The Photoshop community is choc-full of many free resources, tutorials, tips and techniques, .psd files and even Actions. There is one area that it sadly lacks in, and that is free plugins and filters. Of course, Photoshop has been the pioneer in graphic editor development for a long time now, and with each new version (its current version is CS4) has added an endless supply of features and addons, and as a result, perhaps the need for free plugins or filters is no longer required. Or has it been ignored?
Traditionally plugins are an amateur photographer’s best friend, take your shots, fire up Photoshop, apply some well preset filters, and hey presto you have a reasonably professional image. Professional photographers have been known to use plugins as a base and then tweak and add effects to achieve there own personal professional touch. Plugins are basically an indispensable tool that do not receive the attention they deserve. And that brings us back to our original mystery, why are there so few free plugins and filters? Do you know the answer? I don’t.
In this A-Z of free Photoshop plugins and filters you will find a few plugins that are (almost) as old as time itself, do not fear, they will work perfectly on all versions of Photoshop and the effect they produce are just as useful now as they were then. If you are looking for a simple and easy method to add effects to an image, this is the post for you.
A-Z of Free Photoshop Plugins & Filters Link
3D Shadow Link
This handy plugin easily creates various types of 3D shadows from objects such as letters, numbers, shapes and so on. All settings are present in a single window – transparency level, perspective, shadow color and position, X/Y/Z angles, and many more.
More Details and Downloads1
AAA Buzzer Link
AAA Buzzer simplifies your image while retaining sharp edges, with low ratio settings in works fairly quickly, it does work slower at a higher ratio, but it also removes more detail.
More Details and Downloads2
Absolute Color Link
B/W Conversion Link
This is a black and white conversion plugin with a difference. It allows you to take total control over the tonal response of Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue and Magenta, and the intermediate hues. The user can boost each colors tonal response all the way up to white or limit it down to black, without affecting the other colors at all .
More Details and Downloads4
Bad Dream Link
Bad Dream gives the kind of color-casts that you would normally spend hours trying to correct; it also gives a soft, misty effect, and the final result can be quite pleasing on the right kind of image.
This filter transforms an image to appear as though it is carved in bas-relief, giving it a lighting effects to accent the surface variations. It can look like aluminum foil, hammered metal, or carved stone, it can also be used to convert a photo into a pencil sketch.
More Details and Downloads5
Use the Camouflage plug-in to make army, fashion and animal camo. The Camouflage plug-in creates seamless images, this means you can use them as textures and patterns for 3D models or as a background for web sites, they can even be used as a pattern for clothing.
More Details and Downloads6
This plugin creates a simple ‘oil-painting’ effect, with just four sliders to adjust the image, choose from Creativity, Exuberance, Attentiveness and Moodswing
Chalkaholic renders chalk and charcoal type effects with artistic style and flair. It creates a uniquely effective artistic rendering options, it is an essential addition to any digital artist’s effects collection.
More Details and Downloads66617
Circle to Square Link
Cloud 2.2 Link
Color MegaMix Link
Color MegaMix modifies the colors of any image, it is based on two rows of colors: 8 source colors and 8 target colors. Taking into account this data, the plugin reconstructs completely the color space of the image.
More Details and Downloads10
Color Replacer Link
This filter performs color replacement functions. The function is similar to Photoshop’s Replace Color command, however, this plugin is more flexible since you can select the source and target colors independently. Therefore, it is possible to tint gray areas with an arbitrary color, which can be useful for recovering the color in overexposed areas.
More Details and Downloads11
This plugin comes packaged with 20 effects for modifying image color values in many different ways. You can use them for subtle correction of your digital photos or experiment with the more dramatic transformations that are available. The effects are quite basic, but they can be handy for use on a regular basis.
Contrast Balance Link
Contrast Balance enhances the traditional filter luminosity/contrast and breaks it down into four balances of constant/contrast, using the following four oppositions: white-black, red-cyan, green-magenta, blue-yellow.
More Details and Downloads12
Contrast Mask Link
This plugin uses a contrast mask to reduce the overall contrast of the image, simultaneously bringing out more detail in both highlights and shadows.
A b/w negative of the image is blurred (with a radius controlled by the “Smoothing” slider) to avoid hard edges and then overlayed with the original, darkening the highlights and lightening the shadows. The opacity of the overlay is controlled by the “Strength” slider.
More Details and Downloads13
Craquelure 3D Link
This filter creates a wide range of well known craquelure (krăkloor´) effects, that is useful in designing various abstract patterns, decorative surfaces and construction materials.
