Recently, I’ve bought other imaging software in the form of plugins to complement the other imaging software that I have.

I have to confess that I’m a Paint Shop Pro devotee, but recently I’ve discovered that it does have some limitations.

Photoshop Elements 9 fills the gaps and does overlap in some places.  However, this is not the place for an in-depth analysis and comparison.

During this period of searching and comparing and checking, I discovered that both of these excellent programs still have their weaknesses, and often in similar areas.

This is where “plugins” come in to fill the gaps and enhance.  I’ve bought some, and I’ve found some excellent free ones on the internet.

The purpose of this tutorial is to show you how to install and use plugins in Paint Shop Pro.

No two plugins will install in the same way; and what you don’t want is to have multiple copies of the same file, one for each of the image processors you use.  What we’ll try to achieve is one copy accessed by all.  In this tutorial we’ll show you how to get both Paint Shop Pro X3 and Elements 9 to access the files.


Some plugins download as ZIP files to be extracted.  Some have installation routines.  What you need to do is to get the files installed into the Elements 9 file area.  When you are prompted by the download or the installation routine, this is the area to go for.

The installation routines will place the files into something like ...

C:/program files/adobe/elements9/plugins

assuming, of course, that you’ve told it that’s where you want the files to go if you run Adobe.  If that is not the case, then the files will go straight into the C:/program files area.  It is important to know where the files are since you’ll need to tell Paint Shop Pro X3 their location.

When Paint Shop Pro X3 is opened you’ll need to open File > Preferences > File Locations

plugins file locations

Choose plugins, leave the default choices as set in the displayed box.  When you click onto Add, a further dialogue box opens to enable you select the place where the plugins have been placed.  Plugin files usually have an extension of the type .8b? where  the question mark “?” represents another letter.

plugin find file

When you’ve chosen the location of the plugins, click OK  to confirm the location and OK to confirm the file location additions.

With your image loaded, Effects > Plugins should show the name of the filter/plugin you’ve loaded and the rest is up to your creativity.

Like all software, you will need to be wary of its origin.  My list is not exhaustive and carries no guarantees of the plugins working in your processing software version and in your PC or laptop. Processors and video cards have idiosyncrasies.


NIK Viveza which allows you to make individual adjustments to specific areas of an image
TOPAZ ReMask which cuts very accurate masks very quickly


  • Mehdi have a wide range, including Denoise which enables you to smooth out digital noise.  I’ve used it to smooth out JPEG pixel noise too.
  • Grainnatural which produces quite realistic grain
  • Weaver which produces a woven cloth effect.

Places to look

The Plugin Site

Beware, some freebies turn out to be limited time pre-purchase trials or have limited functionality.

Be selective – there really is some rubbish out there.  One man’s filter can be another’s junk.

Will The Plugin Work?

Simply, you don’t know.  Some of the plugins I’ve tried, failed because of the Operating System and Video card I run.

The programmers are aware of the problem; there are some little tricks they suggest that might overcome it; there is still no guarantee of success.

The best advice I can give is to download a trial version and “suck it and see” before you purchase.  One plugin that I cannot run is NIK SilverEfex.

Some clues as to possible success.
  • If it runs in Photoshop, it probably runs in Elements 9 (unless the instructions say otherwise).
  • If it runs in Paint Shop Pro X3, it most probably runs in Elements 9.

OnOne software offers some free stuff which is “cut-down” from the stuff which they sell.
  • PhotoFrame runs as an Automation from the File menu in Elements 9 and not as a filter.  It will not run in Paint Shop Pro X3.
  • The Layouts collection is sets of .PSD files.  These are frames and backgrounds.  All theoretically can be read by Paint Shop Pro X3 and Elements 9, but the larger files are in excess of 1GB.  My copy of Elements 9 running in Vista will read the files, but PaintShopPro X3 won’t.

Much of what is on offer, can be created to individual specification by a skilled worker in Paint Shop Pro; Elements 9; Photoshop.

A Few Examples

plugins topaz

This was produced by
  1. Separating the flowers into a layer using Topaz ReMask
  2. Treating the background using Topaz Simplify
  3. Treating the flowers using Cybia Colourworks Solar

plugins flowers composite

This was produced by
  1. Separating the flowers in 6 images using Topaz ReMask
  2. Copying each flower image into a new picture as a new layer – it’s just like cutting out and gluing in – it’s so simple
  3. The individual flower images were moved into place more accurately using the WACOM pen and tablet

plugins topaz

This was produced by

  1. Separating the abbey from the pale washed out winter sky using Topaz ReMask
  2. Inserting a new sky as a new layer
  3. The sky layer was positioned more accurately using the WACOM pen and tablet
  4. Adding a border/frame

Page Links


Will The Plugin Work?

Some Examples

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