Best Photoshop Plugins
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After more than three decades, Photoshop remains the world’s leading image-editing software. The Adobe product appeals to creative minds as a result of its wide variety of tools and resources for image retouching and graphic design, as well as the vast knowledge base surrounding how to use them.
There is also the fact that numerous plugins exist that can make using the application even better. From all kinds of additional filters and effects to solutions meant to enhance Photoshop’s existing design tools, there is a burgeoning list of plugins that can enhance your design projects.
But with so many options at hand, it is worth knowing the best Photoshop plugins in order to get commendable results. If you are new to the Photoshop field or looking to get to another level with your design skills, it can be difficult to figure out which plugins are worth getting. That’s why we have put together this article to explore some of the leading free and paid solutions in the Photoshop plugins marketplace.
First, let’s discuss why it is a good idea to get your hands on a few Photoshop plugins, if you’re not already using any.
Importance of Photoshop Plugins
Regardless of your mastery level, designing in Photoshop can be quite a handful. Plugins make it easier to get the best out of the program and some even complement Photoshop’s built-in resources. More importantly, they can improve your design workflow, leading to more efficiency and even boosting your creative capacity.
There are plugins for all categories of Photoshop tasks, so whether you are a photographer or you are into creating original designs from scratch, you will find solutions to help you out. In this article, we will look at 15 of the top plugins that you might want to consider. Here goes…
Best Photoshop Plugins
1. Adobe Camera Raw
Camera Raw is one of the best plugins for photographers to have in their toolbox. This solution permits the editing of raw image elements such as lighting and color, as taken by a camera. Photoshop does not come with raw image editing functionality. For that, there is Adobe Lightroom, but it is not always desirable to work between two separate programs.
With the Adobe Camera Raw plugin, you can get access to the raw image processing capabilities of Lightroom, including re-touching and detailed editing, without having to leave the Photoshop interface. Camera Raw also offers filters that can be used to alter the color and lighting of non-raw images that are already being edited in Photoshop.
- Similar user interface and functions as Adobe Lightroom
- Saves processed raw images in JPEG, PSD, TIFF, or DNG
- Compatible with both Windows and Mac environments
- Supports a wide range of cameras and lenses
- Preserves original raw file during changes
Photoshop has many uses, including the design of user interfaces for web applications. If that is a design field you are in, you may want to get familiar with the Ink plugin for Photoshop.
The solution makes it easy to generate various specifications of a UI, including font styles, font sizes, font colors, HTML5 effects, shapes, widths, heights, and more. What’s more, Ink allows you to better understand Photoshop layers, as it documents all the technical changes made to a file on each layer. You can also manipulate the output properties of any UI design, so the web developer can see the frontend output without having to mull over all the underlying technical stuff.
- Detailed text formatting, including sizes, styles, colors, etc.
- Automatically records layer measurements
- Tracks and records your selected layer styles in a design
- Color recognition engine
- CSS rendering on layer properties for user-friendly output
Pricing: Free to use.
On the topic of web development, the CSS3Ps Photoshop plugin is a useful tool for people in this field who also use Photoshop. The plugin allows you to convert the layers in a project into CSS3 format. The cloud-based software works at the click of a button and spits out CSS coding that is ready to be copied and pasted.
In addition, the plugin supports a range of design elements and components that you are usually found in a typical Photoshop layer. These include stroke, gradient overlay, inner and outer glow, drop shadow and inner shadow, and border radius. The tool is also able to generate CSS for text layers, vendor prefixes, measurements, and can even handle multiple layers at once.
- One-click CSS3 conversion button
- Cloud-based so no need for manual updates
- Converts individual or multiple layers at once
- Compatible with both Mac and Windows
- Easy to set up
Pricing: Free to download and use.
4. RH Hover Color Picker
The default color picker in Photoshop is arguably not one of the application’s best features. Some users find it cumbersome, not to mention the fact that manipulating the percentages of hue, brightness, and saturation can be tricky.
With that said, the RH (Rico Holmes) Hover Color Picker plugin presents a much more convenient and user-friendly color control option. The tool is not only more pleasing to the eye but has a more sleek design and is customizable. You can use the sliders to adjust the values of any color you choose. Also, the RH Hover Color Picker acts as a nifty little pop-up box that automatically minimizes once you have finished using it.
- Simplified and modern color picker interface
- Minimized until there is a mouse hover
- Minimal impact on CPU only when picking and manipulating colors
- Color sliders that offer more control
- Works with both Windows and Mac
Pricing: Costs $16.
