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Ever wanted to cartoonize a photo, but wasn’t sure how? Or maybe you just don’t have the time to sit down and work it out! That’s fair enough – to create an authentic and professional-looking cartoon effect on a real-life photo can be tricky, even if you’re well versed in Photoshop and all its settings!
Thankfully, there’s a range of purpose-built Photoshop cartoon plugins out there that can not only help you cartoonize a photo, but will do it all for you in a matter of seconds! It really can be that simple – and to make things even easier, we’ve found a selection of the best Photoshop cartoon actions and plugins out there, including both premium and free options.
Let’s have a look at the best Photoshop actions to help you cartoonize a photo.
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Cartoonize Photoshop Cartoon Action
Next up in our Photoshop cartooning toolkit is the Cartoonize action, a Photoshop cartoon plugin that will turn your photo into a digital piece of art with a realistic oil paint effect in only a single click. It works with Adobe Photoshop versions CS3 and above and is super fast and easy to use.
Paint Cartoon Photoshop Action
For another ultra-realistic and modern-looking paint effect that will help you cartoonize any photo, this fun cartoon filter for Photoshop promises high-quality results using versions CS3 and higher and includes full supporting documentation to get you editing straight away.
Smudge Cartoon Photoshop Action
The Smudge Photoshop cartoon plugin will help you cartoonize a photo with a sleek and realistic painted effect that features sharp edges and vibrant colors and is compatible with Photoshop versions CS3 and above. It’s a great choice if you’re after a fun and professional cartoon painting look.
Photoshop Cs6 Camera Raw Plugin Download
Toon-Me – Cartoon Effects Photoshop Action
Next up is Toon-Me, a Photoshop cartooning plugin perfect for creating unique artworks such as posters, flyers, and social media posts. The Photoshop cartoon action works in all Photoshop languages and is non-destructive helping you to retain 100% of the original pictures.
Retro Comic Book Photoshop Cartoon Action Kit
Next, we have a retro-inspired action kit that allows you to cartoonize a photo in an authentic, hand-drawn comic book style. It works best with images that offer a resolution between 72 and 300 DPI, and all comic elements are vector graphics which enables you to scale and tweak the effects as much as you want.
Oil Vector Art Photoshop Cartoon Action
This cartoon filter for Photoshop adds a vector art look to your images that’s inspired by the texture and color profile of a real-life oil painting, and can be applied with amazing results in just a few clicks. You can create up to 40 different color effects, and adjust each layer to your preference.
Balaclava – Photoshop Cartoon Plugin
Balaclava is a Photoshop cartoon plugin containing tools and techniques that help you achieve the most modern, professional, and eye-catching cartoon effects in just a few clicks. The cartoon effect Photoshop Action offers 4 editable Photoshop cartooning styles, 5 face styles, 8 backgrounds, and more than 20 color variations.
Anime – Photoshop Cartooning Action
Our next Photoshop cartoon plugin helps you transform your pictures into modern, creative, and stunning anime-style paintings that are sure to make an impression. It offers fully editable layers, colors, and other elements, plus a video tutorial to help you make the most of the cartoon effect Photoshop action.
Simple Cartoon Photoshop Action
If you’re wanting to cartoonize a photo in a simple yet authentic-looking way, our next cartoon effect Photoshop action will help you do just that – it works with Photoshop CC to give your images a beautifully painted effect in just a single click!
Cell Shader Photoshop Cartoon Action
Our next cartoon effect for Photoshop is the funky Cell Shader action, which adds an artistically contoured element to your images and uses bold lines and edges and realistic brush textures to create a hand-painted look. It comes with a video tutorial and help guide.
Splash Effect Photoshop Cartoon Action
Next up is the Splash Effect bundle of Photoshop actions, featuring five individual filters each with different color scripts, allowing you to create what the designer describes as a “minimal fluid geometry explosion” effect! It works with Photoshop versions CS6 and CC.
Strokes Photoshop Cartoon Action
For an edgy-painted aesthetic, take a look at the Strokes cartoon filter for Photoshop, offering an artistic abstract effect that combines rough paint strokes with a technical hand-drawn style for a unique texture that will add a unique creative vibe to any photo.
Art Vector Photoshop Cartoon Action
Here we have a fun vintage-inspired cartoon effect for Photoshop that will turn your photos into an artistic vector illustration in a single click. It works with RGB color space in any version of Photoshop, and comes with supporting documentation to help you make the most of the technique.
