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What Is Photoshop? + 4 Top Plug-Ins

What is Photoshop header image
Photoshop is the most popular image manipulation software on the market. Image credit Jakob Owens

What is Photoshop? Adobe Photoshop is an image-editing and photo retouching application that is widely used by professionals and novices alike. With the right user, Photoshop can create, enhance, and seamlessly edit images, artwork, and illustrations.

Photoshop has become the industry standard when it comes to simulating real-life paintings, changing background images, or manipulating just about any other image, pretty much irrespective of the format.

There are several variants of Photoshop, including Photoshop Elements, Photoshop CC, and Photoshop Lightroom.

Photoshop is probably the most well known image manipulation tool on the market, and is widely used by professional graphic designers, photographers, and web developers all around the world.

Let’s take a closer look at what Photoshop has to offer which makes it so ubiquitous.

What is Photoshop CC?

What is Photoshop CC graphic
Like many software tools, Photoshop is available in a cloud-based configuration. Image credit: Adobe

Photoshop CC stands for Creative Cloud, a version of Photoshop that is available via subscription. It is considered a licensed version, with it being the preferred version for professional applications.

Photoshop CC is available as a part of a suite with Photoshop Lightroom and the broader creative cloud subscription. It’s an advanced imaging software used by web professionals, video editors, professional photographers.

There is a significant learning curve, so novices are typically swayed away from Photoshop CC.

What is Photoshop Elements?

What is Photoshop elements graphic
Photoshop is also available in a more paired down version. Image credit: Adobe

Photoshop Elements is the preferred program for beginners and everyday consumers. Photoshop Elements contains many of the capabilities found in Adobe Photoshop CC, but they are much more streamlined and simplistic.

It’s built using the same core digital editing software and technology as the more powerful Photoshop CC. With Adobe Elements, users can manipulate color, crop, repair flaws on a whim, as well as draw on the image.

Limitations and What Is Photoshop Used For

When it comes to the usage of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, the best option will boil down to preference and the type of photography that you do. However, there are specific areas where Photoshop will outperform Lightroom.

For example, if you need advanced retouching at the pixel by pixel level or more advanced techniques, then Photoshop is preferred. Composites and HDR will also fare better within Photoshop.

With Photoshop, you can create panoramas. Lightroom also has this ability, but you will have less control of the effect and final product.

Which Photoshop Version is Right for You?

Ultimately, there is no right answer when it comes to using any one product in the Adobe Photoshop family. Thankfully, you can use Lightroom and Photoshop together, since they are designed to integrate when needed.

If you’re just getting started with photography and need an image editing software, then Lightroom is the place to begin. You can add Photoshop to the mix in the case that you need more advanced editing to bring your post-processing creativity to the next level.

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Photoshop is the most well-known image editing software for amateurs and professionals alike. Image credit: Nick Adams

Brief History of Photoshop

The history of Adobe Photoshop begins back in 1987 when Ph.D. student, Tom Knoll, created a graphics application in a Macintosh Plus. The rudimentary software was able to display gray scale images on a monochrome display.

Tom’s brother, John, was a photographer who persuaded him to turn it into an image editing software. Originally, Tom called his finished product ImagePro.

Two years later, Adobe bought his program. Finally, on February 1, 1990, Adobe released Photoshop 1.0. It was dedicated for use in high-end platforms and was solely utilized for professionals. With future reiterations, Photoshop became much more advanced in its ability to edit images.

Photoshop 2.0 and 2.5 brought the pen tool, CMYK color, and added color palettes. Photoshop 4.0 brought in the user interface that most Photoshop users are familiar with today.

Development of Photoshop Functions

On May 1, 1998, Photoshop 5.0 was released. Iit added its newest function: the ability to edit text and undo actions using the history palette. Area selection was also made significantly easier on this version of Photoshop.

At the dawn of the new millennium, Photoshop 6.0 came out, spotlighting vector shapes and blending options. As Photoshop evolved, additional software was used in a sort of suite. Creative Suite catered to all design needs, ranging from graphic design, photography, and video editing. Photoshop CS – or Photoshop 8.0 – came out in 2003.

With this form of Photoshop, designers had access to scripts and languages. Throughout the second half of the 2000’s, CS2 and CS3 came out, with many of the corresponding tools making editing easier for professional photographers.

These versions added the red-eye removal tool and made it much easier to navigate the software.

Popular Adobe Photoshop Plug-Ins

One of the other reasons that Photoshop has stood the test of time is the fact that it is easy to add additional functions using third-party plug-ins. Essentially, these are additional pieces of software which can be added into Photoshop, and accessed directly as you manipulate images.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular examples of plug-ins for Photoshop.

Pexels Plugin

Pexels Photoshop graphic
Photoshop users often need to use a large amount of stock photos. Image credit: ProfileTree.

The Pexel Plugin is one of the more popular plug-ins for designers who need access to a pool of stock images for their projects. This plug-in allows easy access to the website’s stash of photos without you requiring to open additional applications or windows.

RH Hover Color Picker

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RH Hover offers additional functionality for choosing and customising colours in Photoshop. Image credit: RH Hover

This plug-in is perfect for those who work closely with colour. This lightweight plug-in allows you to quickly pick a colour for the proper occasion or a specific effect. You’ll also be able to customize your colour with sliders, providing more control compared to what you can do with the standard colour picker that comes with Photoshop.

Filter Forge

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Filter Forge can be used to add filters to images in Photoshop. Image credit: Filter Forge

Speaking of filters, this plug-in is the go-to application for those who want to apply visual
effects to the images, while also enhancing them. There are over 12,000 user-created filters to choose from.

Version 6 of Filter Forge offers full 64-bit support for Mac and Windows, with version 7.0 releasing an array of upgrades.

Corel ParticleShop

ParticleShop logo
Particle Shop is aimed at improving the graphic design functionality of Photoshop. Image credit Particle Shop

If you’re creating digital art with Photoshop, then Particle Shop will streamline the process. You have access to 11 different brushes that will bring your composites to life, enhancing your paintings, photos, and illustrations with the help of custom textures.

The versatile plug-in can also be used with pressure sensitive tablets, or a touchscreen laptop.

What Is The Latest Version of Photoshop?

In the past couple of years, Adobe has shifted as to how they sell their applications, opting for a renting model. This decision was made to help thwart piracy and unauthorized access to Adobe applications.

Instead of a one-time purchase to use their software, Adobe is now adopting a subscription service for those who want to use their image editing applications. This subscription service includes 100 GB of cloud storage, video tutorials, and access to your own portfolio website.

For those who are serious about their editing or using Adobe Photoshop for professional services, then you’ll have access to Creative Cloud All Apps for a higher charge. This subscription brings all of Adobe’s software, including Illustrator, Lightroom, and Premier Pro.

Good luck!

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