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.”

ORIGINAL

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!

ORIGINAL

Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro (www.niksoftware.com) 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.

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