18 of the Best Freeware Photoshop Plugins That Actually Work

18 of the Best Freeware Photoshop Plugins That Actually Work

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One of the best tools for painters is NKS5. This Photoshop extension gives you access to realistic media brushes and is one of the most popular plugins for digital artists.

NKS5 Natural Media Toolkit

This is a must-try for all painters out there! This plugin gives you a panel full of different pencils, pens, and markers. You can even simulate a variety of real papers and add preset or evenly spaced guides. Installation is done through Adobe Extension Manager; a new tool to manage all your plugins/extensions. Once installed, go to File/Photoshop > Scripts > NKS5 Install. Then, go to Window > Tool Presets. Uncheck the “Current Tool Only” option. You can begin using the tool now by going to Window > Extensions > NKS5.

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Oilpaint Effect in Pixel Bender

The same oilpaint filter introduced in Photoshop CS6 is available for you if you have Photoshop CS5. This is the same thing and you can install it using the Pixel Bender plugin.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers have access to a great number of Photoshop plugins. There are several great layout plugins and way too many filter effects (mostly cheesy effects). We picked only the best filter effects to include in this list and our favorite is Filter Forge and Sinedots 2.

Mr. Stacks

Creating storyboards or PDFs of your photos but don’t have the time to do it manually? Mr. Stacks is here to save the day! He can turn your PSD into paneled storyboards or PDFs with just a few clicks. Installation is done through Adobe Extension Manager. To access the plugin, go to File > Scripts > Mr. Stacks.

Tych Panel 2

Wedding photographer Lumens Bröllopsfotografi realized the world was missing a good tool for creating diptychs so he went out to created his own Photoshop plug-in. This plug-in lets you lay out photos side-by-side in your own way – and it’s very easy to use! It works with Smart objects and layer masks and has Adobe Bridge integration. Installation is done through Adobe Extension Manager.

Sinedots 2

Looking for a way to create abstract waves? Sinedots 2 uses simple sinus calculations to create them. Experiment with this plug-in and see what kind of abstract waves you can get! To install, copy the 8BF file to your Photoshp\Plug-ins\Filters folder. This filter is only available for Windows and the 32-bit version of Photoshop. For beginners, set your background color to black before running the filter. You can find the filter in Filter > DragonFly > Sinedots 2. The interface is quite technical and I have no idea what I’m doing, but I just keep clicking the randomize button until I get something that I like. The only problem is that I can’t seem to change the color but that can be done later with the Hue/Saturation tool.

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Filter Forge

Filter Forge Freepacks

Filter Forge has many free filters effects that are highly customizable. They have freepacks that lets you create metal, vintage photo effects, picture frames, and more. You can even make the filters seamless! My favorite is their Photo Effects freepack which contains many great photo effects that are highly customizable. On high-res photos, I frequently get an error message but everything seems to be working fine when I close it – not sure what’s going on there. Some of the more complicated filters can take a few minutes to run.

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Stereogram Lab Filter

Remember those stereogram pictures you used to look at when you were a kid? This plugin will turn your photos into stereograms automatically. It’s also a useful tool to create seamless photo textures! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test this plugin because it only works in the 32-bit version of Windows.

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32 comments on “18 of the Best Freeware Photoshop Plugins That Actually Work”

  1. Have been searching for a couple months now and I'm trying to find how a good Windows freeware program to create and save a plug-in and make the extension 8bf

  2. I'll right away grab your rss as I can not find your
    email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you've any?
    Please let me know in order that I could subscribe.

    1. If you stay on the site long enough looking around it will give you the option to sign up.

  3. I used to be suggested this website by means of my cousin. I'm
    not certain whether or not this submit is written via him as nobody else recognize such particular
    about my trouble. You're wonderful! Thank you!

  4. Two outstanding free plugins, especially for painters:
    – Deep Paint 2D (includes a standalone);
    – Impressionist (from Microsoft?!?).

    Google it.

    Tested on all Win32 versions, CS2 --> CS6.

  5. Since it was said that I could give a freeware plug in one that I know of is Colorus the colorwheel

  6. Appreciate your efforts but most of these look so dated or tacky. The good ones are not free, but you get what you pay for.

    1. Agreed. Most are tacky and not worth looking at. ReFocus appears to pretty interesting... deblurring at its finest. Just hope it's not just another "sharpening" plugin.

    1. We tried that one but couldn't recommend it because the preview window didn't let you zoom in/out or pan around. It was stuck at 100% zoom which meant that you can't see the preview if you were working on a high-res photo.

    1. Thanks for the links! We didn't bump into Russel Brown's scripts but they look useful. MEHDI has a lot of great filter plugins too

    1. How did you install Kaleidoscope so that it works in
      CS6? I put it the plug-ins folder and also tried using the preferences>plugins to create a different folder and put it in there and pointed the plugin to c:\plugs. Nothing seemed to work.

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