Adobe Photoshop is one of the most powerful and popular software for photo editing, manipulating, and retouching images. It is used by beginners and professionals alike to improve the quality of images or videos by fixing color, reducing noise, adding effects, maintaining brightness and contrast, and manipulating other attributes.
Photoshop is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating system and consists of several versions. The creative cloud version of Photoshop, known as Photoshop CC, is available by subscription and mostly used on a professional level. Another version, called Photoshop Lightroom, is mainly used by photographers to process large volume images. Apart from this, a trimmed-down version is also available for the home users as Photoshop Elements. In case you want to go with a limited version having minimal features, then you can choose Photoshop Express.
There’s no doubt that Photoshop has powerful features that can cover a wide range of image editing requirements. However, performing certain tasks might not be possible using the software alone. Therefore, to overcome this limitation, Photoshop plugins are used. With plugins, you can add additional effects, simplify complex designs, and make your design projects more creative.
For installing plugins, start Photoshop, and from the dropdown menu, select Settings -> Plugins from Edit menu. Choose the ‘Folder of additional plugins’ for accepting newer files. Download your preferred plugin. In the C/D drive of your computer, look for ‘Program Files’ and the folder of ‘Photoshop’. Within it, you will find the ‘Plugins’ folder. Open it and put the downloaded plugin there. This new plugin will be available under the ‘Filter’ menu in Photoshop.
Free Photoshop Plugins for Mac OS
There are various free Photoshop plugins available online for the Mac OS. The most popular of them have been enumerated below.
- AirBrush 7.0
With airbrushing, you can creatively express your artistic instincts with paints like watercolor, oil, ink, acrylic, and gouache. The plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher and is available for $49 to $69.
- Blow Up 3.3.1
With this plugin, you can make the enlarged images perfectly sharp and clear. The plugin provides support for CMYK and Lightroom. You can get this for $99, and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Charcoal 4.0
With AKVIS Charcoal, you can get your images converted to chalk and charcoal drawings. This plugin reflects the image drawing potential of various materials and is compatible with various drawing tools. Both soft and bold strokes can be richly and easily created by using it. You can test the demo version first. You can get this for $49 to $69, and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Coloriage 12.0
This plugin allows the automatic colorization of photographs. You can colorize old greyscale images or replace colors in the existing images. Apart from this, it also allows you to test the demo version first. You can get this for $75 to $90, and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Draw 8.0
With this plugin, you can convert images to pencil art that resembles the hand-made drawings. Besides, realistic greyscale and color or line art drawings can also be made. You can get this for $49 to $69, and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Exposure X4 5.0.2
You can quickly create stunning images and get your photos organized. This plugin allows you to cull and retouch images at an amazing speed. Besides, you also get access to 100+ adjustable presets, special effects, and portrait retouching components while providing support for Lightroom and Photoshop workflows. You can get this for $149 (along with Snap Art) to $199 (Blow Up), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Neat Image 8.4.5
With this filter, you can significantly reduce the grain and noise present in the digital camera or scanner captured images. It also allows you to test the demo version first. You can get this for $35 to $60 (Pro), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.75 or higher.
You can create admirable glowing line effects for transforming an image into a neon photo. You can get this for $49 (plugin and application) to $39 (individual), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Noise Buster 10.4
This noise suppression software and plugin reduces color noise and luminance without impacting the other aspects of the image. With its help, you can reduce the grain or noise caused due to heated camera sensors, smaller pixel sizes, long exposure shooting, etc. You can get this for $55 (plugin and application) to $49 (individual), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- OilPaint 9.0
You can create oil paintings from images with a unique algorithm designed to simulate real brush strokes. You can get this for $69 (plugin and application) to $49 (individual), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Pastel 5.0
By using this plugin, you can convert images to pastel paintings. You can get this for $69 (plugin and application) to $49 (individual), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Points 5.0
You can convert your images into paintings with pointillism technique. You can get this for $49 (plugin and application) to $39 (individual), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Retoucher 9.6
With Retoucher 9.6, you can eliminate scratches, defects, dust, or stains from the damaged images and cover the missing image parts with the desired information. You can get this for $98 (plugin and application) to $87 (individual), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Sketch 22.0
This plugin can help you to create stunning pencil drawings from any image and was developed by AKVIS. You can get this for $89 (plugin and application) to $72 (individual), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Snap Art 4.1.3
This plugin allows you to experiment with different artistic styles through a user-friendly interface. Many presets are also available for enhancing the design and reducing distractions. You can get this for $99, and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
- Watercolor 5.0
With this plugin, you can use flowing fluid lines, translucent colors, and luminous paints. You can get this for $69 (plugin and application) to $49 (individual), and the plugin is compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.
Free Plugins for Windows OS
Besides the above Photoshop plugins for mac, you can also find several plugins for Windows OS. Some of these are enlisted below.
