Robert Bowen September 7th, 2010

The Ultimate Photoshop Toolbox

For years now, whenever designers have been asked about their go-to program for image editing and creation, one of the top answers that comes back, is Adobe Photoshop. Its generations of evolution has centered around the growth of any number of digital imaging professionals and has made this software giant a staple in the graphic design community. Since so many of us find this tool in our design arsenals, we thought we would put together a post that would have you get the most out of this dynamic imaging program.


Below is a collection of invaluable Photoshop resources from the online community that runs the proverbial gamut of available PS content. From toolkits full of templates, shapes, gradients, brushes, and so much more, to individual resource downloads of informative PDFs, usable PSDs, and other content galore, this post has everything you will need to amp up your Photoshop toolbox. So if you are a Photoshop devotee, or even just a newb getting started with the program, take a moment to browse down through these useful downloads that we have amassed.


The websites that have been gathered below are the first place that you should go when you are setting out on a path of beefing up your proverbial toolbox of Photoshop resources. From the new updates that are still coming, to all of their past archives these sites provide a constant stream of tools.

Web Designer's Toolkit is a valuable resource for Photoshoppers indeed. From buttons, to form elements and even a collection of free Photoshop templates for professional layouts (including browser screens) this toolkit’s depths are packed with design goodies for many occasions and needs.

Free4Photoshop is another great place to head for all those resource hunters out there looking to score a wide variety of Photoshop freebies. This virtual vault of tools includes shapes, textures, brushes, gradients, patterns, and so much more. If you are serious about Photoshop then you need to check this site out to get your toolbox started.

Photoshop Essentials is another website that you should definitely be checking out if you are looking for in-depth, fully explained Photoshop tutorials which are written by Adobe Certified Experts. From beginners to seasoned vets, their tutorials are put together with any and everyone in mind. Photoshop made easy.

Psdtuts+, speaking of approachable tutorials for taking your Photoshop game to the next level, this site is another go-to resource for many in the design world. So if you are looking for more ways to tackle your design projects by employing techniques that you need explained a bit better before you proceed, then you might want to just head over to the pasture of tuts.

Photoshop Ninja is another popular site to check into for Photoshop downloads, tutorials and more that is geared towards the more experienced users. As you build your arsenal and level up your experience points towards a more PS ninja-like status, or if you are already on ninja par expertise-wise, then you should stop on by and check out all they have to offer.

Photoshop Lady might be another site that you want to keep bookmarked and handy for all your Photoshop wants and needs. They scour the archives of the web and gather the finest Photoshop tutorials for you and bring them all to one easy to find location. With most of the guesswork taken out of the equation, the site is definitely worth a look.

Photoshop Tutorials is a site whose name slightly undersells the place. When you are constructing your virtual Photoshop toolkit keep this helpful site in mind because they not only cover tutorials, but they also focus on inspiration and a variety of useful downloads for a range of users and expertise levels.

Photoshop Roadmap is one more bookmarkable Photoshop super center for users of all levels and needs. They have a selection of downloads from brushes to text and photo effects, and they even have a section dedicated to Photoshop related books and more. And to complete the Roadmap’s journey they even have PS tutorials as well.

Photoshop Toolbox Reference is a Photoshop users best friend! This site is a comprehensive cheat-sheet on all things Photoshop. The perfect addition to your PS toolbox, PTR has you covered from keyboard shortcuts to specific tool tutorials at the click of a tool name. Add a touch of convenience to your Photoshop workings, just follow the link.

Photoshop Gurus Community Forum is another invaluable resource for you to keep close as you strive for a more Photoshop savvy status. This is a very large and active forum of Photoshop users which is always a wonderful tool to have at your disposal. Take time to become a part of the forums and when you need help, you can always get a little help from your friends.

My Photoshop Brushes is another website whose name is deceptively underselling of the range and bevvy of Photoshop resources users can expect to find there. Beyond just a variety of Photoshop brushes, they also have a large collection of patterns, shapes, styles, and gradients to boot. Not to mention they even have some tutorials on hand.