Two independent craquelure layers can be controlled to achieve an amazing variety of texture effects, from etched metal and silk plaster to melted glass and water ripples.
More Details and Downloads14
Curves Plugin Link
The Curves plugin can create eight predetermined, interesting curves within your image. The plugins interface shows several thumbnails of the curves, select the one you like and then be impressed by the impact it will have on your image.
More Details and Downloads15
DepthDither uses 3 ways to make the image seems to be continuous when the color is below 24 bit. Just like Photoshop, it provides diffusion, pattern and noise as the dither modes. You can choose the destination color depth, such as 2 bit, 4 bit, 12 bit, 15 bit, 16 bit, 18 bit, this is the main difference from Photoshop, the latter only provides less than 256 colors mode.
More Details and Downloads16
Dreamy Photo Link
Dreamy Photo gives images a soft romantic feel. This is a superb effect for enhancing stock photography, digital camera photos and any image you want to add a warm feel to.
More Details and Downloads17
Edges Fx Link
This plugin comes with 20 effects for creating dramatic edge and color modifications. They are best used when experimenting with intense photo transformations for a highly stylized look. They are also handy when creating interesting texture effects.
This plugin can be used for producing various quick and easy embossing styles. They are handy when you need to add a sense of depth or relief to an otherwise flat image.
Eraser Classic Link
Eraser classic makes it easier to replace any color you choose from your image. Activate the eyedropper, select the color directly in the preview window, and adjust tolerance .
More Details and Downloads20
Face Control Link
Fine Threshold Link
Flat Median Link
The Flat Median plugin is a little bit more useful than the “regular” median filter. You have added controls over the level of Flatness, it is “isotropic” just like the gaussian blur and you can apply the effect either horizontally or vertically.
More Details and Downloads23
Fur Plugin Link
This plugin spreads a simple figure (line or circle with configurable dimensions/thickness) over the whole image. Each image can be filled using two methods: Solid, the figure is filled with a single color (determined by the figure’s center) and 180 deg, were the image source content is kept, but with 180 degree rotation.
More Details and Downloads24
The Fuzzifier is a filter that produces diffusion, but preserve details. There are three sliders, designated ‘Spread’, ‘Strength’ and ‘Fuzziness’. At high ‘Spread’ settings, the effect becomes grain-like, so keep this slider at the low end unless that’s what you’re trying for. Strength, of course, controls the overall strength of the effect, while ‘Fuzziness’ controls the effectiveness with which detail is preserved.
Gradient Blur Link
This plugin applies a gradient blur that draw the attention to the photograph’s main subject. There are sliders to control the position where the blur starts and it’s strength.
More Details and Downloads25
Gradient Smithy Link
Grain Natural 2 Link
Harmonix renders a single, horizontal line on an image, but this is no ordinary line, it is the result of superimposing up to ten separate harmonic frequencies, scaled to the screen. You can use it to create realistic graphs or demonstrate how to create other basic waveforms from nothing but carefully selected harmonic frequencies.
More Details and Downloads28
Harry’s Filters Link
The famous “Harry’s Filters” is a series of filters that contains up to 69 different image effects. The main effect categories are called Color, Artistic, Gradients, Patterns, Warp, Noise, En/Decrypt, Other and Nature. It also includes filters for changing the image color or mood, for creating artistic effects, producing colorful gradients or impressive patterns, warping images and adding special noise effects to image. Additionally they let you encrypt and decrypt images with 64 bit keys, produce zoom, mirror or paint effects as well as natural effects like lightning, tornado and polar lights.
More Details and Downloads29
High Pass Sharpening Link
HSL Plus Link
HSL Plus is similar to the traditional hue/saturation/luminosity balance, but with some extras. It has a better color integrity, improved control over luminosity, and you also have the option of making an automatic contrast (due to the Auto button) then of re-adjusting.
More Details and Downloads31
ICO Windows Icon Link
This simple plugin creates an effect similar to a colored-ink illustration.
Jama 3d Link
Julia World Link
Julia ‘s curves are a family of mathematical curves (fractals) renowned for their beauties. This plugin is very easy to use, all you have to do to find a curve and simply click the Random button, thats it. It also allows endless zooming to help you easily customize colors.
More Details and Downloads34
Kaleidoscope 2.1 Link
Lattice Composer Link
Lattice Composer effectively designs grids and nettings, it can produce a variety of weave patterns, fabric textures, body art tattoos and skeleton simulations. The 3D text effects can be extraordinary.
