Photoshop (PS) is a tool we have regularly use over the last 20 years. The image editing software has made it possible for us to improve photographs, create new images, banners, gifs and even layout websites.

Although the software is relatively easy for beginners to pick up, mastering all its features can take years. Layers, Filters, Color Correction and Masking, are just a few of the areas that can become baffling. A situation not helped by Adobe developers who like to move, combine and hiding once familiar tools.

One area that new PS users enjoy playing with is the various Filters built into the software. My first experiment with PS was converting a photograph to painting using the Oil Painting filter. I looked ok, but not great. The truth is many pre-rolled filters in PS are lame and overused. To get professional results from them, you will need to do significant tweaks and corrections to the basic application of the filter.

The ability to create your own filers can overcome the limitations of the included ones. However, building them is time-consuming and beyond the technical knowledge of most new users. One way around this is to use Actions, Brushes and Textures created by others. You can find free and paid resources which can be loaded into PS and utilised via the actions palette. Again, this can be a clunky way to work. If you forget to load the right brush or select the correct layer, the actions will not work. 

I’ve discovered the best way for novice and intermediate users to enhance photos is using the ‘Extensions’ panel. This panel makes it easy to extend the features and power of PS with virtually no fuss. I recently found a great resource over at Envato. You can purchase 1000s of actions and 100s of great extensions. The prices are competitive, around £7 per action and £15 for extensions.


To use these extensions, download the zip file, open it and click on the JS loader. This will install the extension in Photoshop, and you’ll have instant access via a dedicated control panel—no messing around loading Brushes or Textures.

A couple of weeks ago downloaded two extensions from Envato. I will share the results with you below. The extensions are called ‘Draftum’ and ‘Perfectum’ they convert images/photos into artistic renderings. Draftum can create various types of sketch looks, and Perfectum transforms photographs into Watercolor paintings. 

I will use the same photo across all filters so you can judge the results.


Base Photo