PS Galaxy is the final multi-purpose site that we are going to feature, and if ever the saying last but not least applied, it applies here. The Galaxy is a dynamic resource hub that packs a titanic collection of tools for Photoshop users from PSD files to actions, and from shapes to gradients. With web buttons and templates also in their ranks, the galaxy certainly is vast.


Now we start to refine our focus a bit, and move into a more narrow area of tool gathering. Brushes. They are one of the more popular Photoshop resource downloads that are made and shared around the online design community, and they are also the next stop in our toolbox building journey. Below are some brush specific sites and some individual brush packs.

Brusheezy is a site that any Photoshop brush enthusiast should keep readily on hand. Not only is it a hub for thousands of available PS brushes from around the world wide web, but the site is also a great place to go to share your thoughts and opinions on the design communities collected brushes.

PSBrushes is another site whose focus falls specifically in the Photoshop brush arena, and should certainly be added to the designers list of go-to places on their resource hunts. With hundreds of free downloadable brush packs to offer, the site will definitely keep you busy for a while as you build up your toolbox.

Brush King is also a fantastic site to turn to when you are looking for sources for high quality Photoshop brushes. Brush King is near a necessity as far as bookmark additions go, as all of their downloads are free for use in all of your website and graphic design related projects. So the next time you need a brush, browse through their fine selection.

QBrushes is one more for the bookmarks indeed. This is a Photoshop brush focused hub that pulls in all of the free quality PS brushes that are released into the cyberspace aether. They pull in brushes from all around so that you do not have to do the proverbial footwork yourself. This site is regularly updated so be sure that you check back often.

BlendFu is another Photoshop brush carrier that has a bit of a twist from the others that we have featured thus far. BlendFu is actually a membership based resource site, wherein the members can log and track all of their favorite brush packs that they have found within the websites deep database.

iDesign Brushes is a daily updated Photoshop brush specific site, that is a submission based brush resource hub. They take in brushes that the community has sent in and pour over them, combing through with a fine tooth comb to find the best and the brightest brushes among the bunch to present to their readers each day.

1000+ Free High Resolution Photoshop Brush Sets is a useful collection from Smashing’s sister site with hundreds to thousands of incredible Adobe Photoshop brush sets from all around the web. If you are on a quick path for brushes without having the time to browse through the masses that the online design community has to offer, then let Noupe do the hard sorting for you. Just stop in on this post and load up your arsenal.

Over 550 Photoshop Brush Packs Free for Commercial Use is just what the title says it is. A post that has ammassed a huge collection of Photoshop brushes that are all free for both commercial and personal design projects. Another bonus is that the post is also kept up to date and current, updated about once a month.

25 Original And FREE Abstract Smoke Brushes from 1st Web Designer is a great collection of free high quality Photoshop brushes. The is a pack of fairly unique resources, all smokey in nature, including sharp edges and smooth gradients to complete the vapor-esque appearance of the set.

8 Free Fantastic Fractal Photoshop Brushes is another unique set of from the far reaches of the web over at Design Shard, that we wanted to feature for you here rather than making you go in search of them yourself. These high quality fractal based brushes are useful for achieving very abstract and astral like effects for the design projects that you include them in.

Hi-Res Splatter Photoshop Brush Set is another set that we have set aside to feature specifically so that you have them ready and loaded into your arsenal without having to look very far. This pack of 17 high resolution paint splatter based Photoshop brushes is a clean and crisp set that are ideal for both web and print centered projects.

High Res Mixed Brushes Pack for Photoshop is a set of grunge styled brush resources that include a variety of strokes, ranging in thickness and weight to cover all of your bases and needs. If you are looking for a quick way to add a bit of a distressed appearance to your designs, no matter their scale, then these awesomely detailed brushes should certainly get the job done.