Motion Graphic Photoshop Cartoon Action
The next action in our Photoshop cartooning collection is the Motion Graphic filter which offers a design spread slider control, ten unique color presets, customizable color options, and fully layered and editable graphics. It adds a dynamic, comic-inspired flash effect to your images.
Mafia Paint Photoshop Cartoon Action
Inspired by the iconic Grand Theft Auto video game series, our next Photoshop cartoon plugin features a fun digital watercolor effect with lots of layers that you can play around with to create the perfect style for your project. It works with Photoshop versions CS6 and CC+ in all languages.
Artistic Sketch Photoshop Cartoon Action
Here we have a high-quality cartoon effect bundle that includes a Photoshop action, brush, and texture that you can use separately or combine to create a stunning artistic sketch quality. It offers a non-destructive workflow and fully customizable graphic layers.
Colour Sketch – Cartoon Photoshop Effects
Create a professional colorful effect filled with authentic hatching, technical sketch, and abstract art elements with this highly versatile color sketch action, featuring fully editable layers, colors, and graphic elements for complete creative control over the end result. It even comes with a helpful video tutorial.
MicroPro Oil Photoshop Cartoon Action
Wanting to replicate the style of an authentic oil painting, using your own photo or image? Look no further than the MicroPro Cartoon Oil Photoshop action, which guarantees professional results that are super easy to achieve. Note however that it requires the Photoshop oil paint filter.
Illustration Sketch Photoshop Cartoon Action
Featuring a gouache watercolor paint style combined with fine, detailed pencil sketching, the Illustration Sketch cartoon effect for Photoshop will transform your photos into a beautiful traditional illustration painting. It’s compatible with Photoshop versions CS6 and newer, in any language, and is fully customizable.
Grand Trend Art Photoshop Cartoon Action
Another cartoon filter for Photoshop that’s inspired by the Grand Theft Audio video games, our next action will add a hand-drawn cartoon look to any photo in just a few clicks. It also comes with five frame templates, five collage templates, and fifteen presets for you to mix and match.
Melted Drips – Cartoon Filter Photoshop Action
Experiment with adding cartoon effects to your photos by using this funky creative action that creates melted drops in a range of colors and textures. It’s well layered and fully editable and comes with 25 custom color scripts for you to choose from, plus a video guide to help you use the action.
Urban Sketch Photoshop Cartoon Action
The Urban Sketch Photoshop cartoon effect transforms your city photos into realistic hand-painted watercolor sketch artworks in a matter of minutes. It works best with urban cityscapes and architecture images and provides a fully layered final composition with 15 color presets and loads of customization options.
Grandiose Photoshop Cartoon Action
For another video game-inspired art effect, this time with a more lifelike finish, consider the Grandiose Photoshop action. It comes with a matching poster action, which allows you to combine your masterpieces into a collage in true Grand Theft Auto style, as well as a tutorial for creating authentic GTA text effects.
Free Photoshop Cartooning Plugins
Let’s now look at some free Photoshop actions to help you cartoonize a photo!
Free Comic Poster Photoshop Cartoon Action
The first action in our lineup is this free option from Creative Tacos that adds a subtle vintage comic art style to your image and is best for creating posters and other display prints. It’s compatible with Adobe Photoshop versions CS3 to CC 2017.
Free Photoshop Cartooning Action
To transform your photos into professional cartoonic oil paintings, consider our next free Photoshop Cartoon Action. It offers tools that will help you catroonize a photo in just one click and a video tutorial on how to use the cartoon filter Photoshop Action.
Free EasyComic Photoshop Cartoon Action
Our next option, available from Free Design Resources, features a classic comic book style and comes with a base Photoshop document in portrait and landscape formats to help you create your very own comic strip.
Free Modern Art Cartoon Photoshop Action
Turn your everyday image into a bright and colorful work of modern art with a funky retro-inspired cartoon look, using this amazing modern art-themed Photoshop cartoon action. It’s compatible with Adobe CC, and you can download it for free from Adobe Create!
Free Van Gogh Cartoon Photoshop Action
If you’re looking for the best methods of Photoshop cartooning that will give your images a Van Gogh-inspired effect, consider this set of 10 incredible Photoshop cartoon actions that features a well-organized and structured file for Mac and PC, and is available to download for free from CGI Spread.
Free Toon Artist Photoshop Cartoon Action
Next up, we have the Toon Artist cartoon filter for Photoshop that adds several customizable layers to your image, creating a cartoon portrait that you’ll love sharing! Download this fun Photoshop action for free from the Adobe Create resource hub.
