This Photoshop plugin allows you to add effects to your images and comes with a diverse selection of filters (including some that feel a lot like Instagram), including adjustable contrasts and an HDR effect.
Users can choose from the classic filters, like vignette and cinematic styles, and add them on top of different layers. Filters can be easily stacked together and adjusted for quick customization.
Price: ON1 is available as a download with a free 30-day trial. For a full license, you can purcase ON1 for a one-time fee of $119.99.
One of the most critical resources that designers need for their projects is a deep pool of stock images at their disposal. Usually, you’ll need these images for background enhancement, textures, or maybe just some experimentation. Bonus points if you can get unfettered access to royalty-free stock images.
Pexels.com is an awesome resource when it comes to free stock images. The website also offers designers a free plugin for your Photoshop installation, granting easy access to its photo library without requiring you to open a new window or a need to download images you’ve got your eye on.
By adding this plugin to Photoshop, you can browse images according to their popularity, images that have been recently added to the website, or by using specific tags and search terms, depending on the needs of your projects.
Price: Completely free in terms of both the app and stock images!
03. RH Hover Color Picker
If you’re working with color, listen up: Adobe Photoshop does have a color picker included with the software. That said, RH Hover’s version is easier to use and arguably better than Photoshop’s standard picker—a tool that many describe as being too complex and all over the place.
Good news: there are Photoshop plugins that allow you to have a clean, light, and fast color picker. This particular tool allows you to easily customize your color sliders while giving you a lot more control compared to what you can do with the standard offering.
When working in Photoshop, designers need easy access to a wide range of color, which is why Adobe includes a color picker as part of their standard interface panel. However, users also want the option to see a full, unobscured view of the project they’re working on. RH Hover Color Picker only shows when you hover over its minimized version. When you go back to designing, it will automatically hide. Out of sight, out of mind!
Price: $16, as a one-time fee.
04. Fontself Maker for Photoshop CC
There are many free fonts available online but many designers (and their clients) prefer to have a unique and original typeface for their project. If you want to create your own fonts, Fontself Maker for Photoshop CC is a plugin worth checking out.
Fontself works with both Photoshop and Illustrator CC. This Photoshop plugin allows you to easily turn your lettering into OpenType fonts.
Just simply drag and drop layers to create characters, get colors, textures, or shades.
Price: £43 (~$57), as a one-time fee.
05. Nik Collection
Nik Collection is one of the most popular Photoshop plugins in the design industry. The Collection is made up of seven amazing Lightroom and Photoshop plugins that each work independently.
Better yet, you’ll be thrilled to learn that Nik Collection lived a former life as an expensive $500 professional photo processing software program, until Google took over and made it available for free.
Interestingly enough, in 2017, Nik Collection changed hands once again. Google decided to drop Nik Collection, which was then acquired by DxO, who decided to resume its development. Nik Collection’s new home company is planning to release a new Collection in mid-2018.
In the meantime, here is a look at what is currently included in this particular collection of Photoshop plugins:
- Analog Efex Pro: Allows you to explore the classic look of analog cameras, film stock, and lenses.
- Color Efex Pro: A collection of filters for color correction, retouching, and effects.
- Dfine: Allows you to process your image with noise reduction.
- Sharpener Pro: Sharpening tool that allows you to bring out the hidden details of your pictures.
- HDR Efex Pro: Process your images and turn them into artistic HDR photos.
- Viveza: Allows you to adjust tone and color of the image without the use of masking or selection.
- Silver Efex Pro: Turn your photos into stunning black and white images with darkroom-inspired controls.
If your brand of design revolves around editing photos, then Luminar is the Photoshop plugin for you.
The tool functions as another Lightroom offshoot (note that it plugs right into Lightroom, too) and comes with over 300 powerful tools: including filters, a long list of one-click presets, and the Accent AI filter.
Luminar has long been available to Mac users but just recently became available to PC users, too (at least those using Windows 7 and above).
What’s really cool about Luminar is that it offers built-in workspaces equipped with a guided workflow that can help you get your projects done more effectively: with less blood, sweat, and tears.
Some of Luminar’s notable features include:
- Easy sky replacement
- Object removal
- Customized workspace
- Masking and presets
Price: $69, as a one-time fee.
07. Layrs Control 2
If you’ve used Photoshop at all, you know that for better or worse, layers play a major role in the design process. Sometimes you create so many layers within your project that organizing them becomes a project in and of itself.
With Layrs Control 2, you can easily manage your layers through a variety of actions accessible through a simple panel.
Here’s a quick look at the features offered by the Layrs Control 2 Photoshop plugin:
- Layer name editor
- Flatten all layers
- Delete empty layers
- Rasterize smart objects
- Remove unused effects
- Find similar files or folders
- Convert smart objects
Say goodbye to the idea of doing all these tasks manually. This Photoshop plugin allows you to execute these tasks in simple and easy steps, allowing you to save more time on organizing and freeing up time for design.