- Harry’s Filters
With this plugin, you can get sixty-nine effects in 9 categories, including nature, color, warp, artistic, noise, gradients, other, patterns, ad En/Decrypt. You can adjust colors, use gradients and patterns, apply paint effects, zoom, add noise, use animation tools, apply blending modes, etc. This plugin has 130+ presets, and is compatible with CS4 and above versions.
- Medhi Plugins
Here, you can get access to 20+ plugins for creating textures, applying color effects (Absolute Colors, Color MegaMix, Minute Lut), adjusting color and contrast, removing grains, creating fractal effects, generating symmetry-based patterns, deforming images with wave mechanisms (Melt, Weaver, Wavy Lab), creating seamless textures, generating painting effect, and more. These plugins work well with Adobe Photoshop CC.
- Richard Rosenman plugins
This plugin is based on special functions and fractals. With its help, you can generate halftone patterns as well as apply image effects such as Julia, self-similarity, and Mandelbrot (Fractus, Carotid Function Fractal, Barnsley Fern Fractal, Buddhabrot, Fractal Flames).
With the help of this plugin, you can insert light spots and directional lights in the image. Besides, you can use it for making shadows, choosing colors, creating smoke effects or random rays, and positioning light direction. This plugin works well with Adobe Photoshop CS5.
- Cybia Plugins
This plugin set allows you to creatively add image effects and filters to enhance pictures and streamline the workflow efficiency. It is usually compatible with Adobe Photoshop 6.0 or higher version. Below are some of the plugins included here.
- Plug-In Switch-Allows enabling and disabling of plugins to make your workflow efficient.
- Photomatic-Has 8 plugins for proving effects inspired by darkroom and analog camera techniques. You can get grain effects with G-Force; sepia styles, classic greyscale, and dramatic contrast with Hi-Spot; clean greyscale images with Techni-X; night vision effect with NightScope; infra-red effects with Pseudo-IR; and sky effects with SkyGrad. Besides, you can also convert the images to black and white with BW-Plus and enhance them with FastFix.
- The Works-Has 8 portraiture plugin sets for filter effects like transparency (AlphaWorks), color effects (ColourWorks), creation of dramatic edges (EdgeWorks), inserting textures and patterns (ScreenWorks), inserting creative styles of embossing (EmbossWorks), color switching (SwapShop), adding dramatic color driven effects (MasterBlasting), and creating grain and mezzy styles (Mezzy).
- Color Surprise- Can be used for adding effects through color randomization.
- Chromagic- Allows toreplace one or more colors with transparency.
- Image Inc- Provides imagebending option with the help of a transparency layer mask.
- Brush Starter plugin-Has 1100+ texture brushes, 600 classic brushes, and three hundred mini brushes with 40-pixel diameter. Besides, 100 brushes with a spacing set of 80% and 60% respectively are also
- MonoFill- Offers400+ computer-generated textures in monochrome.
- ImageSkill plugins
The Magic Enhancer offers tools to enhance images by adjusting brightness, contrast, and color balance. You can make seamless patterns with symmetry rules using a Tile Builder that has 100+ patterns and about 25 masks. You can contour images with Outliner.
- Stereogram Lab Filter
You can make stereogram-shaped patterns and textures by setting texture tiles numbers, start position and anti-aliasing level.
- MV’s Plugins
These set of plugins are provided by Martin Vicanek. Some of the prominent ones among them are:
- Color Cube – For 3D visualization of all colors in the photo
- Color Replacer- For replacement of a specific color
- Contrast Mask- For enhancement of contrast in photos having a high dynamic range
- Hue Restorer- For fixing overexposed images
- Pano Warp- For panorama stitching
- Perspective Transformations- For tilting and panning images
- Pinocchio- For using distortion effects
- Sliding Tile Puzzle- For the creation of slide puzzles
- Vignette Corrector- For vignette effects
- Wire Worm -For eliminating wires and other objects that can impact any image
- Nvidia Texture Tools
With this tool, you can generate textures, normal maps, mipmap, texture compression, cube map, etc.
- Kill White
You can eliminate white halos from a picture, replace backgrounds, process sketches, and add artistic effects.
- Super Cubic
It is a filter plugin that helps in retouching 360-degrees panorama. It will help to unwrap all sides of the panorama into flat planes and add the desired visual effects. Once its done, you can wrap the panoramas back to the original form.
The various Photoshop extension and plugins discussed above for Mac and Windows OS can prove very useful to make the software more efficient. You can achieve outstanding digital creations by choosing the right plugin for photo editing according to your design requirements. It can help a lot in saving time and facilitating a smoother workflow. However, one quick tip is to explore the full functionality of the plugin or extension in demo mode before finalizing the purchase. It can save you from making any improper choices.