The 7 Essential Photoshop Plugins 2018

photoshop plugins

Photoshop in itself is a creative powerhouse and a ‘can’t live without’ tool for photographers and designers. But, there are countless plugins available that will allow you to get even more out of Adobe’s photo editing software.
We’ve rounded up seven essential Photoshop plugins that will help you take your images to the next level.

7. OptikVerve Labs VirtualPhotographer

Perfect for Photoshop newbies, VirtualPhotographer makes light work of classic effects such as high contrast and black and white. With this plugin you can create complex edits in seconds, adding masses of production value with minimal hassle.

Choose from 200 one-click presets including polarize, infrared, and gradient, to get the effect you want. Then, use batch mode to apply the change to a series of images with no need for manual manipulation. You can even save your favorites in a folder for easy access during future Photoshop sessions.

The latest version of VirtualPhotographer features new tabbed controls and an easier to navigate interface, making it even simpler to take your images to the next level.

6. Filter Forge

filter forge photoshop plugin example

Filter Forge is the first and last word in filters for Photoshop. As well as applying visual effects to your images, you can also enhance photographs or drawings made in drawing software and create textures. There are over 12,000 user-created filters to choose from, and if that’s not enough, you can also create your own custom options. In terms of what you can do to your images, think frames, distortion, patterns and modifications: to name but a few options.

Version 6 saw the addition of full 64-bit support for both Windows and Mac, and the recently released version 7.0 features further impressive upgrades. The rendering engine has been improved so images are processed much quicker, and support for copying and pasting images from and to Filter Forge has also been added. 

5. Corel ParticleShop

If you’re into creating digital art, ParticleShop is a must-have Photoshop plugin. 11 different brushes will bring your composites to life by allowing you to enhance your photos, paintings, and illustrations with custom textures. Choose from brushes including fabric, fur, hair, and smoke to get the exact effect your artwork needs, or download additional brush packs to match your exact workflow requirements.

This plugin can be used with a pressure sensitive tablet, a touchscreen laptop, or a traditional mouse, allowing you to work exactly how you want to. You can also choose to work directly from an image, or if you prefer you can create layers to build texture within your image.

4. Alien Skin Exposure X3

If you’re a professional who’s looking to simplify your workflow, Exposure X3 is an excellent choice. ‘Instant access’ lets you start cutting down and editing your images whilst they import, letting you get to work quicker, and ‘intuitive management’ mimics the folder structure of your computer, so it’s quick and easy to access your images.

Organization isn’t the only strong point of this plugin: there are plenty of creative tools built in, too. There are over 500 presets which can be easily applied to your images, and you can choose between using them as they are, or customized to your specific requirements. It’s also possible to blend presets via the non-destructive layering and brushing tools. 

3. Alien Skin Blow Up

Have you ever been sent an image by a client but it’s not of a high enough resolution for you to use? No problem, Alien Skin’s Blow Up plugin is the solution. This smart software keeps images pin-sharp during enlargement, retaining the quality you need for largescale prints.

Blow Up is used in the same way that Photoshop’s resize command is used, meaning that it’s simple to master if you already know your way around Adobe’s image editing software. Alien Skin’s algorithm is more advanced, though, allowing the plugin to produce more accurate images without artefacts. Every professional is sure to find this super-practical plugin useful at some stage in their career. 

2. Getty Images Adobe CC plugin

Pretty much all designers and photographers will need to make use of stock imagery once in a while, and Getty Images have made their vast archives easily available via their Photoshop plugin.

Without even leaving Photoshop, you can search and filter images, illustrations, and videos. Then, when you’ve found your chosen assets, it’s possible to download hi-res comps so you can edit them in all their glory without committing to buying them. Then, if you do purchase the assets, your edits will be automatically carried over. What could be simpler?

If you already have a Getty Images account, all of your previous downloads will be accessible via the plugin, helping to streamline your workflow.

1. Imagenomic Portraiture

portraiture photoshop plugin

Retouchers everywhere love Imagenomic’s solution for fast and simple portrait retouching. This smart plugin automates the process of retouching using precise masking, eliminating the need for manual selective masking and pixel-by-pixel editing.

With this time-saving software, you can create perfectly smooth and even skin that is free of blemishes and imperfections, without having to put in hours of monotonous manual work. What’s really great about this plugin though, is that it can accomplish all this without softening an image or destroying details in more complex areas such as around eyelashes.

Wrapping it up

Photoshop itself is an incredible tool which will take your images to the next level. But, whether you’re a designer, photographer or artist, our list of essential plugins are sure to improve your workflow and enhance your creativity.

Do you have a favorite plugin that you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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