Powtoon is widely known as a visual design platform and is used by thousands of marketers and creators around the world. With this free plugin, Photoshop users are able to take advantage of Powtoon’s video creation powers. Specifically, you can use it to transform static designs into vibrant animated videos in only seconds.
The Powtoon Photoshop plugin works by allowing you to export art boards from Photoshop to Powtoon, which instantly converts them to animated videos. You can further customize your projects using stock images and footage, as well as animations, voiceovers, and even soundtracks. You can share the finished output directly to a variety of social media platforms and other websites.
- Works with latest Photoshop versions + compatible with Mac and Windows
- Automatic conversion upon export
- Ability to add all kinds of visual design edits
- Option to export to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. or download as mp4
- Allows syncing between Photoshop and Powtoon media library
Pricing: Free to use.
High dynamic range (HDR) photography is an appealing technique because it can be used to create more tonally dynamic images than can be taken with a camera. Image editors often try to achieve this with Photoshop and other photo-editing programs. However, the results are not always satisfactory. With that said, this Photomatix Tone Mapping plugin is considered as one of the best Photoshop plugins for HDR photo editing.
Photomatix Tone Mapping plugin is part of the Photomatix Pro Plus Bundle, which includes the Photomatix Pro and HDR batch plugins for Lightroom. The solution comes with a number of advanced editing tools. You can use it to bring out obscure details in a photo to make it pop. Also, you can carry out the HDR effect on a single image or on photos taken with multiple exposures. An ever-expanding raft of built-in tools and resources also make Photomatix one of the most flexible plugins in its class.
- Built-in HDR presets
- Compatible with Windows and Mac systems
- Includes four different HDR styles, each with unique editing adjustments
- Ability to save user settings as presets
- Brush tool for more accurate blending and color control
Pricing: Pro Plus bundle costs $119. Free trial available.
7. Getty Images
Stock imagery is a major need for graphic designers. While there are dozens of platforms offering royalty-free stock photos, the Getty Images Photoshop plugin makes it easy to look for and add high-quality visual assets into your projects. This can help you streamline your workflow as far as sourcing appropriate images is concerned.
The Getty Images Photoshop plugin comes with an advanced search and filtering system that simplifies the task of finding suitable images, video comps, and vectors. In addition, the plugin is integrated with Getty’s Easy Access, Premium Access, and UltraPack accounts, so you can work with all aspects of image use, including licensing, without having to leave Creative Cloud.
- Downloaded images available across devices and platforms – desktop, mobile app, or plugin
- Ability to license image within the program and keep all edits
- Advanced search and filter to find images, illustrations, videos, and more
- Works with CC 2018 and higher
- Also available in InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and After Effects
Pricing: Free to use with a Getty Images account.
8. Pexels Pro
Pexels is another popular resource for royalty-free stock imagery, but it can be time-consuming having to constantly download assets and then upload them to Photoshop. With the Pexels Pro Photoshop plugin, you can simply look for and add stock images and videos directly into your projects while you work.
The plugin is easy to set up and use and includes the entire Pexels library. As you probably know, images downloaded from Pexels do not require attribution (although it is recommended to give credit), so you can use the images as you see fit.
- Access to over three million free stock images and videos
- Can be used without an account
- Search option makes it easier to locate suitable images
- Discovery feature allows you to browse by creator
- Compatible with Photoshop 22.0 or later
9. ON1 Resize AI
Image resizing tools are a dime a dozen, but ON1 Resize AI takes accomplishing this common task to another level. The tool is rated as one of the best Photoshop plugins for resizing images without losing quality. In fact, the plugin makes it possible to enlarge photos taken by smartphone and DSLR cameras by as much as 1,000%.
ON1 Resize AI is built with an advanced algorithm that boosts image clarity and zooms in on details. In addition to its resizing capabilities, the plugin comes with a number of controls to help designers and photographers get the best results from their design assets.
- Advanced built-in file browsing and design presets
- Batch processing capabilities
- Image compression functions
- Super-resolution technology maintains details and sharpness while enlarging by up to 1,000%
- Useful for creating poster-sized prints
Pricing: One-time payment of $99.99.
10. Luminar Neo
Luminar Neo is a complete photo-editing solution that specializes in applying touch ups. As a Photoshop plugin, the tool assists with correcting certain aspects of portrait photos, including skin texture and tone, lips, eyes, and facial structure.
