Photoshop has many built-in filters but if you need more, say 9000+ more, then you might be interested in Filter Forge. Filter forge is a Photoshop plug-in and standalone program with 9000+ filters and an editor to create your own filters. You can generate seamless 2D/3D textures and apply photo effects.
9000+ Community Built Filters
If you want the most filters in the world, Filter Forge will please you. Their website gives you access to 9000+ filters but most of them are very specific and there are many variations of similar effects. I didn’t like the idea of browsing a website to download filters because the first thing that comes to mind is the hassle of saving/loading the filters. Thankfully, it’s nothing like that. You still need to browse the website for the filters but the filters load automatically into Filter Forge when you click the open link.
Filters load straight into Filter Forge
Here’s an example of a filter that converts your photo into a watercolor painting. It’s one of the more basic examples of what you can do with Filter Forge but their gallery page has some amazing examples of what other people have created by combining multiple filters.
Create Your Own Filters
Want to create your own filters without any coding experience? You can do that using the easy-to-use drag-&-drop editor. This editor is only in the standard and professional edition and it’s worth the upgrade if you’re willing to put some effort into learning how to use the Filter Editor. The editor gives you a wealth of components you can mix and match to create your own filters.
Here’s an example of a simple filter created in Filter Forge. It uses the Tiles component in Filter Forge to pixelate the photo with circles and creating it only took a few minutes. Once you’re done creating the filter, you can save it and publish it on the Filter Forge website for others to use. Depending on how popular your filter is, you may be rewarded with a free copy of Filter Forge.
Here’s what the filter looks like:
There is a considerable learning curve with the editor but if you start from simple filters and work your way to creating more complicated ones, you’ll be able to create filters just as advanced as the ones you see on the website. I’ve been using Filter Forge for almost a year and over time you get better at creating filters. When I first started, I stuck with simple ones like the ones above. Over time, you will learn how to create more advance filters and how to optimize them so that they are efficient and render quicker. Here’s a grunge bokeh wallpaper filter that I made. Photo effect filters are the easiest to create. For texture filters, the professional version lets you create 3D textures with bump maps and lighting effects.
Filter Forge is an incredibly powerful software and it can be incredibly useful especially if you’re willing to learn how to create your own filters. Although there are 9000+ filters, only 1/10 are what I would consider worth trying but that still leaves you with an insane amount of filters. Some of the effects are geared towards 3D artists who need seamless textures while the others are geared for photographers and designers who want to apply specific photo effects that can’t be done in Photoshop. There are obviously some great artworks and effects that you can create and you should visit their gallery to see some examples.
The amount of filters is great and the interface is intuitive, but we ran into some issues outputting high-res images. We used the professional version which lets us save images larger than 3000×3000 pixels but there were many times when Filter Forge crashed trying output anything larger than 3000 pixels – only the simplest filters worked. This was resolved this by using the Photoshop plugin instead of the standalone program. Also, some filters can take over 10 minutes to render a high-res photo but it depends on the complexity of the filter and your computers speed.
The only thing that is stopping us from highly recommending it is its price tag – at $250 for the standard and $400 for the professional version, it’s a hefty sum for many artists. You can buy a lot of premade Photoshop addons on Creative Market or GraphicRiver for that price but if custom filters is what you need, there’s no better software than Filter Forge. At the date of this review, the plugin is 50% off which makes the price much more in line with what we think people are willing to pay. A new version of Filter Forge 4 is also in the making but you might save money by buying Filter Forge 3 now at half price and preordering the upgrade to Filter Forge 4. Overall, it’s an exceptional software that we think every designer should try out with the 30-day free trial.
- 9000+ texture and effect filters to choose from
- Create your own filters easily without any coding
- Works with Photoshop as a plugin or by itself as a standalone app
- A new version of Filter Forge is coming out and it may be cheaper to buy it now at 50% off and upgrade than to buy the new version at regular price.
- Many filters crash when saving at 3000×3000 pixels or larger using the standalone app. The Photoshop plugin worked fine.
- Complex filters can take a long time to render. All processing is done on the CPU (no GPU rendering).