Whenever we talk about graphic designing, one of the first applications that come to mind is Adobe Photoshop. It is every graphic designer’s best buddy.
Adobe Photoshop, or the Adobe Suite, is undoubtedly among the must-have tools for designers. Photoshop helps designers alter and manipulate their designs in a way that allows every user to bring out the best in them, no matter their experience. Plus, it is perhaps the best application for raster and layer editing.
Even if you are a newbie in the graphic designing field, you could utilize Photoshop’s easy-to-understand tutorial resources to get familiar with the tool.
Although Adobe Photoshop can do wonders, some third-party plugins can enhance its efficacy to an unforeseen extent. These plugins come with unique features that can help you create something extraordinary.
Here, we will look at the best Photoshop plugins to take your design skills to the next level.
What Are Photoshop Plugins?
As we just mentioned, Adobe Photoshop is a wonderful graphic design software. But there is a limit to what it can normally do. Photoshop plugins are small add-on programs that take Photoshop’s capabilities beyond their usual limits.
Anyone who has the required programming knowledge and expertise can create these plugins. Once installed, one could find the plugin in the Photoshop menu, often under the ‘Filter’ section.
Although these plugins can be a great way to enhance your creativity, you must check their compatibility before installing them. If you don’t, you could install a plugin incompatible with your Photoshop version, causing it to malfunction or even crash.
How Do Photoshop Plugins Help Designers?
Every designer who wants to create something unique has to think out-of-the-box. However, thinking is not enough. They must have the means necessary to bring their concept to life. And Photoshop, despite being a solid tool, sometimes proves insufficient in such cases.
Fortunately, Photoshop plugins can fill that gap and help extend its abilities. These plugins assist designers in not only saving time by cutting steps and automating tiresome processes but also being more productive by introducing additional features. That is why these extensions or plugins are a must-have for all designers.
Benefits of Using Photoshop Plugins
Photoshop plugins can boost a designer’s efficiency and creativity by offering multiple advantages. Below are some of its benefits:
Sometimes digitally created designs can look a little artificial, as the textures don’t have the warmth of analog designs. A plugin can make the designs look natural.
It can help you enlarge an image beyond its original size without causing pixelation.
If precision is your primary concern, Photoshop’s ruler system can sometimes not be enough. A plugin can help you make custom grids, add guides, mark midpoints and edges, etc., with ease.
It can help you refine pattern repeats without performing too many steps.
Cutting layers and shapes looks easy but often becomes an exhausting process. A Photoshop plugin can save time by auto-performing these processes with a single mouse click.
Let us now take a look at some of the finest Photoshop plugins available to install out there. These tools give you a never-before-felt designing experience:
Adobe Camera Raw
Adobe Camera Raw is a Photoshop plugin that empowers users to enhance their RAW, TIFF, JPEG, etc., files. With the help of this plugin, you can sharpen, adjust contrast, mix colors, and more for your unprocessed RAW image data.
Adobe Camera Raw utilizes non-destructive editing. That means the plugin never messes with the original image, and you can go back to it if needed.
Adobe Camera Raw comes with Photoshop itself. So, you have to take the subscription by paying $10 to install and use the plugin.
Pexels is a Photoshop plugin that allows designers to use free stock images for any of their projects. It offers a diverse library with over 3 million images and videos, with new content being added continually.
Pexels has a large global community of skilled photographers who share their photographs on the platform and let everyone use them without restrictions, even for commercial projects.
Also, you can like certain photos to locate them later easily. Currently, Pexels is free to install in Adobe Exchange.
On1 Effects is a plugin that provides lots of effects like built-in filters, presets, lookup tables, textures, and so on.
As a designer, you are free to experiment and create something exceptional by mixing, combining, or customizing these effects. The tool utilizes AI technology to give you professional-looking results.
For your information, it is possible to use On1 Effects as a standalone app and a plugin. As of now, On1 Effects costs a one-time payment of $59.99.
Nik Collection is a powerful suite of eight plugins that helps enhance your images. From creative color editing to adding vintage effects to adjusting tones, saturation, perspectives, etc. – these plugins have it all.
Plus, it has a community of photographers who have designed hundreds of presets for you to use.
You can purchase Nik Collection with a one-time payment of $149. After purchase, besides the eight necessary plugins, you would get DxO PhotoLab 5 – a robust RAW photo editor – for free.
Ink is a plugin that lets designers produce handy mockups and UIs. This makes it easier for novice Photoshop users to understand your design. Ink shows full specifications, like text formatting, layer measures, layer styles, etc., to developer teams.
By doing so, Ink helps developers to better understand your designs and ensures that they don’t misinterpret your mockups. Interestingly, Ink now comes with artboard support.
At present, Ink is available to download free of cost on the official website.
Optics by Boris FX is a visual effects and image editing plugin that helps turn your ordinary images into something unique and eye-catching.
