Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom: (Mac and PC Single License) Currently, you can get both programs for a yearly contract of $9.99 per month. Of course they other options. You can still purchase Lightroom individually, but Adobe is now adding features in the CC version that are not in the legacy programs.
On1 Photo 10: (Mac and PC Single License) One1 is making a push to give photographers an alternative to Photoshop. They’ve recruited a group of “heavy hitters” to help promote the programs. There suite of programs is now working well with Lightroom. Right now, I am still working in Photoshop and going to their filters to produce effects they can do better or faster.
Corel PaintShop Pro X8 and Corel Painter 2016: These two programs have been around for a long time, too. I have Painter 2016 and occasionally use it for some special effects. It works a bit differently than Photoshop, so it requires an additional learning curve.
Note: Most of the filter vendors offer a 30 free trial and most of those are fully functional during the period.
Adobe and Adobe Labs : Photoshop comes with a pretty good list of filters, including the Gallery Effects filters. (Many of those were originally Aldus Gallery Effects) Adobe hasn’t updated many of the filters in a LONG TIME! And, many of them will not work while in 16 bit mode. Some of the old filters need updating to work better with our large image files. Adobe Labs is worth checking out once in a while. Some of the utilities and filters are free. Some of them eventually make their way into the main program. Be sure and check out Adobe Paper Texture Pro. Once loaded, look for it in Window>Extensions.
On1 Photo 10: (Mac and PC Single License) One1 has been around a long time and has recently modified their filters so they show up in the Filters list in Photoshop. Earlier versions required you to go to the Automate menu items. They include a lot of very powerful filters.
Nik Software: (Mac and PC Single License) Nik was purchased by Google several years ago. In some ways, that was great because they repackaged the Nik suite and lowered the price on all of them.On the other hand, there have been no improvements or additions during that time. Still, their filters are some of my favorites. Nik filters load in the Filters list of Photoshop.
Topaz Labs: (Mac and PC Single License) This company is great! Once you purchase a filter pack, you never have to pay to update it again. Better yet, they are constantly updating and upgrading their filters. I have all of their filters but Glow and I am sure I’ll add it someday.
Topaz Labs: (Mac and PC Single License) I just received a notice about the new release of Topaz DeNoise6. If you already own any of the previous versions, the upgrade is (always) free. Topaz and Nik are a couple of my favorite filter packages, used regularly on images here. They are running a special $30 off right now on DeNoise6 (Through March 20). Use the coupon code: noisefree. I just downloaded it on my Mac and will add it to the PC tonight. The examples look pretty good for recovering high ISO, noisy images.
Auto FX Software: (Mac and PC Single License) Auto FX offers bundle pricing for their suite, individual titles are available. Check their site for details. They also offer 10 of their effect for FREE!
Filter Forge: (Mac and PC Individual Licenses Required) Filter Forge loads either as a standalone program or as a filter in Photoshop. Once the core software is loaded, you can go to their site and choose from thousands of filters to add to the default filters. Some of the filters load and run slowly on large files, but it has filters I don’t see elsewhere. They always seem to be offering 40%-80% off specials. Note: Many of the other software vendors all you to install their packages on a PC and a Mac under the same license. Filter Forge requires a full license for each.
Alien Skin Software: (Mac and PC Single License) Alien Skin makes several filter packages. Of the group, I like Snap Art best, however I’d love to see some additional adjustments and controls. It is difficult to set very slight adjustments—most of the adjustments are just too coarse or over the top for my tastes. It sells for $99, but you can download the free trial and see if you like it.
AKVIS Filters: (Mac and PC Single License) If you cruise their site, you’ll a lot of products and suites. I purchased the Artistic Bundle. The filter renders only a small loupe area while in the filter, then applies the effect on the entire image when you click the check. The Artistic Bundle has quite a few very interesting filters and one I check out regularly.
JixiPix Software: (Mac and PC Single License) JixiPix is another filter set with a lot of potential. Some of the effects are amazing! Similar to Akvis, I’d like to be able to make minimal adjustments instead of the broad effects. I find it fairly powerful when I use JixiPix as and under layer and then add back in details created with some of the other programs with more control.
Mister Retro: (Mac and PC Single License) Check out Machine Wash Deluxe and Retrographer. Currently, I only own Machine Wash Deluxe, which is great for adding textures over a photo. Retrographer is designed to give retro film effects. Looks very interesting!
Plugs n Pixels: Actually, this is not a vendor! Click the link to get a more extensive list of available filters, reviews, and often discount pricing. Keep an eye on his site for tutorials and webinars for the various plugins.
Captain Kimo’s HDR Software Review 2016: I only have a couple of the HDR filter options loaded on my computer and don’t use them as much as some people. This page might be of interest if you are searching for HDR software. He has a free eBook on the subject, too.
I did a quick search and found lots of Textures and Patterns, most of which are free. You can refine your Google search to something like “Free Photoshop Textures”.
I did a quick search and found lots of Photoshop Brush, most of which are free. You can refine your Google search to something like “Free Watercolor Photoshop Brushes” or “Free Photoshop Particle Brushes”.
I did a quick search and found these actions, most of which are free. Click through them and you’ll probably find some that can help you. There are lots of actions “hidden” in Photoshop. Simply click the three lines in the upper right of the Actions tab and scroll down to find some actions you can add right away.
Lynda.com: This is my favorite training site. For $24.99 monthly or as low as $19.99 for the yearly subscription, you get unlimited access to all of their training tutorials. You can sign up and get a 10 day trial. I’ve had a constant subscription for six or seven years! This is a great asset to learn Lightroom and Photoshop. My favorite instructor is Chris Orwig, also an instructor at Brooks Institute of Photography. Go to the site to see a few sample tutorials, or look for Lynda.com sample tutorials on YouTube. Lynda.com has many other great instructors including Deke McClelland, Michael Ninness, Bert Monroy, and John Derry. With Lynda.com, I am able to download my favorite titles to my iPad and iPhone and watch them at my leisure, even when not connected to WiFi or use phone data.
KelbyOne: I like this site very much, too. The price is $19.99 per month, with various additional offerings. The site is loaded with photography videos taught by some of the industry’s powerhouse photographers like Dave Black, Jay Maisel, Scott Kelby, and Joe McNally. I also like tutorials taught by Corey Barker, though many of those are geared towards graphic artists.
Photoshop Artistry: Fine Art Grunge Composition course : Taught by Sebastian Michaels. The retail price for this course is $397, but if you do some searches, you can probably find it at a substantially reduced price. Besides the actual tutorials, Sebastian supplies an ample supply of grunge and texture content. This course is probably geared towards an intermediate user, but he covers a lot of the basics, too.