Below is our list of five amazing must-have Photoshop plugins for artists. We realize that the word “artists” covers a huge variety of styles and objectives. This list is aimed at creative artists, but probably not graphic artists, or even artists who primarily paint their work. (Don’t worry, we’ll create more lists!)
This list will be of special interest to creatives who manipulate images to create entirely new artwork. So, if you’re into making composites or artistic artwork, then this list of Photoshop plugins is for you!
1. ParticleShop: Creative brush playground
ParticleShop is an outstanding brush tool that’ll unleash your creativity in a big way! Actually, “tool” doesn’t really describe it. This thing is way too much fun for that. So, let’s call it a fun creativity toy instead!
ParticleShop lets you get super creative and you’ll be creating amazing effects in your artwork that are virtually impossible to replicate without a Photoshop plugin or action. You simply won’t find comparable brushes anywhere else.
Unlike many other Photoshop plugins for artists, ParticleShop doesn’t do all the work for you with presets and one-click options. Playing with these brushes is all about being creative in your own unique way!
The brushes are organized into sets, and when you first purchase ParticleShop you’ll get a great first set. They often include extra sets at a discount, so if you see that, jump on it! You won’t regret it.
If you’re looking for something completely different to experiment with, Particle Shop is definitely for you.
Read our full review of ParticleShop
2. BrushBox: The Photoshop plugin for artists to organize your brushes
This independently produced plugin is considered by many to be the go-to solution for organizing and managing your brushes. And we agree! As far as we have found, this is the best Photoshop brush manager for artists.
BrushBox allows you to organize your brushes (and other presets) into a unique panel. Here you can organaze all your brushes into folders. Best of all, you can color code your folders, and even individual brushes. This makes it super easy to find specific brushes whenever you need them.
Oh, and you can also add individual brushes to your “Favorites” and you’ll see a star on them. Favorites can be found quickly by simply by filtering for them.
The BrushBox interface allows you to view your brushes in multiple modes. Below are two of them: Icon view and stroke preview.
We highly recommend this plugin for Photoshop artists with lots of brushes!
Read our full review of BrushBox
3. Camera Raw Filter: The best Photoshop plugin for artists!
That’s right, Camera Raw is super powerful and you already have it with your Photoshop CC subscription! Although it’s not technically a plugin, it might as well be considering how amazing it is as a stand-alone interface and abilities.
Camera Raw is a real powerhouse with a ton of settings and effects. Sure, you can adjust all the essential settings like contrast, exposure, saturation etc., but there’s so much more to explore!
Where it really shines is with its ability to manipulate colors!
Camera Raw Color Mixer and Split Toning
First, you’ll find an epic Color Mixer that gives you massive options related to the colors in your image. You can make adjustments in either Hue, Saturation and Luminosity, each with an amazing eight color channels!
Camera Raw Filter also offers an impressive split-toning menu where you can adjust highlights and shadows with hue/saturation sliders.
And, if you don’t feel like making manual adjustments, you’ll find a set of really cool Color Profiles that completely transforms your image with pre-set colors and contrast. This option alone puts it squarely on the list of Photoshop plugins for artists!
Have a look for yourself! Open Photoshop > Filter > Camera Raw Filter…
Add 100 Color Profiles to Camera Raw – FREE Download!
Grab this bundle of 100 amazing Color Profiles, perfect for instantly transforming the colors in your artwork!
You’ll find amazing Full Color and B&W Profiles in this totally free collection. Access them right inside Camera Raw!
Click the button to start your download!
4. Pexels Photoshop Plugin for Artists: Stock image search
This Photoshop plugin is an excellent addition to your setup if you use a lot of free stock images in your work.
You can search for stock images right inside Photoshop, and then insert images right into your PSD file!
The Pexels Photoshop plugin is super easy to use. Just open up the interface and search for your desired topic. You’ll see a list of thumbnails that you can scroll through to find and download the perfect image for your project.
Each thumbnail has three options. Firstly, you can select “Click to insert” and the image will be downloaded and loaded into your document. You can also open any given image on pexels.com which will give you details about the image, like the photographer’s name and related images. And finally, you can “like” images which will place them under your favorites so you can insert it a later time.
Not bad for a FREE Photoshop plugin for artists!
Read our full review of Pexels Photoshop Plugin
5. Topaz Studio 2: Excellent all-rounder with artistic effects
Topaz Studio 2 is a premium Photoshop plugin offering a huge range of effects. You can make basic adjustments like contrast and brightness, more artistic effects like film grain and vignettes, and most fun of all, wild effects like cartoon and oil paintings.
This Photoshop plugin for artists has two primary settings panels: Filters and Looks.
Filters in Topaz Studio 2
You’ll find an Essentials collection where you can fine-tune precision contrast, color tuning, sharpening, dehaze, brightness contrast and much more.
You’ll also enjoy a lineup of Creative filters, including dual tone, color theme, vignette and much more. This set of filters are great if you want to make create artistic effects for your images. This set of filters will appeal not only to creative artists, but also photographers want to create more artistic renditions of their photos.
Looks in Studio 2
Studio 2 has another set of adjustments called Looks. These looks are essentially a preset stack of filters that result in really creative and sometimes amazing effects!
This plugin includes dozens of Looks included to get you started right away. A really cool feature is that you can save your own custom Looks to use in the future!
Read our full review of Topaz Studio 2
Photoshop plugins for artists: the end of the list…?
This concludes our list of our five favorite Photoshop plugins for creative artists! Hopefully you found something useful here.
As we continue to review plugins we will update this list as needed. Most likely we’ll expand the list well beyond five!
If you have a plugin you love, and you think it belongs on the list, please let us know below!
Dawn Thurston says
Luminar 4 should be added to your list.
Thanks for the suggestion! Luminar 4 is on our short list for upcoming reviews and we’ll definitely consider it for this list.
Andrei Tallent says
We finally reviewed Luminar 4 and will be adding it to this list shortly!
Great Plug-ins! I also love Nik filters, but use Topaz all the time!
Thank you for doing this list!
Glad you found it useful! We’ll definitely be reviewing all the Nik plugins and remaining Topaz plugins.
Hi Andrei, I am very surprised you don’t mention Flamepainter. you have much more flexibility in creating your own brushes than with particleshop
Flame Painter will be reviewed shortly and we’ll definitely consider it for the list!
Argus Preset Viewer from Tumasoft is a great plugin for showing a preview of brushes etc before loading them into Photoshop
Andrei Tallent says
Thanks for the suggestion! I had never heard of this one before, but it looks like a great little tool, especially if you have a ton of new brushes that you don’t want to load into Photoshop! I’ll have a closer look and write something up.