Free Cartoon Effects Photoshop
Here we have is a Photoshop cartoon action that will help you cartoonize a photo with minimal effort. It offers editable layers, non-destructive effects, editable elements, and a smorgasbord of amazing features for you to take advantage of. A great cartoon filter Photoshop action!
And there you have it, a range of brilliant Photoshop actions that will save you countless hours in turning your photos into various types of cartoons – and they’re all available for you to download and use instantly. What more could you want?!
Ready to become a Photoshop power-user? Good, because the Photoshop plugins, add-ons, and extensions we list in this post will supercharge the already impressive capabilities of Adobe’s preeminent software.
Yes, Adobe Photoshop CC is outstanding on its own. But there are plenty of features that users wish they had access to but don't. Plus, there’s no way that Adobe could’ve packed in every add-on, extension, or plugin and still kept the software at its current price point.
Lucky for you, not all of the plugins you’ll read about today cost money!
That’s not to say that you should only look for free plugins. Some of the premium Photoshop plugins we list are so good, you’ll want to buy them immediately — if you’re really serious about upping your Photoshop game, that it. But before we get into the best free and premium Photoshop plugins for 2021, let’s quickly cover how to install Photoshop plugins:
How to Install Photoshop Plugins
Here’s a simple way to install Photoshop plugins:
- Open Photoshop.
- Select Edit from the dropdown menu, and select Preferences > Plugins.
- Check the 'Additional Plugins Folder' box to accept new files.
- Download a plugin or filter to your desktop.
- Open your Program Files folder and select your Photoshop folder.
- Open your Plugins folder, found inside your Photoshop folder.
- Drag your new Photoshop plugin from your desktop into the Plugins folder.
- Reopen Photoshop and find your new plugin under Filters in the dropdown menu.
Now that you know how to use Photoshop plugins, let’s take a look at some of the best free and premium Photoshop plugins available in 2021.
Best Free Photoshop Plugins
As the old saying goes, “the best things in life are free.” Of course, these plugins may not be “the best things in life” (unless Photoshop IS your life), but they’re pretty good and can be used completely free of charge.
1. Camera Raw
Camera Raw is a Photoshop plugin that lets you edit and enhance raw files from your digital camera, along with JPEG and TIFF files. If you’re unfamiliar with a raw file, it’s simply the unprocessed picture data from your digital camera.
With the Adobe Camera Raw plugin, you can sharpen raw pictures, set white balance, and adjust the contrast among many other features.
The best part is, Camera Raw uses non-destructive editing, which means it doesn’t alter the original picture file in case you want to revert back to it after you’ve finished editing. This plugin has been a must-have tool for photographers and should definitely be in your editing toolkit.
Ink is one of the best free Photoshop plugins on this list. It allows designers to create useful mockups and user interfaces, which lets an inexperienced Photoshop user — like a developer, for example — understand the design elements within a coding framework.
In other words, Ink makes it easy to communicate your design by generating full specs such as text formatting, layer styles, and dimensions.
This is especially helpful if you have to hand off work to a developer on GitHub and want to ensure that he or she will accurately interpret your design. Fortunately, this handy app can be accessed and used for the low price of zero dollars!
3. Texture Anarchy
Texture Anarchy is a Photoshop plugin that offers its users a library of different filters and textures to edit their photos with. What sets it apart from similar plugins like ON1 Effects is the fact that the textures it produces are based on fractal noise, which makes it easy to create natural images like fire, smoke, or marble.
If you're new to Photoshop, or photo editing in general, and the above paragraph sounds confusing, don't worry. Texture Anarchy is actually pretty easy to use. It even comes with presets to help you get started on the right foot.
FlatIcon is a Photoshop plugin that will give you access to thousands of free vector icons, which can be downloaded in multiple formats such as SVG or PNG.
With FlatIcon installed, you can search through its database of icons from within Photoshop and insert them directly into your design panel. What kind of icons are we talking about? Just about anything! FlatIcon has millions of icons available for use.
Now, FlatIcon does have thousands of icons available for free. But, they require attribution to use legally. Alternatively, you can sign up for a FlatIcon subscription and get access to many more, attribution-free icons and priority support. FlatIcon plans start at $8.25 a month.
Best Premium Photoshop Plugins
As Warren Buffett once said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
While these premium Photoshop Plugins come with a price tag, they pack a serious punch and provide artists, photographers, and casual Photoshop users alike with tons of value. Here are the six paid plugins that we believe will make the biggest impact on your output and workflow:
1. RH Hover Color Picker
RH Hover Color Picker is a Photoshop color plugin that isn’t ugly or cumbersome (unlike the color picker built into Photoshop) and gives you more control over the colors you pick with its set of customizable sliders.
