Dirk Metzmacher March 15th, 2010

Photoshop Plugins: 3D and Beauty

Over the last years Adobe Photoshop's developers have been integrating some powerful 3D tools. Many of them require you to import a model from a 3D software or to gain profound knowledge of the software and its terminology. If you wish to move forward a little faster, then take a look at the following plugins.

Swift 3D PS

Manufacturer: Electric Rain Web: www.erain.com Price: $149.00 Target group: Pros Compatibility: Photoshop CS4 Extended 11.0.1 File size: 46.5MB After installation of Swift 3D you will probably go to the filters item and look for the plug-in. But in this new version, everything is different: You have to open the Swift 3D PS plug-in by clicking on Windows > Extensions >Swift 3D PS. A window will pop up that can be moved to the other palettes at the right-hand side of your desktop in order to allow a seamless integration with Photoshop. The basic functionalities include both text input and the creation and modification of basic shapes, such as spheres, dice or pyramids. If you go down, you can also select a material, such as a bitmap graphic or a certain glossy color. In this place you have the option to modify the light atmosphere or you simply open a finished object from the model libraries. The plug-in features numerous helpful settings and preferences. You will even be able to create simple animations. The import of Illustrator or Flash helps you to benefit from a fluid workflow even between different software components.

AV Bros. Page Curl Pro 2.2

Manufacturer: AV Bros. Web: www.avbros.com Price: $79.00 Target group: Newbies Compatibility: Photoshop as of CS3 File size: 3.1MB The Page Curl Pro plug-in helps you to create page curling and folding effects. At the first glance this does not seem to be of any interest, but this plug-in is the leading filter plug-in in its area of activity. This becomes evident when you see the results: You can turn pages, create folded flyers, or slightly bend a sheet of paper. Thanks to the various possibilities offered by this plug-in, you will be able to achieve your goal quickly. First of all, select either Curl (to obtain a curling page effect) or Fold (to obtain a folding page effect). Then, use the controllers to adjust the position, orientation, strength and distortion. You can even modify the back of the sheet (color or photo) as well as the opacity and the limitation according to your own requirements. You can separately open further palettes in order to change the light atmosphere, to adjust the position within the 3D space or to texturize the surfaces of the pages using a Bump Map.

3D Invigorator

Manufacturer: digital anarchy Web: www.digitalanarchy.com Price: $199.00 Target group: Pros Compatibility: Photoshop as of CS File size: 11.5MB The 3D Invigorator plug-in for Photoshop allows you to create 3D objects from an Illustrator file, a text or a basic shape. In order to ensure a smooth workflow, the plug-in takes advantage from non-destructive features such as smart objects and smart filters. When you’re finished designing the 3D object you can select from different rendering styles. You are thus able to create many different styles. Once you’ve finished your 3D objects, you can rotate them and move them to any point in the 3D space. Another highlight of this plug-in is the option to create different lights and textures or to select them from the material swatches. The user interface has been designed highly intuitive and user-friendly. It allows moving the camera and the light source with the mouse. You will thus not need to enter any numeric data anymore.

3D Maker and 3D Shadow

Manufacturer: Lokas Software Web: www.artistic-effects.com Price: $19.95 / Freeware Target group: Newbies Compatibility: Photoshop as of CS File size: 510KB/450KB 3D Maker allows you to create 3D graphical elements out of 2D drawings. The 3D effect is created using pixels from other parts of the graphic. The X and Y axle controls are fully configurable and allow you to turn the object according to your needs. If it’s too big, the zoom function helps you to adjust the size. If the border should be thicker, you can adjust this via the Depth value. And if you prefer to create a comic-style instead of a photorealistic graphic you can simply deactivate the Lightning button. Furthermore, the add-on allows you to move the light source, to reduce the strength or to modify the colors of shadows and lights. 3D Shadow is the perfect tool to create drop shadows that are difficult to create with Photoshop. Although there’s Drop Shadow in the Photoshop layer styles, you will be deceived by the limited possibilities offered therein. Not so with the 3D Shadow plug-in: Apart from the blurring effects, the visibility and the distances, you can also determine the X, Y and Z axles as well as the perspectives and two offset values.

3D Sphere Pro

Manufacturer: Richard Rosenman Web: www.richardrosenman.com Price: $29.99 Target group: Pros Compatibility: Photoshop as of CS File size: 497KB The 3D Sphere Pro plug-in by Richard Rosenman allows you to create 3D spheres, such as planets, offering fully customizable form, rendering, transparency, masking and lighting properties. Once you have created your 3D object you can cover it with a color or a texture. But first of all, you have to use the ellipse button in order to transform the sphere into an ellipsoid or to modify its height using the Cone/Flat option. Using the rendering option you can apply 60 methods in order to assign two colors to the object. Doing this, you can slightly adjust, move or rotate the size of your texture. You can also select a background color. The plug in provides you with 30 preset lighting options which makes this app even more complex