Spray Paint Pack (Hi-Res Textures & Brushes) is the final brush pack that we are singling out in this toolbox building trek. Crafted using actual spray paint and textured paper, these Photoshop brushes are a wonderful way of adding bits of texture to your work. Which is actually said to have been the designer’s main intention when putting them together.


As we continue with our focus refined, we come to the next section in our search for Photoshop tools to add to your arsenal of skills, the PDFs. Not to be confused with the upcoming PSDs. This section includes several useful downloads that will provide hours worth of study time.

Adobe Photoshop CS - Tips and Tricks from the Experts is an interesting instruction manual of sorts that you can download and check out from wePapers. This PDf is a helpful look for beginners, and those looking for a refresher, at a variety of techniques that you can employ thorugh Photoshop on any of your creations and designs.

25 ESSENTIAL Photoshop Moves is an extremely useful learning tool, in a full color downloadable PDF, for users at both a professional and at a beginner level. With a varied collection of information ranging from tools to tutorials, from trechniques to helpful tips for getting the most out of your PS works, this lesson book focuses on 25 tasks that are essential for growing your Photoshop skillsets.

Worth 1000 Photoshop Tricks is a downloadable PDF of massive proportions that consists of links to one thousand useful Photoshop tutorials. Taking most of the time consuming web search out of the equation for you, this comprehensive shortcut places a huge amount of tuts right at the click of a mouse for you.

Photoshop Quick Reference Card is another handy download to keep in your design arsenal. This comprehensive PDF is a virtual Photoshop two page cheat sheet that can prove a useful tool as you dive into this in-depth and fully loaded program. It never hurts to have a sheet that you can quickly reference at a glance, and with this little cheat, now you can.

Photoshop Tips, Tricks, and Basics is another very useful, must-have download especially if you are just beginning to work in Photoshop. This PDF is somewhat of an introduction into the very basics of this creative tool to assist you in laying down a solid foundation of knowledge on which to build and grow. The tips and tricks may also offer somewhat of a shortcut or new approach for some of the more experienced Photoshoppers.


Now we come to the PSD section of this tool gathering post, and below are a handful of places on the web where you should definitely steer if you are wanting to get your hands on some .psd files that contain all of the original layers, masks, etc. then scroll down and get going.

Free PSD is a website that any serious psd explorer should have readily available. This site gathers together a massive collection of usable web based PSD templates that are ready for you to dive right into and get started.

Official PSDs is a bit of a different sort of a stop along our PSD collecting path. This site is actually a community focused endeavor that is kept alive and thriving by the users who make the site a invaluable place to come and share their favorite resources. PSDs of all varities await you, so it is definitely worth a look.

JackRebel PSD Files is a section of the JackRebel site that strictly covers Photoshop downloads. This is essentially a variety of PSDs all brought together to assist the design community with a lot of their shopped needs. Especially for those looking to design with a focus on electronics, this collection of files is the direction you should head.

50+ High Quality .PSD Files and Tutorials is another helpful Photoshop post from over at Smashing’s sister site. Want to get started on your next PS project, but do not really know where to start, or worse, don't have the desire to start from scratch, then let this post of more than 50 high quality Photoshop .PSD files be your starting point from which to find design gold.

500+ Free Download High Quality Photoshop PSD Files For Designers is another fantastic post where most of the work has already been done for you. The hunting and gathering has mostly been done for you, now all you have to do is make your way over to this expansive PSD resource collection and you can get a quick overview of what is considered to be some of the best free PS downloads available.

Download Free PSD Design Template from Lava360 is a free downloadable design template that is simple and easy to use to get started. Don’t want to have to scour through the numerous entries from some of the other featured sites to find a PSD to get your design project underway, then check out this free offering to see if it will fit the bill.

DVD and Business Card PSD File is another place to turn if you are looking to get started on a business card design or a DVD label, but you do not feel like taking the time to sort through the massive collections, then may just have the PSD file that you have been waiting for.

