One of the most popular free plug-in suites for Windows users is OptikVerve Labs VirtualPhotographer tinyurl.com/b4e4d6, with millions of users. It includes over 50 presets that automatically apply combinations of film grain, colour correction, black and white, soft focus, high contrast and artistic effects to achieve professional-looking images.
A more à la carte approach is offered by plug-in maker AutoFX, tinyurl.com/d65uyt, which offers two of its Mac and Windows commercial plug-ins — Dreamy Photo and Mosaic — for free.
Dreamy Photo adds a soft, romantic feel, while Mosaic transforms images into a tiled effect. There is a whole category of plug-ins dedicated to delivering visual effects. Harry’s Filters for Windows tinyurl.com/d65uyt is a set that includes 69 filter effects covering zoom, glass, old film and 70s pop styles.
Cybia has seven fantastic free effects plug-ins up for grabs tinyurl.com/ckzbda in the form of its Fotomatic collection. Highlights include NightScope for simulating night-vision effects, Techni-X for high-contrast effects suitable for illustration work, and HighSpot for powerful black and white colour conversion.
Commercial plug-in maker Flaming Pear tinyurl.com/b8j86x has an array of free high-quality plug-ins for Mac and Windows, including warp, tile, colour conversion and Solidify that fills gaps with the nearest colour.
Design studio Richard Rosenman has 24 Photoshop plug-ins, available free for Windows tinyurl.com/gnh7s including 3D spheregeneration, scanlines, and lens effects. Filter Forge has a collection of three plug-in suits for Windows users, including seven metal effects filters, seven photo effects, and seven filters to create different photo frames tinyurl.com/b7nwcv — Mac versions are planned for the future, according to the site.
Free plug-ins also surface in unexpected places, including on Polaroid’s website. It has a free Mac and Windows dust- and scratch-removal plug-in for Photoshop tinyurl.com/5qms.
Finally, a collection of 41 plug-ins for Windows from Xero Graphics in the UK tinyurl.com/abckr4 includes such gems as Porcelain, Moonlight, Skycleaner and Sparkles.
AutoFX’s free Dreamy Photo plug-in in action. The top image is before the plug-in effect was applied.
Free Photoshop PSD files
If your creative project needs a jumpstart or if you’re looking for a way to showcase your designs in a real-world context, then you could do worse than head online and hunt down some of the thousands of free layered PSD files available.
Deviant Art is a hotbed of free layered PSD files to download — but be sure to read any licence requirements beforehand, and credit the original artist. Highlights from the online community’s offering of free templates include a fantastic skateboard tinyurl.com/6e3jpa and cassette tape tinyurl.com/3p6vwk as shown below, as well as a great T-shirt tinyurl.com/ap4bw2.