Craquelure 3D and Jama 3D

Manufacturer: Redfield Plugins Web: www.redfieldplugins.com Price: Freeware Target group: Newbies Compatibility: Photoshop as of CS File size: 473KB Craquelure 3D allows you to apply craquelure effects to 2D surfaces, thus creating a unique 3D effect. Two independent craquelure layers can be combined in order to achieve amazing effects. For each layer, a settings generator is provided that allows you to control the number, size, the angle and the shape. Each layer has its own Bump Map. You can perspectively distort the image using the Angle option. This even enhances the 3D effect. A Refraction as well as a Frequency option with a direct influence on the craquelures are available. And let me give you a word of advice: If you want to achieve a realistic outcome, adjust the Brightness control to a low setting. Jama 3D also creates folding effects. These effects, however, are different from those created with Page Curl Pro or other plug ins. First of all, you adjust the direction and the strength of distortion using the hash. A controller allows you to perspectively distort a layer and to influence the light, saturation and brightness. The height of the folds is largely dependent on the direction of the shadow.

Further Resources

Google’s 3D gallery

Manufacturer: Google The Google 3D gallery, better known as Google 3D warehouse, is a free online repository for 3D models. Here you can share your model with other users and you can collaborate on other models, such as buildings, plants or everyday objects.


Manufacturer: DAZ Web: http://www.daz3d.com/I/3d-models DAZ 3D does not only provide you with a lively community and a 3D software, but also with some free or very cheap 3D models and add-ons which help you to achieve even better results. The different models also include hair, motions and poses, themes and many more…

Beauty Plugins and Software

Smoothing skin, making a nose smaller, brightening teeth – anyone who already had the opportunity to retouch photos in Photoshop knows that this can take up a lot of time. This software and plug-ins can help and save a lot of time.

Kodak Digital GEM Airbrush

Manufacturer: Kodak Web: www.asf.com Price: $79.60 Compatibility: Photoshop 5 up to CS4, Elements 1 to 4 File size: 6.6MB No need for time-consuming masking and manual softening: The Gem Airbrush plug-in provided by Kodak automatically reduces small wrinkles and slightly smoothens the skin. The application recognizes harsh shadows and highlights and at the same time fully preserves details like fine hair. Therefore, it can also be used to reduce freckles and spots. Several control sliders allow you to customize the smoothing effects and intensity amounts at three levels of detail: fine, medium, and coarse. An interesting feature is the detail view located right next to the Before and After options.


Manufacturer: Media Chance Web: www.mediachance.com Price: Freeware Compatibility: - (stand alone) File size: 523KB CleanSkinFX is another application which can be operated without Photoshop. It automatically smoothes the skin of the object while preserving all the details and crispness of hair or the background. The Double Clean option creates a heavy retouched portrait and the Enhance pink option gently improves skin tones and also makes red spots on the skin less visible. Before and after images allow you to compare your reworked photo with the original. Although the interface is really simplistic and does not offer any options for adjustments the results obtained with this freeware are quite acceptable.


Manufacturer: Imagenomic Web: www.imagenomic.com Price: $199.95 Compatibility: Photoshop CS2 to CS4, Elements 4 to 7 File size: 3.6MB Portraiture provides a powerful skin tone masking tool which allows you to smooth the skin tones without affecting any other areas of the image. All other structures maintain their sharpness. And if you are in a great hurry, then use the auto-mask feature. Numerous settings with auspicious names such as enhance: glamour or smoothing: medium invite you to try the functions and improve your images. If you want to further fine-tune the results, you can create the most optimal skin tones and smoothness manually. You can save your own settings and use them later on for similar photos. Portraiture is not only available for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements but also for Aperture.


Manufacturer: Alien Skin Web: www.alienskin.com Price: $199.00 Compatibility: Photoshop CS2 to CS4, Elements 5 or later File size: 5.9MB ImageDoctor by Alien Skin is another Photoshop plug-in that smoothes the skin. Select an area of the photo and use the Blemish Concealer to remove pimples and other blemishes. Although you can only change the strength and size of your selection, you will definitely obtain a smoother skin: The skin softener allows you to reduce pores. Smart Fill helps you to replaces undesired areas of a photo with an intelligent sampling of the nearby background pattern. Furthermore, the app offers you the option to remove dust and scratches and to repair JPEGs.


Manufacturer: PictoColor Software Web: www.pictocolor.com Price: $99.95 Compatibility: Photoshop CS2 to CS4, Elements 4 to 6 File size: 2.6MB iCorrect allows you to instantly correct the white balance, exposure, and skin tone of any portrait. First of all, click on the black and white areas of the photos in order to set the white balance. Afterwards, control the brightness and contrast and last but not least adjust the colors. Skin tones play a crucial role for these steps as they should be natural and balanced. Once you have determined the perfect settings you have the opportunity to save them as Custom Settings in iCorrect. This is especially important if you want to edit a whole series of photos, such as wedding photos. The traditional problems caused by the heavy contrast of the bride’s white dress can thus easily be solved. The point-and-click interface is self-explanatory.

