virtualPhotographer is a good time-saving mechanism for designers and photographers are not yet fully confident about using Photoshop to stylize their images. Published by optikVerve Labs and available for free, it is a great way to achieve very sophisticated looks in photos. Its big advantage is that results can be seen in just minutes, saving much of the time you'd normally spend editing manually. You can adjust film color, grain, soft focus, high contrast and many other effects, and the layout of each of these functions is easily navigable.
2. Pixel Dropr
Pixel Dropr, which starts at $19, is extremely useful for those involved in graphic design or Web design. Developed by UI Parade, it allows users to create their own 100-piece groups of buttons, icons, UI kits or photographs and input them into a Photoshop document while simultaneously working on the image itself. Designers often work across many different projects at the same time, and Pixel Dropr makes this process more efficient.
For designers who need to download free icons, Flaticon does just that. This resource is the largest available database of free vector icons at present, enabling users to download any of the thousands of icons available in .psd, .png or .svg formats. The free plugin offers nearly 70,000 icons and, perhaps most beneficial, allows designers to boost their productivity from not having to look for the icon they need online: They can work without leaving Photoshop, Illustrator or After Effects.
This plugin from publisher Imagenomic is a $199.95 investment, but it is well worth the price for portrait photographers. It is a combined plugin for Lightroom, Photoshop and Aperture that completely automates the process of retouching portraits to create the look of perfect skin. Although the program automatically smooths skin tones while getting rid of any obvious blemishes, it does not accidentally remove other important detail, so images can maintain their authenticity.
5. ToonIt! Photo
ToonIt! Photo, from publisher Digital Anarchy, is available for $129, but there is a free trial available for those looking to demo the action before they buy. This plugin is quite useful for designers since it can immediately turn a photograph into a cartoon-style image. It's invaluable for use in graphic novels or magazines, wherein designers may not want to specifically commission an animated drawing but also don't want to base an illustration on an original image. There is an opportunity to tweak the final image, as well.
Photoshop from Adobe is a hugely useful tool for designers worldwide. But the best Photoshop plugins can maximize the potential of Photoshop even further, helping to save time and enhance the work of designers in every project on their screen.