Best Adobe Plugin 2016: plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom

From painting to design to photography, here are the best Adobe plugins for applications such as Photoshop and Lightroom to help make your work better and easier.

There are huge amounts of plugins out there to help filter and adjust your photos, digital art and painting, but finding quality and efficient software is the key to making sure you can work efficiently with a simple workflow.

This list of best Adobe plugins can be used with both Windows PCs and Macs, and within various Adobe program depending on the plugin, but all work within Photoshop. Most plugins featured are photo editors, but we’ve included some aimed at digital art, painting and searching for stock images within Adobe software.

For more Photoshop photo tutorials, we’ve put together 18 best photographers tips on Photoshop editing techniques

Some plugins are free, such as the Google Nik Collection, others come at reasonable price, such as the DxO FilmPack 5 Essential Edition for £59, and others are pricier, like the Topaz Photography Collection at £385. 

The best part is, almost all the plugins we’ve chosen come with a free trial, so you can choose the one that best suits you before having to fork out any money.

Check out our list of best Adobe plugins to find what will suit you.

Best Adobe plugin for digital art: Filter Forge

Supports: Photoshop CS2-CC2015.5, Photoshop Elements 2.0–14
Price: £76/US$99

This plugin allows you to build your own filters, giving you access to more than 11800 textures and effects, with 64-bit support for both Windows and Mac.

Filter Forge lets you create visual effects, seamless tiling, bump maps and watercolour.

The newest version, Filter Forge 5, performs faster than the previous version, protections to its randomisation settings and stronger pixel awareness.

More info/Buy: from Filter Forge

Best Adobe plugin for painting: Corel ParticleShop

Supports: Photoshop CS5-CC2015.5, Lightroom 5-CC2015, Photoshop Elements 13
Price: £39.95/US$49.99. Extra brush packs £24.95/$29.99

This plugin lets you use some of Corel Painter's incredible brush technology within Adobe Photoshop.

It offers 11 different brushes that are easy to use with a pressure sensitive tablet, touchscreen or mouse, allowing you to enhance photos, designs and illustrations. They are designed to give different effects such as Debris, Fabric, Fine Art, Fur, Hair, Light, Space, Smoke and Storm.

More info/Buy: from Corel

Check out Tom Bagshaw’s review of Corel Painter 2017.

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Best Adobe plugin for photography:  Alien Skin Exposure X2

Supports: Photoshop CS6-CC2015.5, Lightroom 6-CC2015, Photoshop Elements 13
Price: £39.95/US$49.99. Extra brush packs £24.95/$29.99

Exposure X2 by Alien Skin software is a photo editor and organiser used by many industry photographers, designed to make workflow simpler.

The programme has a range of presets to apply to your images, and allows you to make adjustments such as sharpening, colour toning and exposure. You can also retouch using the spot heal and brush tool, and use advanced tools like bokeh, overlays, grain and vignettes. 

It also handles large file and supports a range of file types and mirrorless cameras and lenses.

More info/Buy: from Alien Skin

Best Adobe plugin with free filters: Auto FX Mystical Ultimate Bundle Gen2 

Supports: Photoshop CS-CC2015.5, Lightroom 5-CC2015, Photoshop Elements 8-13
Price: £307/US$399

Mystical Ultimate Bundle Gen2 by Auto FX provides a bundle of products that work to help with postproduction digital photo enhancement. 

It includes over 100 filters, colour toning, focal effects and lighting, allowing you to layer as much as you want and giving you control over blending and effect stacking.

More info/Buy: from Auto FX

Also, Check out the 10 free Photoshop plugins and filters available by Auto FX. Another option is to buy one of the Mystical Bundle Gen2 modules separately for a smaller price of £27.77 or US$35.99. Each module selectively tailors to your enhancement needs, such as black and white FX, colour photo FX, photo tonal FX and more.

Best Adobe plugin for film effects: DxO FilmPack 5

Supports: Photoshop CS3-CC2015.5, Lightroom 3-CC2015, Photoshop Elements 9-13
Price: £59/US$76. Elite version £99/$128

This plugin gives access to more than 80 analogue films, and combines many original renderings with filter, vignetting, blur, texture, frame or light leak effects.

DxO FilmPack 5 includes over 120 styles, black and white conversion, support for RAW, JPEG and TIFF formats and designer presets.

More info/Buy: from DxO

Read our review on the DxO One camera.

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Best free Adobe plugins: Google Nik Collection

Supports: Photoshop CS3-CC2015.5, Lightroom 3-CC2015, Photoshop Elements 9-13
Price: Free

The highly popular Google Nik Collection offers ample choice of photo editing between six different plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture.

Pick your choice of Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HRD Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine.

These plugins help to give your photos a classic camera film and lens look, colour correction, retouching and creative effects, black and white photography, adjustments to colour and tonality, HDR and sharpening, as well as improving noise reduction to your images.

And as of March, the team announced the Nik Collection desktop suite is available for free to download for anyone to use.

More info/Download: from Google

Best Adobe plugin with free filters: On1 Photo 10.5

Supports: Photoshop CS6-CC2015.5, Lightroom 5-CC2015, Photoshop Elements 13-14
Price: £84/US$109.99. One1 Plus Pro, £115/US$149.99

On1 Photo 10.5 is a full-featured photo editor that works as a plugin to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, or works as a standalone.

Photo 10.5 lets you enhance colour and detail, add effects, but what sets this plugin apart is the option to blend backgrounds and layers from different photos easily, and hone on in retouching portrait facial features.

It includes hundreds of presets, borders and textures and 23 stackable filters and boasts to work efficiently when sorting through hundreds of photos from a shoot which quick importing, sorting, and the ability to sync your photos between ON1 Browse and Photo Via.

The On1 Plus Pro bundle adds person coaching, video tutorials and a private forum.

More info/Buy: from On1

On1 also offers the Effects 10 Free bundle, which offers a limited number of tools at no cost. Download it here.

Best Adobe plugins for photography: Topaz Labs

Supports: Photoshop CS6-CC2015.5, Lightroom 5-CC2015, Photoshop Elements 13-14
Price: £385/US$499.99

The Topaz Photography Collection includes 17 different photo effects that can be bought separately or as one bundle. 

Give your photos dramatic contrast with vivid colours or create a natural smoothness, clarity, and tack-sharp detail with Topaz’s range of photographic effects, or restyle with star and texture effects.

Purchasing an effect individually ranges from US$29.99 (£23) to $79.99/£61, and the full bundle will cost you $499.99 (£385).

More info/Buy: from TopazLabs

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Best Adobe plugin for stock photos in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign: Getty Images

Supports: Photoshop CC2014-CC2015.5
Price: Free

Getty Images has just launched a free plugin for Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, meaning you can search and filter images directly within Creative Cloud, and design using Getty Images hi-res comps and automatically carry over edits when going from comp to the final version.

Integration includes Getty Images, Premium Access, Easy Access and UltraPacks accounts.

More info/Download: from Getty

Best Adobe plugin for stock photos: Shutterstock 

Supports: Photoshop CC2014-CC2015.5
Price: Free

Get inspired through access to the entire Shutterstock collection without leaving Adobe Photoshop with this free plugin - available to both Mac and Windows users.

You can purchase and preview stock images and edit any watermarked image for free. If you license the image the edits with be automatically reapplied when you purchase.

Keep track of recent activity by seeing what pictures you’ve previewed and purchased with existing light boxes.

More info/Download: from Shutterstock