Also available as a Lightroom plugin, Luminar Neo makes use of a range of built-in AI components for skin, face, contrasting, and image background. For example, there are AIs that can be used to automatically remove backgrounds, auto-remove blemishes and dust specks, and even instantly enhance colors, tones, and details.
- Utilizes advanced AI technology for fast and accurate edits
- Useful for fixing skin imperfections and highlighting facial features
- Includes portrait Bokeh tool for attractive background blurring
- Tools for object removal, contrasting, image enhancement, and more
- Ability to add realistic mist, fog, and sunrays anywhere in images
Pricing: One-time fee of $119.
11. Eye Candy
Eye Candy is a popular solution among many seasoned Photoshop users, having been in existence for close to 20 years. In fact, Eye Candy is one of the best plugins for editing photos with a wide range of realistic effects that simply cannot be achieved using Photoshop alone.
The tool is especially useful for designers who have large workloads or are strapped for time. A highly visual menu and simple navigation make Eye Candy extremely user-friendly. In addition, the vast library of design effects promotes versatility, and the ability to further customize various aspects of each, lends to seemingly infinite use cases.
- Comes with over 30 effect categories and more than 1,000 presets
- Built-in controls to further customize effects
- Effects take up separate layer from user artwork
- Smart filter function allowing for later editing or effect removal
- Ability to save creations as presets for future use
Pricing: Latest version costs $89. Users of older versions can upgrade for $49.
12. Radiant Photo
AI is becoming more entrenched in photography and graphic design, and Radiant Photo is among the apps bringing the benefits to creators. The standalone app and plugin is actually a spinoff of Perfectly Clear Complete, an AI-powered photo enhancement tool that is set to be discontinued.
Radiant Photo simplifies the photo-editing process by automatically enhancing images, delivering stunning results in record time. The tool also comes with a range of built-in looks and controls that can work on all kinds of photos, from portraits and landscapes to buildings and food.
- Scene detection function analyzes and recognizes photo content
- Includes quick edit controls for further refinement of processed images
- Comes with smart presets to perform initial photo edits
- Optimizes photo quality for printing
- Detailed enhancements including sky and foliage toning and dark circle removal (eyes)
Pricing: Introductory price of $129. 14-day free trial available.
13. Layer Batch
An often overlooked aspect of using Photoshop is layer organization. Yet, this is important for future editing or reusing a PSD file. If you are not good at organizing your Photoshop layers, you can look into adding the Layer Batch plugin.
With Layer Batch, you can carry out all kinds of operations on layers – either individually or at once. You can, for example, batch rename, resize, and rotate all your layers at once. You can also use the plugin to unwrap or create multiple smart objects and apply all kinds of actions and effects to layers.
- User-friendly interface
- Perform batch or individual processes to Photoshop layers
- Carry out different actions and effects as needed
- Includes various layer transformation settings (for example, maintain aspect ratio and scale styles)
- Layer selection by type
Pricing: Free to download.
14. Exposure X7
The latest iteration of this Exposure software is chock-full of professional grade photo editing tools. The Photoshop plugin comes with a vast library of stunning looks and streamlined design capabilities to deliver high-quality results faster.
Exposure X7 delivers sharpened details and pinpoint color adjustments, as well as intuitive masking tools and effects layers. The plugin also offers integrated special effects and one-click automatic adjustments, making it a must-have for creators looking for quick and optimal photo editing tools.
- Available as a standalone application or plugin for Photoshop or Lightroom
- GPU optimized for fast editing
- Built-in editor for raw photo files
- Portrait retouching tools
- 3D color masking offering full control of how image adjustments are applied
Pricing: Latest version costs $129. Older versions can be upgraded for $89. 30-day free trial available.
Manipulating contrast is among the ways to enhance the visual currency of images using Photoshop. While you can use the built-in controls to great effect, using a dedicated contrast enhancer can deliver more eye-catching results for your photos and images.
The Advanced Local Contrast Enhancer (ALCE) solution is one of the top Photoshop plugins designed for doing that. ALCE comes with precise controls to adjust local contrast and can deliver a 3D look that significantly boosts the aesthetics of photos.
- Easy to use interface
- Offers basic mode (using a single parameter) and advanced mode (using multiple radii)
- On and off effects preview to see what results will look like
- Ability to adjust contrast radius from local to global
- Contrast intensity adjustment controls
Pricing: Costs $26.