FaceFilter Studio

Manufacturer: Reallusion Web: www.reallusion.com Price: $59.95 Compatibility: Photoshop CS to CS4, File size: 6.5MB FaceFilter makes people smile. In Photoshop you can create the same effect using the Liquify filter or the Warp transformation. FaceFilter goes one step further. You can change and enhance whole facial expressions, open and widen eyes or adjust head proportions. Furthermore, the app provides you with the option to adjust skin tones and remove oily reflections. If you want to change the shape of the face you will have to set some markers onto the face, adjust the skin tone, if necessary, and select an expression such as Smile, Slim or Cool. If you want to create an unusual image, then apply some fun tricks to your photo. This category also provides you with unrealistic shapes such as Alien.

Face Control

Manufacturer: Redfield Plugins Web: www.redfieldplugins.com Price: Freeware Compatibility: Photoshop 7 to CS4, File size: 9.3MB The Face Control is another plug-in that allows you to change facial expressions of people in digital photos. As you can read on the website, human, animal, alien, or any other faces are welcome to test the advantages of this software. This very easy-to-use freeware program provides one single slider control: If you move the slider to the left, the eyes become smaller and the face becomes bigger. If it is moved to the right the result evokes the image of a small child with huge eyes and a special head shape. Despite this simple control unit, the plug-in offers a very high quality.

PortraitProfessional 9

More than just a simple enhancing software

Portrait Professional by Anthropics Technology is a real specialist application that has been trained in human beauty. It allows you to easily remove red eyes, brighten teeth and eyes or reduce wrinkles. You might think that Photoshop offers you the same opportunities. Well, this is true, but if you wish to remove grease, sweat or unsightly shine from the skin or to adjust the lighting on the face in order to optimize the skin tone, you will be happy about the options offered by PortraitProfessional. These features also include options to remove pimples and other skin blemishes, to smooth and color hair and to change the eye color. Manufacturer: Anthropics Technology Ltd. Web: www.portraitprofessional.com Price: $69.95 Compatibility: Photoshop as of CS (and stand alone) File size: 29.3MB Having all these features in mind, you could think this piece of software is an almighty application. And in fact, it is. But the above mentioned features are not enough: You also have different options to re-sculpt the subject's face. You may think that it is a bit too much to change the whole character of the model. But, please, feel reassured: If you only enhance subtle features of the image, you just slightly enhance the appearance. Once you are satisfied with your settings, you can save and them for other images. 01 Load the image Once you’ve opened the PortraitProfessional software, you simply click at the big start button and select a portrait you want to enhance. In order to assist the software, you will have to determine whether the model in the photo is male or female. To do this, you will only need to click at one of the two examples. Additionally, you can modify the orientation of the image and rotate it. Afterwards, the next stop will appear automatically. 02 Set markers As PortraitProfessional is not able to automatically determine the most important characteristics of the face, you will have to set some markers around the eyes, the tip of the nose and the mouth. Once you’ve finished this rough selection, you will have to set more precise markers by contouring eyes, eyebrows, nose, and mouth. Furthermore, you contour the pupils and the shape of the face. As the software provides you with step-by-step instructions, this is much easier and faster as you might think. 03 Adaptation The sliders on the right-hand side allow you to adjust the image according to your requirements. Try one or more saved slider instructions, such as remove wrinkles, or chose one of the preset eye colors in order to obtain a serious expression. You will achieve more targeted results using the face optimization controls. If you do not want to change the character of the model please adjust the shape of the face very carefully only. To widen the eyes, simply click at the eyes button. 04 Adjusting details The skin control allows you to remove pores, shadows and wrinkles. You can also slightly tan the skin or reduce the oily appearance. The retouch and skin selection brushes help you to obtain maximum results. Eyes are a very important feature for portraits. In order to obtain more intensive eyes you should brighten the eye color, sharpen the eyes and adjust the colors. You can virtually apply lipstick and create shiny hair by marking these areas using a brush.

Dirk Metzmacher

Dirk Metzmacher is a professional Photoshop trainer, book author and designed with over 10 years of experience. He is also a creative mind behind Photoshop Weblog, a blog about techniques, tutorials and resources related to Adobe Photoshop.


  1. Thanks for this nice post, these photo shop plug-in seem to be really great!

    Portraiture & 3D Invigorator are great…

  2. Nice plugins guys…I usually stay away from most, but some of these look like they might actually be worth checking out. THX!

  3. All these are great and new to me but the one I’m looking forward in trying out is the “AV Bros. Page Curl Pro 2.2”, the interface makes me chuckle, looks fun to mess around with.

  4. Sorry, but in my opinion this plugin’s sucks. On the other hand its pure liking. The most thing what makes me sick is that all these plugins use this damn gaussian blur filter. Where’s the natural aspect? I am a professional digital designer so i would never grab this tools.

  5. I gotta bust balls here a little bit. Aside from Swift 3D, most of these look like a compensation for not knowing PS. *shrug Thx for the collection though.

  6. Noupe.com is d best site for the designers n creativity lovers i have found till date. Keep up the gud work noupe.
    U rock!!


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