Although Adobe has constantly been enhancing Photoshop with some magical new tools and commands, there are a lot of pretty awesome third party plugins that can do some serious stuff that you still can’t achieve with Photoshop itself. Most of these plugins are commercial, but fortunately some of them are absolutely free.
Take a look at this list of excellent free Photoshop plugins that will let you achieve some cool special effects and image enhancement.
This free version of PhotoFrame 4.6 will let you add outstanding frames and backgrounds to your photos. No watermarks are inserted in your photos and the plugin doesn’t expire. Download MAC and WIN
This free version of PhotoTools will let you add 26 professional effects to your photos. You can even combine these effects to create your own look. No watermarks are inserted in your photos and the plugin doesn’t expire. Download MAC and WIN
FilterForge Freepacks are sets of outstanding free standalone texture and effects plugins. These sets don’t have any watermark or time limitation. Download for both Mac and Win. Download MAC and WIN
Mosaic makes your photos look as if they were created out of a mosaic tile. Photo-realistic depth and variable tile size and color options give this effect an infinite number of looks. Download MAC and WIN
Dreamy Photo gives images a soft romantic feel. This is a superb effect for enhancing stock photography, digital camera photos and any image you want to add a warm feel to. Download MAC and WIN
Three absolutely amazing plugins that run under Pixel Bender Photoshop Plugin. Create out of this world 3d fractals with 3D Mandelbulb Ray Tracer. Fractal Explorer will let you create beautiful Mandelbrot and Julia fractals with your own images. Escher’s Droste Effect lets you transform your image into an endless spiral. These plugins require that you install Pixel Bender (MAC / WIN) first.
Eight natural particle effects for images and selections – smoke, fire, bubbles, clouds, rain and more. Download WINDOWS only (Photoshop version not mentioned).
Explore the possibilities of digital tie-dye by creating multi-color patterns swirls and backgrounds. Download WINDOWS only (Photoshop version not mentioned).
Take any image or selection and warp, distort, and twist it into surreal patterns. Download WINDOWS only (Photoshop version not mentioned).
The Digital Artshop’s Iridescent filter will apply a pearl like effect to your image. The effect is fully controllable with sliders for the amount of reflections, color strength, smoothing and a detail enhancer. Download WINDOWS only (read Photoshop version compatibility before downloading)
This plugin uses some simple sinus calculations to generate nice patterns. This plugin page was last updated in year 2011, no mention of compatibility with current Photoshop versions, but the output of this plugin is worth trying! Download WINDOWS only.
A plugin that creates beams of volumetric light. Download WINDOWS only
Water Ripples is a freeware Adobe Photoshop compatible plug-in filter. The highly realistic water ripples effect designer has numerous options as well as an impressive 3D quality. The random settings generator produces unlimited variations of rippled surfaces. Download WINDOWS only
Lattice Composer is a freeware Adobe Photoshop compatible plug-in filter. It effectively designs grids and nettings. It produces a variety of weave patterns, fabric textures, body art tattoos and skeleton simulations. The 3D text effects are extraordinary. Download WINDOWS only
Jama 3D is a freeware Photoshop compatible plug-in filter. It’s the simplest way to create corrugated and cellular like patterns from 2D images. You can easily make various bricks and herring bone textures. Sequenced filtering produces bizarre unreal deformations of the original picture, crumpled paper effect, etc. Using different 2D shapes on a transparent layer produces complicated 3D border effects. The edge antialiasing option improves the dithering.The filter is extremely compact and accessible. Download WINDOWS only
Stereogram Lab Filter is a stereogram maker plug-in, which allows to generate Hidden Image Stereograms right in your Photoshop, which is quite convenient. This filter is free and you can use it both for commercial and non-commercial purposes, however, distributing the filter itself is not allowed. Download WINDOWS only