These effects range from basic image editing to Hollywood-level cinematic effects to realistic particle creation. Currently, the software offers 174 unique filters and thousands of creative presets.
Also, the app comes in both plugin and standalone forms. Optics has two premium subscription options: Monthly and Annual at $9/month and $8.25/month (billed annually at $99), respectively.
CSS3Ps is a cloud-based Photoshop plugin that helps convert your layers into CSS3 styles. As the plugin uses cloud technology, all updates and bug fixes are transparent in nature. So, you won’t even have to update the plugin to get fresh features.
Once converted, you can see the CSS3 style in your browser and share it with others. CSS3Ps support multiple layers, prefixes, and styles, such as gradient overlay, inner shadow, outer glow, stroke, etc.
Presently, CSSP3Ps is available to download free of cost on the official website.
Free Stock Search
Free Stock Search is a Photoshop plugin that helps designers search for free stock images and use them in their projects. As a user, you can search stock photos on platforms like unsplash.com, pixabay.com, pexels.com, etc., from right within the app.
With one mouse click, the tool will download an image and import it directly to Photoshop or other Adobe apps like Illustrator, InDesign, etc. All stock images are free, meaning designers can use them in their non-commercial and commercial projects without any restrictions.
As its name suggests, Free Stock Search is available to download for free on Adobe Exchange. However, after a search, the app displays some results from Adobe and Shutterstock. The developer will get a little commission if you purchase pictures from these two platforms.
Powtoon Extension for Photoshop
Powtoon Extension for Photoshop is an easy way to convert Photoshop designs into video animations. This plugin allows you to export select artboards or all artboards to Powtoon and transform them into a professional-looking animated video in seconds.
Powtoon also lets you enhance your video using custom animation, soundtracks, stock footage, etc., before uploading them directly to Facebook, YouTube, or elsewhere. Plus, you can edit pictures from your Powtoon library in Photoshop and save them on your computer.
At present, Powtoon Extension for Photoshop costs no money, and you can download it for free on Adobe Exchange.
Getty Images Plugin
Getty Images Plugin is a powerful extension that lets you license and download photos and videos from Photoshop. This plugin gives users access to millions of licensed and royalty-free photos and images to use in their projects.
It also has Boards that designers can use to organize their downloaded images and videos. Besides that, the search tools and refinements of the tool make sure you get exactly the results you want. There is an option to select your preferences to tailor your experiences.
At the time of publication, you can download and install the Getty Images plugin on Adobe Exchange.
By using the Shutterstock plugin, designers can download a plethora of photos, videos, illustrations, etc., from its collection and create amazing designs. The platform curates some of the best content available in the market.
Its handy search filters ensure the precise finding of the content you are looking for. Shutterstock lets you use its content for free, of course with watermarks, to witness your concept come to life.
If you are happy with your creation, you can simply get a license for the content, and edits will auto-reapply, saving time.
Presently, you can download the Shutterstock plugin free of cost on Adobe Exchange.
How to Install Photoshop Plugins?
Downloading the Photoshop plugins is not sufficient; you have to install them correctly to use them. Here’s how you can install your desired plugins:
Start by launching the Photoshop app on your PC or laptop.
Click the ‘Edit’ option of the Menu Bar, followed by Preferences > Plugins.
Next, download the plugin you want.
Once downloaded, open the ‘Program Files’ folder on your computer and then open the ‘Photoshop’ folder.
From there, find the ‘Plugins’ folder and drag your downloaded plugin from your computer into that folder.
Relaunch your Photoshop app to find the new plugin under the ‘Filters’ option.
How to Use Photoshop Plugins?
After installing a plugin, you will have to restart your Photoshop application to help the changes take effect. Once installed, you will see your newly installed plugin under ‘Filters.’ Remember that each plugin is different. Therefore, you have to follow the developer’s instructions to get an idea of what the plugin can do.
Plus, if there is a video tutorial on the manufacturer’s website, you should also watch it to get a thorough idea. It is important to learn if the plugin works without an active selection, is functional only when you select a particular color mode, etc. Learning these will help you avoid any undesirable situation.
Also, you should deactivate a plugin if it malfunctions or faces performance issues until the developer introduces a fixed version. This will prevent the plugin from loading when your launch Photoshop.
Graphic designers always strive to create designs that are not only striking but also stand out from others. Now, while Adobe Photoshop is a perfect choice for graphic designing purposes, it has its limitations.
However, third-party plugins can help Adobe Photoshop surpass itself and provide designers with new features that can boost the quality of the projects and workflow. In this article, we have compiled some of the best Photoshop plugins to elevate your designs to an unprecedented level.
As you can see, the right Photoshop plugins can improve your workflow and bring advanced features unavailable in the standard app. Our article lists the Photoshop plugins to take your design skills to the next level. Refer to it after identifying your specific needs to find your ideal plugin.