More Details and Downloads36
Lens Correction Link
This plugin corrects barrel and pincushion distortions that many zoom camera lenses produce. Just move the sliders to the left to correct barrel distortion, and to the right to correct pincushion .
More Details and Downloads37
Local Contrast Enhancement Link
This plugin’s main purpose is to enhance the detail of an image. This is achieved by increasing the contrast between a pixel’s value and the mean value of the adjacent pixels in a local area of the photo. You can control the amount of contrast that is increased, the size of the local area and the amount of blending with the original photo.
More Details and Downloads38
Local Equalization Link
From an artistic point of view, local equalization can be used if you wish to enhance the aspect of a given texture. It can also be used to analyze and optimize an image certain details are barely viewable.
More Details and Downloads39
Magic Enhancer Lite Link
With Magic Enhancer you can essentially improve your photos by adjusting its lightness, contrast and color balance It is perfect for enhancement image and photos which lack lightness or uneven illumination, silhouetted images on dark backgrounds. Convenient color temperature control allows fixing color balance defects easily.
More Details and Downloads41
A single Photoshop-compatible plug-in with 20 effects for “blasting” intense color into your images. Ideal for when you need to add dramatic impact to your photos or work.
Melt 1.1 Link
The Mezzy plug-in comes packaged with 15 effects for creating a selection of simple grain and mezzo styles, it gives your photos a new look with these various effects. (No MAC version).
The Mistifier recreates the hazy, soft-focus effect beloved of traditional SLR photographers. This is ideal for portraits, but can also be used to great effect on landscapes, giving a sort of dreamy quality.
Mosaic makes your photos look as if they were created out of a mosaic tile. Photo-realistic depth and variable tile size and color options give this effect an infinite number of looks.
More Details and Downloads43
The Nightscope is a filter for adding a basic “night-vision” effect to your digital photographs and/or 2D and 3D computer-generated images.
It first removes all color from the picture and gives a very slight blur to indicate the camera is trying hard to focus in a low-light situation. Then you can choose to add grain either keeping it B&W or mixing separate red, green and blue channels to vary the effect.
The NightVision plug-in can make any image look like the ones from night-vision goggles. By using the effects in this plug-in, you can make images look like they are from a black & white security cameras or CCTV, it’s also possible to make them look like infra-red photos, or you can just use the interlace to make an image look like a TV picture.
More Details and Downloads44
The plugin selectively desaturates your image, but also gives a subtle change in hues. The end result is that some parts of the image become monochrome, while others take on a an unrealistic-looking coloration.
Panorama Tools Link
Panorama Tools is a free program which can be used to generate, edit and transform many kinds of panoramic images. It comes packaged with an added plugin called Realtime Panorama Editor (only Photoshop/Gimp version), which makes the Photoshop window an editable VR-viewer. You can pan left and right, tilt up and down, and zoom in and out. At any time you can use all the Photoshop tools to edit the image and instantly apply the changes to the warped panoramic image while keeping the interactive window open.
More Details and Downloads46
Give your images a pastel effect with this simple plugin.
Perspective Transformations Link
Sometimes it is hard choose the optimum angle to take a picture. If the object is essentially planar (e.g. a painting on a wall) or the angle is not off by much then there is hope that you can correct the perspective afterwards. The opposite may also be of interest if you want to make a composition and place objects at different angles, e.g. pep up screenshots for a brochure.
The Perspective plugin lets you carry out both active (“Modify” ) and passive (“Rectify” ) transformations. You can rotate the image around three axes, then reposition and resize it. Grid lines can be displayed both before and after transformation.
More Details and Downloads47
Photo Tinter Link
“AS Photo tinter” is an image editing plug-in filter for extracting tone profile from toned black and white photos and applying extracted profiles to another photo. It is not yet another sepia effect – you may apply different tints to different areas of the photo, based on source brightness.
Pinocchio is mainly a fun tool to produce image distortions by mouse strokes. You can use it for caricatures and such. Just click on the preview image and drag in whichever direction, then use the sliders for fine tuning. This version lets you perform multiple mouse strokes without having to exit and reopen the plugin.
More Details and Downloads49
Pole Transform 2.1 Link
This plugin gives you a collection of interactive perspective effects: the ability to tile an image into infinite space (copy or mirror mode), or to repeat all the edges The 3D effect can be achieved simply by moving the corners of the image (in the preview window).