Price: Completely free!
If you’re a web developer, this Photoshop plugin is for you! CSS3Ps allows developers to translate individual Photoshop layers into CSS code.
Photoshop does already have this feature, but the CSS3Ps plugin offers other features that level up the standard offering, such as the ability to provide SCSS and SASS codes. The Photoshop plugin also allows you to work a lot faster, especially when dealing with more complicated designs.
Price: Completely free!
The 8 Best Photoshop Plugins for Designers
There are certainly many Photoshop plugins to choose from, depending on what type of design you do and what effects you’re trying to achieve. The point is that you’re not limited to using Photoshop’s stock tools for all of your editing needs. Sometimes, a little outside help is just the thing you need to get the job done right.
Plugins For Photoshop Elements
Do you have anything to add to this list of Photoshop plugins that can help other designers with inspiration, boosting creativity, or improving efficiency? Let us know in the comments below!
Ready to become a Photoshop power-user? Good, because the Photoshop plugins, add-ons, and extensions we list in this post will supercharge the already impressive capabilities of Adobe’s preeminent software.
Yes, Adobe Photoshop CC is outstanding on its own. But there are plenty of features that users wish they had access to but don't. Plus, there’s no way that Adobe could’ve packed in every add-on, extension, or plugin and still kept the software at its current price point.
Lucky for you, not all of the plugins you’ll read about today cost money!
That’s not to say that you should only look for free plugins. Some of the premium Photoshop plugins we list are so good, you’ll want to buy them immediately — if you’re really serious about upping your Photoshop game, that it. But before we get into the best free and premium Photoshop plugins for 2020, let’s quickly cover how to install Photoshop plugins:
How to Install Photoshop Plugins
Here’s a simple way to install Photoshop plugins:
- Open Photoshop.
- Select Edit from the dropdown menu, and select Preferences > Plugins.
- Check the 'Additional Plugins Folder' box to accept new files.
- Download a plugin or filter to your desktop.
- Open your Program Files folder and select your Photoshop folder.
- Open your Plugins folder, found inside your Photoshop folder.
- Drag your new Photoshop plugin from your desktop into the Plugins folder.
- Reopen Photoshop and find your new plugin under Filters in the dropdown menu.
Now that you know how to use Photoshop plugins, let’s take a look at some of the best free and premium Photoshop plugins available in 2020.
Note, if you prefer Sketch, check out our guide to the best Sketch plugins.
Best Free Photoshop Plugins
As the old saying goes, “the best things in life are free.” Of course, these plugins may not be “the best things in life” (unless Photoshop IS your life), but they’re pretty good and can be used completely free of charge.
1. Camera Raw
Camera Raw is a Photoshop plugin that lets you edit and enhance raw files from your digital camera, along with JPEG and TIFF files. If you’re unfamiliar with a raw file, it’s simply the unprocessed picture data from your digital camera.
With the Adobe Camera Raw plugin, you can sharpen raw pictures, set white balance, and adjust the contrast among many other features.
The best part is, Camera Raw uses non-destructive editing, which means it doesn’t alter the original picture file in case you want to revert back to it after you’ve finished editing. This plugin has been a must-have tool for photographers and should definitely be in your editing toolkit.
Ink is one of the best free Photoshop plugins on this list. It allows designers to create useful mockups and user interfaces, which lets an inexperienced Photoshop user — like a developer, for example — understand the design elements within a coding framework.
In other words, Ink makes it easy to communicate your design by generating full specs such as text formatting, layer styles, and dimensions.
This is especially helpful if you have to hand off work to a developer on GitHub and want to ensure that he or she will accurately interpret your design. Fortunately, this handy app can be accessed and used for the low price of zero dollars!
3. Texture Anarchy
Texture Anarchy is a Photoshop plugin that offers its users a library of different filters and textures to edit their photos with. What sets it apart from similar plugins like ON1 Effects is the fact that the textures it produces are based on fractal noise, which makes it easy to create natural images like fire, smoke, or marble.
If you're new to Photoshop, or photo editing in general, and the above paragraph sounds confusing, don't worry. Texture Anarchy is actually pretty easy to use. It even comes with presets to help you get started on the right foot.
FlatIcon is a Photoshop plugin that will give you access to thousands of free vector icons, which can be downloaded in multiple formats such as SVG or PNG.
With FlatIcon installed, you can search through its database of icons from within Photoshop and insert them directly into your design panel. What kind of icons are we talking about? Just about anything! FlatIcon has millions of icons available for use.
Now, FlatIcon does have thousands of icons available for free. But, they require attribution to use legally. Alternatively, you can sign up for a FlatIcon subscription and get access to many more, attribution-free icons and priority support. FlatIcon plans start at $8.25 a month.
