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5 best free photoshop plugins

October 2nd, 2008 No Comments


Last time, you learned about basics of Photoshop plugins. Today, you are going to discover free plugins, filters in particular, which will improve the efficiency of your every Photoshop session and transform your average-looking images to extraordinary ones.
All the plugins that will be presented are Windows- and Mac OS-compatible. Also, the plugins were tested in Photoshop CS1 for this tutorial. But many of these plugins work just fine with lower Photoshop versions, and even with PaintShop Pro or PhotoPaint.
Here are 5 helpful and free Photoshop plugins from the thousands available online:

1.     Luce

Photography is all about light. Change the quality of light on a cloud photo using this filter and insert beams of light shining through it. This can be done through a number of steps in Photoshop. Do it in one or two clicks using Luce from Amico Perry.

2.     BorderMania

Adding borders to a single photo is easy, but it can be time-consuming if you have to put borders on all photos of a 50-piece portfolio. BorderMania filter allows for easier application of borders and frames. Tweak your image and play around with different types of borders. Make sure to increase the size of your canvas before you add frames so that the borders don’t cover parts of the image.

3.      Mosaic

Who can resist mosaics? Auto FX’s Mosaic  filter took Photoshop’s built-in mosaic options and blew it out of the water with far more effects you can do with an image.


This plugin seems like a stand-alone application with its large and attractively designed interface. It also includes standard menu functions like File, Edit, and View. You can control mosaic options that include tile size, depth, neatness, color shift, and spacing.

4.      Dreamy Photo

Remember the Photoshop tutorial on achieving a dreamy effect for your photos? That’s the long-hand; there’s another Auto FX plugin called Dreamy Photo that does the trick in one strike. Controls include scales for blur, blend, “ghosting,” tint color, and mask softness.

5.      Harry’s Filters

Imagine having access to 69 image effects using one control window—the possibilities are limitless. Download Harry’s Filters ThePluginSite and start experimenting with the effects.


The 2 available dropdown menus provide plenty of options where you can change effects on color, noise, warp, and patterns. The plugin also includes a feature called “auto” that allows you to sit back, relax, and watch your photo transform from one setting to another until you find the look you want. The plugin automatically does the job for you.
That’s it: the 5 best free Photoshop plugins you can check out. Try it on your photos and let us know how you find them. If you have other plugin suggestions and tips, feel free to post them in the comments section.

Beginner’s Guide to Photoshop Plugins

September 22nd, 2008 3 Comments

 You probably already know that Adobe Photoshop is the magic wand of photo editing. But for more demanding image editing projects, Photoshop alone is not enough. There are tools out there that add more advanced capabilities like design blurring and color embossing to your Photoshop software. They are called plugins.

What are Photoshop plugins?
Photoshop plugins are supplemental programs that provide you with additional options to edit and enhance your photos, including actions or effects that are impossible to achieve with basic Photoshop commands. Also, they can make your work easier and faster by automating processes.
Photoshop is proud to have one of the largest collections of third-party plugins. Developed by Adobe and other independent corporations, plugins may require a fee, but there are also great ones that you can use free-of-charge.
What are the types of plugins?
Photoshop plugins fall into several types:

·         Filter plugin

It’s the most common type of plugin. It has an 8bf file format and normally provides special effects to images.


·         Import/export plugins

These plugins acquire or write image data from or to certain devices. An import plugin is also called acquisition and uses an 8ba file format. An export plugin uses 8be.


·         File format plugin

It opens and saves rare image formats that are not supported by Photoshop. It uses the 8bi file format.


·         Automation plugin

Like macros, this plugin that uses 8ly file type automates certain tasks in Photoshop such as a series of contrast adjustments you need to apply on your portraits shots.


·         Selection/parser plugins

Only Adobe creates these types of plugins. They use 8bs and 8by file formats, respectively.
How do you use these Photoshop plugins?
You need to install your plugins in graphics host applications or plugin hosts before you can use them. There are many graphics applications that support Photoshop plugins. Aside from Adobe Photoshop, some of the popular ones are:

  • Paint Shop Pro
  • Photoshop Elements
  • PhotoImpact
  • Corel PhotoPaint
  • Adobe Fireworks


To run the plugins in programs other than Photoshop, instructions are widely available online.

On the other hand, installing your plugins in Photoshop is fairly easy. First, make sure that your Photoshop is closed when installing new plugins. If your plugin package comes with an installer, you will be guided in the installation process and in a few clicks, you’re done.
But if you only have your plugin in, say, 8bf file extension, how will you install it? All you need to do is copy (or drag and drop) the file to the Plugins   subfolder of the Photoshop folder.
For Windows, your Photoshop software is usually located in C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Photoshop CS2Plugins; Mac OS stores it in LibraryApplicationsAdobe Photoshop CS2Plugins. If however you installed your Photoshop in another location, you should look for the plugins folder there.
The next time you start Photoshop, the new plugins will be available in the Filter menu, waiting for you to experiment on them to create your masterpieces.

