Awaken The Artist Within

The Beatles were wonderfully talented musicians and songwriters, creating original music that seems to never go out of style. On occasion, however, the Fab Four got a little help from their friends—friends who included music icons such as Eric Clapton and Billy Preston. Who knows, those friends may have inspired the song “With a Little Help from My Friends.”


Like the Beatles, do-it-all image processors like Photoshop are great all by themselves. However, the awesome creative power of these applications can be further enhanced with plug-ins. Plug-ins add functionality and simplify complex tasks, running within a host application like Photoshop or Aperture. Most plug-ins are available as a 30-day trial, so you can be sure they suit your needs. No doubt they can help you awaken the artist within.

AFTER Silver Efex Pro

In this article, we’ll take a look at several of my favorite plug-ins. Keep in mind that the end-result image shown here for each plug-in is only one possible end-result image—one out of endless possibilities that await you. Also know that you may be able to come up with the same effect in Photoshop without a plug-in, although it would take a lot longer than a click of your mouse or a tap of your stylus. Let’s get plugged in!

Silver Efex Pro

With today’s inkjet printers and specialty inks, it’s easy to make a great black-and-white print. However, you still need a great black-and-white image to print!


Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro ( can get you there. In the Control window, you can choose the exposure, brightness, contrast, grain and tone curve (to name a few options) to turn your color file into a beautiful black-and-white image.

AFTER Color Efex Pro

Here, I applied the Antique Plate effect, after which I boosted the contrast and brightness with the control sliders in the plug-in.

Leave a Comment