More Details and Downloads52
The RedEYes plugin removes the red eye effect often caused by a flash camera. It employs an easy-to-use semi-automatic algorithm that quickly and economically eliminates the problem.
More Details and Downloads53
The ScreenWorks plugin has 30 options for creating screen/mesh patterns. This provides you with a quick way to add small detailed and repetitive texture overlay effects to areas of your image in one easy step. The single slider setting gives you the option to add the chosen pattern on top of your image, or make the layer background white. (No MAC version).
Seamless Border Link
With this plugin you can create a seamless border from any image. There are three modes: Compact overlaps borders of two tiles, and blends them in a linear way; Advantage: usually, creates the best continuity between tiles; Disadvantage: the size of the last tile may vary with the “Border Size” setting, and you will have to crop the result manually; Stretch: Unlike “Compact Mode” , tiles are first extended by stretching the borders; Mirror: Unlike “Compact Mode” , tiles are first extended by using symmetries.
More Details and Downloads55
Seamless Workshop Link
Seamless Workshop creates a seamless tile from any image. You can also create a “surrealistic modification” of a picture, as in the image below. It is a powerful tool for texture creators, and a helpful toy for graphic designers. The unique ‘Seamless Blur’ effect can be useful for any available tile-able pattern.
More Details and Downloads56
Select Edges Link
The Select Edges plugin is a powerful tool for selective processing. You can select edge detail in your image for sharpening with Unsharp Mask without getting halos or switch to the inverse selection and use Gaussian Blur to diminish the background.
Selective Saturation Link
This plugin, Selective Saturation, lets the user define a Saturation Zone by setting it’s center and range with two sliders. A mask preview mode is available to fine tune the settings.
More Details and Downloads57
Serious Fog Link
This plugin gives your image a fog-like effect. Using the ‘Severity’ slider controls the thickness of the fog, and the ‘Whiteout’ slider lets you suggest that maybe the sun will burn off the fog later in the day. Simple, yet effective.
Smart Refinement Link
This plug-in enhances sharpness, depth-of-field (DOF) and noise (dust) reduction.
With the Snowflakes plug-in, you can make it snow any time of the year, anywhere you want. You can control all aspects of a snow, adjust the size of the snowflakes, choose soft snowflakes or hail, the quantity and density of falling snowflakes and even the color of the flakes.
Soft Focus Link
This plugins applies a soft focus effect, which is often useful in portraits or fashion photography. There are controls to adjust the focus softness, the overall strength of the effect and the blending mode of the overlayed blurred image.
More Details and Downloads58
Soft Vignette Link
Vignette effects, where the edges of the image shade off gradually, are always a popular feature required by photographers. This plugin is feature heavy, you can adjust the gradient shape, sharpness, invert the gradient, select from 14 preset effects, choose a pattern, select the effect strength and, of course, you can adjust the height and width.
Sorting Tiles Link
Stereogram Lab Filter Link
A single plugin with 15 effects for switching the color values in your images. Useful for experimenting with interesting combinations and creating surreal results. Windows only.
A plug-in filter for very high contrast B&W effects which are ideal for certain illustration work. It bleaches out most of the mid-tone grays, leaving crisp dark blacks and bright clean whites. It will produce clear B&W images with limited tones which are suitable for cheap reproduction via the office photocopier or when published in newsprint.
Tone 1.0 Link
Vibrations 1.1 Link
Water Ripples Link
The highly realistic water ripples effect designer has numerous options as well as an impressive 3D quality. The random settings generator produces unlimited variations of rippled surfaces.
More Details and Downloads64
Xpose is an exposure adjustment plugin, it is a quick adjustment tool that for highlights and shadows. With just a few sliders you can achieve better exposure of your digital photos.
More Details and Downloads66617
Plugin Development Resources Link
Filter Foundry Plugin67
The Filter Factory is a free plug-in that has been developed to allow users to create their own filters and effects using an internal programming language (which resembles C) and compile them as separate plug-in files.
This is another free plugin that allows users to create there own plugins. This plugin offers extensive documentation, step-by-step tutorials and free downloadable samples. This type of plugin is perfect for anyone with limited knowledge of any script language.
Photoshop CS4 SDK 69
If you are feeling really adventurous, you could develop a plugin using the Photoshop SDK. Previously you would have to pay just shy of $200 for the SDK, it is now free, the only thing you have to do is register with Adobe.