It’s aptly named the “Hover” Color Picker because it only reveals itself when you hover over its minimized version, and then conceals itself once you’re done using it. Convenient!
RH Hover Color Picker is really easy to use and will speed up your Photoshop workflow dramatically. Luckily, it can be had for just $16. Make the process of picking colors much easier and more enjoyable with this premium plugin.
2. ON1 Effects
ON1 Effects is a Photoshop plugin that gives you access to hundreds of built-in presets, filters, LUTs, textures, and borders. These effects can then be combined, blended, and otherwise customized to create a unique look for each of your photographs.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one tool for adding complex effects to your photos, ON1 Effects is the solution you need. Get it for a one-time payment of $59.99.
3. Fluid Mask 3
Fluid Mask 3 is a Photoshop plugin that can be used to remove backgrounds and perform cutouts — a necessity for most modern photographers and graphic artists.
Masking, i.e. making part of a layer invisible, is a delicate and often difficult process. Fluid Mask 3 is one of the few plugins that will give you a clean and accurate mask, especially with problem areas like hair and fur.
Even though Fluid Mask 3 costs $99, its ability to detect edges, blend layers, and simplify painstaking tasks makes the high price tag worth it. That's why big companies like Disney, NBC, and Macy's use it on a regular basis.
Noiseware is an award-winning Photoshop plugin for noise reduction. Noise is the colorful grains or discoloration found in Photographs that give it a splotchy or blurry look. In simple terms, it's the part of your photographs that you usually don't want.
Noiseware removes graininess from images and sharpens them simultaneously, allowing you to clean up your photos quickly and professionally.
Although it costs $79.95, it justifies its premium price tag with unparalleled targeted noise reduction that few other plugins can even come close to matching.
Have you ever taken a picture of yourself and thought, 'Oh no, is that what I really look like?' Don't be ashamed, it's happened to all of us. The camera can be quite unkind at times. When you're not happy with the results of your latest portrait, get PortraitPro.
PortraitPro is a Photoshop plugin that helps users retouch and edit portraits without giving them a “Photoshopped” finish. It prides itself on being a software built to enhance human beauty without making faces look plastic or fake.
PortraitPro accomplishes this feat by using a slider interface to sculpt and refine a subject’s features. Use this editing tool to smooth skin, apply makeup, correct poor lighting, change hair color, and more.
Whatever aspect of your portraits that you need to adjust, PortraitPro can help you do it for a one-time payment of $89.90.
6. Machine Wash Deluxe
Last, but certainly not least, we have Machine Wash Deluxe, which is a Photoshop plugin that adds scratchy, weathering effects to your photos. When you want your images to have that cool, retro vibe, Machine Wash Deluxe is the app you need.
The plugin comes with over 3,500 presets, which can be used to texturize and alter photographs in thousands of different ways and make them look old, vintage, or otherworldly.
Machine Wash Deluxe is an incredibly fun plug-in to play with and will help you create unique images that stop viewers in their tracks. It will cost you $99 to access. But if you have a little extra cash to spend, you’ll love the abstract photo transformations you can make with it.
Honorable Mention: CloudApp
CloudApp isn’t technically a Photoshop add-on, plugin, or extension — at least not yet. But it will help you get the “raw materials” you need to create great photos.
Our free screen recorder lets you record videos and take screenshots on mac and win of virtually anything, edit them in Photoshop, and then pass them on to your developer. If your developer has questions, they can take a screenshot of your finished product, annotate it, and send it back to you. You’ll then be able to comment on those annotations and easily make the required changes.
CloudApp is available as a Mac App, a Windows App, and as a Chrome Plugin. This means that just about anyone can create visual content from their desktop device of choice!
If you want to streamline your Photoshop workflow and easily create the stunning visual materials needed to get the job done, consider signing up for CloudApp — it's free and it integrates with Adobe products, Slack, and other workflow tools.
There you have it, the 10 best photoshop plugins in 2021. If you regularly use Adobe's legendary software, these tools will help you supercharge your workflow and create better visual content. Now you just have to decide which ones you want to use!
And don't forget about CloudApp! Our visual communication software is a great way to create the raw materials you need to edit inside of Photoshop. From screenshots to annotated images, use CloudApp to capture anything on your computer screen. Get started today for free!