11+ Stunning Objects PSD Templates is a fabulous little collection of PSD files that will assist you with your web design layouts and so forth. Since so many of us design strictly for the web, we wanted to offer another more web geared set of PSD resources, and this post from The Design Work is it. If the web is where your design eye tends to fall, then you might just want to give these elements your attention.

Music Player UI is a bit of a different PSD file as to most of the others that we have featured, where as it is specifically focused on the user interface of a music player. The UI file is another that was separated out from the rest given its unique flavor, and should help you add a bit of bite your interface.

Everything Else

In this final section of the post, we come to somewhat of a grab bag of downloads that range from gradients to patterns and shapes, and from actions to plugins and filters. As you are finishing off your toolbox, be sure you do not overlook these final additions that could really make a difference in your Photoshop designs.

600+ Photoshop Gradients to Download is a wonderful place to turn whenever you are looking for that perfect gradient to complete your design. Not only does the post have a huge bevvy of downloadable gradient goodies for you, but it also includes a useful tutorial which gives you an in-depth look at the gradient tool in Photoshop and how to get the most out of it with an easy to follow by step breakdown.

Designerpie Freebies has a collection of thousands Photoshop design downloads for the whole community that anyone looking to expand their proverbial PS toolkit should certainly make note of. With an array of patterns, gradients, swatches and styles this freebie collection is sure to put a smile on the face of any resource hunting Shopper.

Free Photoshop Patterns is a website which focuses completely on one aspect of PS. The patterns. So you can bet that they are going to have an enormous selection to choose from, and that they certainly do. With thousands of patterns to choose from, you are nearly quaranteed that they can satisfy any of your PS pattern needs.

124+ Free Photoshop Actions to Boost Your Designs is a post of amassed actions that we felt you should most definitely have on your radar. What better way to take so many of the steps out of some of the repetitive processes that come with the design territory than by having an arsenal of actions ready and waiting to take the edge off and even shave some time off of the tasks for you as well.

400+ Time Saving Photoshop Actions is another time saving collection that we could not exclude from this ultimate resource post. When it comes to Photoshop actions, the more that you have at your disposal, the more repetitive tasks you can avoid in your work which makes for a happier designer. So for more downloadable time turners, stop by and see what all this post has to offer.

Richard Rosenman Filters and Plugins is a page that continues to grow and expand, featuring personally coded PS plugins and filters that range in their use for 3D productions, 2D design, and even reseach purposes. Unfortunately, due to a compiler limitation, the filters are not Mac compatible. They only work in Windows.

That About Does It!

That wraps up the toolkit building on this end of things. Now the rest is up to you. With so many resources and hubs to check out, you should have your hands full for the time being. Feel free to hit us up in the comments and let us know what you think of the collection. Whether we left something crucial out, or whether we turned you on to a new source for PS elements, we want to hear what you have to say below.

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Robert Bowen

Robert Bowen is an emerging author, celebrated podcaster and poet, and most recently the co-founder and imaginative co-contributor of the creative design and blogging duo at the Arbenting and Dead Wings Designs.


      1. Yeah, it was a joke. Originally the main graphic had the spelling “Toobox”. They fixed it though. :)

  1. I’m new to the Photoshop world so this will certainly come in handy. Thank you – I’ll be browsing these sites all day!

  2. I can recommend another new website i have found a few days ago:

    I think it should be included in this list because they offer good resources with commercial license. it is hard to find resources with commercial license now a days.

    other than this you have forgot to include all the envato marketplaces, which in my opinion it is also a toolbox for web designers.

  3. This is so sweet I just might get a bit of sugar high just by browsing through all of this. Really great round up of the best Photoshop resources around. Bookmarked it, Oh yeah!

  4. This must have taken you SO much time to research, try out, grab pics, and write your post. What a great resource, thank you!

  5. Hello, i came to this blog while searching for something else, but to my joy i found this internet site. Keep doing what you are performing, its excellent.

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