Achieving a Dreamy Effect : Photoshop Tutorial

September 19th, 2008 5 Comments

 Photo credit: chylinski

 Have you ever wondered why some photos look ethereal and dreamy, like the swan photo above? It looks like it came straight from a scene in a fairy tale movie—softly lit, perceptive, fluid, vivid, and it touches something inside of you. You stare at the hints of light that gently touch elements on the photograph; you’re trying to convince yourself it’s a dream. But really, it’s not.
It’s just Photoshop.
Take a look at the original photo:

 It’s a good enough photo already, right? Although the story and composition can be improved (notice the badly cut reflection of the swan on the water), it makes a great photo of a swan spending her late afternoon dilly-dallying on the lake. To help you turn “simple” into “surreal,” here’s a tutorial on how to achieve a dreamy effect for your photos.

  1. Open your chosen photo in Photoshop. This effect works best with well-exposed pictures. You may first adjust brightness and contrast, or do any post-processing adjustment you wish to do with your photo.


  1. Create a new layer. From the menu, click Layer, New, and then Layer via Copy. Shortcut: Ctrl + J (Windows)or Cmd + J (Mac).

  1. A new layer labeled Layer 1 will appear on the Layers palette. This contains your foreground image, which is an exact copy of the background. You may rename your foreground layer if you wish to by double-clicking the layer name. In my case, I labeled it as Foreground.

  1. Making sure that the foreground layer is highlighted in the Layers palette, pull down the Filters menu and select Blur, then Gaussian Blur.


  1. On the Gaussian Blur dialog box, indicate the radius of the blur you wish to apply on your photo. The ideal scale value is when your photo is blurred enough to hide the details, but you should still be able to recognize the image behind it. Start with 5.0 and adjust from there. In the swan photo, I selected a value of 5.0 pixels.

  1. With the foreground layer still selected in the Layers palette, select the blending mode called Multiply. In this step, watch as your photo instantly turns into something new!

  1. From an ugly duckling to a glamorous swan, your photo has entered the world of dreams
This could already be the final image. However, depending on how heavily you want to apply the effect, you may change the blending opacity. By default, it is set at 100%. Move the opacity scale in the Layers palette to a lower value and see what you like best.


  1. Pull down the Layer menu and choose Flatten the Image. This will merge the two layers so that you have just one image.
  1. Finally, click File, save the image as JPEG and you’re done.









Quick Tips – Part 1 – Remove cluttered backgrounds

January 22nd, 2008 No Comments

In the heat of the photographic moment, it can be very easy to focus only on the subject of the shot and ignore what’s happening in the background. It’s only when we download the images onto our computer, or get them developed, that we realise that we also managed to capture a whole array of distracting clutter.

In the first of our quick tips – we’ll be showing you how to achieve some retrospective simplicity with the aid of some not-so-difficult Adobe Photoshop tips. The basic principles would apply to all photo editing programs.

Step 1: Crop the background

Cropping out as much of the background as possible is a simple easy, short-cut. Just make sure that you don’t detract from some of the basic rules of composition and symmetry.

For our test picture we are going to use an image from a press conference announcing the "Crowded House" Reunion. We are going to attempt to edit the photo to focus it far more tightly on the gentlemen in the Hawaiin shirt.

 As usual, we used our marquee to make the initial selection – and then selected Edit – Crop.

Step 2: Select your subject

To blur our background – we want to use the lasoo tool from our toolbox to very roughly select around our subject. Make sure that you leave a little bit of space around his body (as per the image below)

We want to eliminate some of the extraneous space by feathering our edge. In Photoshop goto Select – Feather. The value will differ depending on the final size of our image. You want to choose a number of pixels that brings the marquee selection closer into your subject without crossing over any of their edges.

Invert your selection by going – Select – Invert.

Step 2: Blur the background

To blur our background we are going to use the Gaussian blur tool. Goto – Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur. Choose a value that blurs the background without totally eliminating our perception of the subjects. If you have the preview button ticked you can keep trying until you get something that works perfectly. For our test image we only needed to use a very small value.

If you were a little bit messy, you may need to touch up the blurred background manually.

Use the blur tool from your tool-box, choose a small brush size and touch up any edges around the body of the subject that were not blurred by your initial pass. If you treat it like a standard paint-brush, the task should not be too difficult.

 Step 4: Saturate/Desaturate

In the final stage we want to desaturate the background slightly to further increase the emphasis on the main subject. Select your sponge tool and set it to desaturate 15%, then brush over the majority of the background.

 After desaturating the background, change the sponge tool to saturate and set it at a smaller value (7-8%) Paint over the subject to slightly bring out the colour.

The final effect should be subtle – but should help the subject of your image – just pop a little out of the background.

You can see our attempt below and compare it to the original image. There are other methods that may produce more effective results – but the advantage of this method is that it’s fast, effective and easy!


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