Best Premium Photoshop Plugins
As Warren Buffett once said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
While these premium Photoshop Plugins come with a price tag, they pack a serious punch and provide artists, photographers, and casual Photoshop users alike with tons of value. Here are the six paid plugins that we believe will make the biggest impact on your output and workflow:
1. RH Hover Color Picker
RH Hover Color Picker is a Photoshop color plugin that isn’t ugly or cumbersome (unlike the color picker built into Photoshop) and gives you more control over the colors you pick with its set of customizable sliders.
It’s aptly named the “Hover” Color Picker because it only reveals itself when you hover over its minimized version, and then conceals itself once you’re done using it. Convenient!
RH Hover Color Picker is really easy to use and will speed up your Photoshop workflow dramatically. Luckily, it can be had for just $16. Make the process of picking colors much easier and more enjoyable with this premium plugin.
2. ON1 Effects
ON1 Effects is a Photoshop plugin that gives you access to hundreds of built-in presets, filters, LUTs, textures, and borders. These effects can then be combined, blended, and otherwise customized to create a unique look for each of your photographs.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one tool for adding complex effects to your photos, ON1 Effects is the solution you need. Get it for a one-time payment of $59.99.
3. Fluid Mask 3
Fluid Mask 3 is a Photoshop plugin that can be used to remove backgrounds and perform cutouts — a necessity for most modern photographers and graphic artists.
Masking, i.e. making part of a layer invisible, is a delicate and often difficult process. Fluid Mask 3 is one of the few plugins that will give you a clean and accurate mask, especially with problem areas like hair and fur.
Neat Image Plugin For Photoshop Mac
Even though Fluid Mask 3 costs $99, its ability to detect edges, blend layers, and simplify painstaking tasks makes the high price tag worth it. That's why big companies like Disney, NBC, and Macy's use it on a regular basis.
Noiseware is an award-winning Photoshop plugin for noise reduction. Noise is the colorful grains or discoloration found in Photographs that give it a splotchy or blurry look. In simple terms, it's the part of your photographs that you usually don't want.
Noiseware removes graininess from images and sharpens them simultaneously, allowing you to clean up your photos quickly and professionally.
Although it costs $79.95, it justifies its premium price tag with unparalleled targeted noise reduction that few other plugins can even come close to matching.
Have you ever taken a picture of yourself and thought, 'Oh no, is that what I really look like?' Don't be ashamed, it's happened to all of us. The camera can be quite unkind at times. When you're not happy with the results of your latest portrait, get PortraitPro.
PortraitPro is a Photoshop plugin that helps users retouch and edit portraits without giving them a “Photoshopped” finish. It prides itself on being a software built to enhance human beauty without making faces look plastic or fake.
PortraitPro accomplishes this feat by using a slider interface to sculpt and refine a subject’s features. Use this editing tool to smooth skin, apply makeup, correct poor lighting, change hair color, and more.
Whatever aspect of your portraits that you need to adjust, PortraitPro can help you do it for a one-time payment of $89.90.
6. Machine Wash Deluxe
Last, but certainly not least, we have Machine Wash Deluxe, which is a Photoshop plugin that adds scratchy, weathering effects to your photos. When you want your images to have that cool, retro vibe, Machine Wash Deluxe is the app you need.
The plugin comes with over 3,500 presets, which can be used to texturize and alter photographs in thousands of different ways and make them look old, vintage, or otherworldly.
Machine Wash Deluxe is an incredibly fun plug-in to play with and will help you create unique images that stop viewers in their tracks. It will cost you $99 to access. But if you have a little extra cash to spend, you’ll love the abstract photo transformations you can make with it.
Honorable Mention: CloudApp
CloudApp isn’t technically a Photoshop add-on, plugin, or extension — at least not yet. But it will help you get the “raw materials” you need to create great photos.
Our free screen recorder lets you record videos and take screenshots on mac and win of virtually anything, edit them in Photoshop, and then pass them on to your developer. If your developer has questions, they can take a screenshot of your finished product, annotate it, and send it back to you. You’ll then be able to comment on those annotations and easily make the required changes.
CloudApp is available as a Mac App, a Windows App, and as a Chrome Plugin. This means that just about anyone can create visual content from their desktop device of choice!
If you want to streamline your Photoshop workflow and easily create the stunning visual materials needed to get the job done, consider signing up for CloudApp — it's free.
There you have it, the 10 best photoshop plugins in 2020. If you regularly use Adobe's legendary software, these tools will help you supercharge your workflow and create better visual content. Now you just have to decide which ones you want to use!
And don't forget about CloudApp! Our visual communication software is a great way to create the raw materials you need to edit inside of Photoshop. From screenshots to annotated images, use CloudApp to capture anything on your computer screen. Get started today for free!
Plug-ins For Mac Photoshop