- 1 http://www.artistic-effects.com/3d-shadow/
- 2 http://8bf.net/
- 3 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/absolute.htm
- 4 http://www.photo-plugins.com/Plugins/Plugins/B-W-Conversion-2.html
- 5 http://www.redfieldplugins.com/Redfield++.htm
- 6 http://www.vanderlee.com/plugins_camouflage.html
- 7 http://www.littleinkpot.co.uk/FreePlugins.htm
- 8 http://www.flamingpear.com/circletosquare.html
- 9 http://www.geocities.com/murakuma/mmplugins.html
- 10 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/colormegamix.htm
- 11 http://www.vicanek.de/plugins/colorreplacer.htm
- 12 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/contrastbalance.htm
- 13 http://www.photo-plugins.com/Plugins/Plugins/Contrast-Mask-2.html
- 14 http://www.redfieldplugins.com/filterCraquelure3D.htm
- 15 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/curves.htm
- 16 http://depthdither.graphest.com/index.htm
- 17 http://www.autofx.com/freeplugins/dreamyphoto.asp?id=7
- 18 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/edgesfx.htm
- 19 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/equalizer.htm
- 20 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/eraserclassic.htm
- 21 http://www.redfieldplugins.com/filterFaceControl.htm
- 22 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/finethreshold.htm
- 23 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/flatmedian.htm
- 24 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/fur.htm
- 25 http://www.photo-plugins.com/Plugins/Plugins/Gradient-Blur-2.html
- 26 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/gradientsmithy.htm
- 27 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/grainnatural.htm
- 28 http://www.vanderlee.com/plugins_harmonix.html
- 29 http://www.thepluginsite.com/products/harrysfilters/index.htm
- 30 http://www.photo-plugins.com/Plugins/Plugins/High-Pass-Sharpening.html
- 31 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/hslplus.htm
- 32 http://www.telegraphics.com.au/sw/
- 33 http://www.redfieldplugins.com/filterJama3d.htm
- 34 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/juliaworld.htm
- 35 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/kaleidoscope.htm
- 36 http://www.redfieldplugins.com/filterLatticeComposer.htm
- 37 http://www.photo-plugins.com/Plugins/Plugins/Lens-Correction-2.html
- 38 http://www.photo-plugins.com/Plugins/Plugins/Local-Contrast-Enhancement-2.html
- 39 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/localequalization.htm
- 40 http://amicoperry.altervista.org/luce/index.html
- 41 http://www.imageskill.com/magicenhancer/magicenhancer.html
- 42 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/melt.htm
- 43 http://www.autofx.com/freeplugins/mosaic.asp?id=20
- 44 http://www.vanderlee.com/plugins_nightvision.html
- 45 http://www.flamingpear.com/ornament.html
- 46 http://www.all-in-one.ee/~dersch/
- 47 http://www.vicanek.de/plugins/perspective.htm
- 48 #
- 49 http://www.vicanek.de/plugins/pinocchio.htm
- 50 http://www.geocities.com/murakuma/mmplugins.html
- 51 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/posterizer.htm
- 52 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/projection.htm
- 53 http://www.alphaplugins.com/products/products.php?menu=get_prod_id&p_menustate=&prod_id=12
- 54 http://www.philipp-spoeth.de/photoshop/retrodots.php
- 55 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/seamlessborder.htm
- 56 http://www.redfieldplugins.com/filterSeamlessWorkshop.htm
- 57 http://www.photo-plugins.com/Plugins/Plugins/Selective-Saturation-2.html
- 58 http://www.photo-plugins.com/Plugins/Plugins/Soft-Focus-2.html
- 59 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/sortingtiles.htm
- 60 http://hidden-3d.com/stereogram_photoshop_filter.php
- 61 http://www.littleinkpot.co.uk/FreePlugins.htm
- 62 http://www.geocities.com/murakuma/mmplugins.html
- 63 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/vibrations.htm
- 64 http://www.redfieldplugins.com/filterWaterRipples.htm
- 65 http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/weaver.htm
- 66 http://www.littleinkpot.co.uk/FreePlugins.htm
- 67 http://www.telegraphics.com.au/sw/info/filterfoundry.html
- 68 http://www.filtermeister.com/
- 69 http://www.adobe.com/devnet/photoshop/sdk/
- 70 http://www.adobe.com/devnet/photoshop/scripting/
- 71 http://www.adobe.com/devnet/photoshop/scripting/
Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf New York, on June 14–15, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.