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15 Useful Photoshop Plugins You Should Not Miss

15 Useful Photoshop Plugins You Should Not Miss

Anybody who is into image editing probably knows their way around Photoshop. Indeed, it is one of the most ubiquitous names in the design industry, especially for those who are graphic artists or otherwise in the business of creating fantastic pieces of art for one reason or another.

I myself have not been a heavy user of Photoshop since CS2. Still, I have kept up with it as it has evolved over the years, and thus am familiar with most of its capabilities. The current version is incredibly powerful, capable of doing more than I could ever imagine when I used it for graphic design purposes in 2006.

That said, there will still be times when the vanilla version of Photoshop won’t do exactly what you need it to do. This is where plugins come in. Plugins are, for those unacquainted, essentially small bits of additional software that add to Photoshop’s functionality.

Here are fifteen that should be particularly useful in almost any project.

1. CSS Hat ($34.99)

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    CSS Hat is, to put it succinctly, the web designer’s dream. What it allows you to do is take one of your layers, and transform it into CSS3 code. This basically means you can copy your designs from Photoshop and paste them into your website.

    2. Flaticon (free)

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      If you need to insert some sort of vector-based icon into your designs, Flaticon is for you. It is essentially a database of free-to-use icons, which you can access in Photoshop by downloading the plugin.

      3. Pixel Dropr ($19)

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        Pixel Dropr is great if you are working on a project that requires the use of many of the same assets. So, for instance, if you are working on five separate projects in Photoshop, you can use Pixel Dropr to transfer up to 100 “icons, buttons, UI kits, or photos” from one project to another. As you might imagine, this saves a lot of time in the long run.

        4. Silver EFEX Pro 2 (free trial)

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          Silver EFEX Pro 2 is great if you want a simple, non-time consuming way to create beautiful black and white images. It’s like an advanced version of a filter you might find on Instagram. As such, it comes packed with a number of advanced controls that experts can use to get the best black and white images possible.

          5. Fractlius ($39.90)

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            Fractalius is a plugin that allows you to easily create interesting works of art out of normal everyday images. What it does is extract the “hidden fractal texture” within a picture, allowing you to reveal certain eccentricities that weren’t visible before.

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            6. Exposure 7 (free trial)

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              Exposure 7 is a straightforward plugin with a single purpose: to make digital images appear as though they were originally captured in an analog manner. As such, you have several options to add film-esque effects, such as scratches, grain, and other finishes.

              7. Machine Wash Deluxe ($99)

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                Machine Wash Deluxe accomplishes a simple task: it takes your clean designs and applies a kind of weathering effect, giving it a more aged and worn-in look. It works best when used with basic typography, but can also be applied to more complicated works of art as well.

                8. Blow Up 3 (free trial)

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                  Ever find an image you want to use but discover that it’s too low of a resolution, causing weird graphical artifacts to show up when you try to enlarge it? Blow Up 3 tries to solve that problem by making it so that images maintain their graphical integrity as you enlarge them.

                  9. Noiseware ($79.95)

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                    Noiseware is a powerful tool used to clean images that are contaminated by an unusual amount of “noise,” which are basically elements within an image that reduce its clarity. This plugin lets you remove these, giving you a sharper final product.

                    10. Portraiture ($199.95)

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                      Portraiture is a plugin that’s targeted towards smoothing skin. What makes it special is that it is able to remove blemishes like acne scars without tampering with details like skin texture and hair. The end result is that you get a much more realistic image than if you tried to manually remove acne with something like the clone-stamp tool.

                      11. Cut & Slice Me (free)

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                        Despite its lighthearted name, Cut & Slice Me is quite useful for those of you who need a free and easy way to transfer your Photoshop designs to your website. As its name suggests, you can direct the plugin to cut out layers of your design, and export those assets to wherever you need them online.

                        12. GuideGuide (free)

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                          GuideGuide is a free plugin that allows you to create an Excel-like grid in Photoshop, making it easy to design web layouts. What it really does is ensure that your creations are mathematically proportional.

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                          13. CSS3PS (free)

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                            CSS3PS uses cloud computing to take your layers and turn them into segments of CSS3 code. This means you can easily transfer certain works, as well as any effects you may have applied to them (like drop-shadows), to your website. This tool is far easier to use than the export tool included in Photoshop, and, best of all, it is free.

                            14. Wire Worm (free)

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                              Wire Worm accomplishes the the incredibly useful task of removing distracting telephone cables from your pictures. Thus, it makes it much easier to appreciate whatever it is you captured on film without having to deal with a jungle of wires obscuring your vision.

                              15. SuperPNG (free)

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                                SuperPNG makes up for one of Photoshop’s deficiencies, which is that it has a hard time processing PNGs in a timely fashion. This plugin allows you to manage your PNG images in a more hands-on manner, allowing you to edit them so that they are rendered by Photoshop much more rapidly.

                                Are you a heavy Photoshop user? Did these plugins help you accomplish tasks in a more effective manner? Let me know in the comments!

                                Featured photo credit: Using Photoshop To Remove Acne/ Bark via flickr.com

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                                Last Updated on February 15, 2019

                                7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

                                7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

                                Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

                                Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

                                Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

                                So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

                                Joe’s Goals

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                                  Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

                                  Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

                                  Daytum

                                    Daytum

                                    is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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                                    Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

                                    Excel or Numbers

                                      If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                                      What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                                      Evernote

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                                        I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                                        Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                                        Access or Bento

                                          If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                                          Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                                          You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                                          Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                                          All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                                          Conclusion

                                          I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                                          What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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