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The term plug-in is all over the web and is a topic common on digital art and graphic forums. So what is it all about? A plug-in is a small program that works inside a larger "host" program such as Jasc'sR Paint ShopTM ProR and AdobeR PhotoshopR. This small plug-in program makes it possible for the "hosting" program to do something more or better. You know the old saying "the minute I buy XXXX they come out with a better one". Well, plug-ins help to solve this problem.

Most plug-ins are created using the Adobe Photoshop Standard which means they can be used with commercial graphic software programs. If you are interested in a particular plug-in, it is a good idea to download the demo version and test the compatibility of the plug-in with your operating system and your graphic software. But if you are not sure, most plug-in sites will state which graphic programs their plug-ins will work on.

Most of the plug-ins made for graphic software are filters that apply special effects to your images such as borders, edges, textures, lighting effects and much more. There are thousands of filters to choose from. Besides big companies such as Jasc and Adobe, people such as you and me make these plug-ins. Three programs that are commonly used to make plug-ins are FilterFactory, FilterMeisterR, and FilterFormula. Many of the noncommercial plug-ins are posted on the web as free downloads.

So how do you find the plug-ins and how do you decide which one is best for your needs? There are several websites that can help you with your search. These sites offer a lot of ways to search for and evaluate the plug-ins. Here are some of the most popular sites.

The Plug-in Site
This site has a nice "start here" article about plug-ins that I found very helpful. There are also plug-in reviews, ratings, and a search engine. They have several how-to tutorials and a gallery of images to help you to achieve your goals. There is also a forum and newsletter.
Publisher's Website

Plugins World
This is a new site that started in February 2003. Their information and resources for plug-ins are divided into three categories. These categories are Adobe IllustratorR, Adobe PhotoshopR and Adobe InDesignR. They also have a "View Top 10" page.
Publisher's Website

One nice feature on this site is that several of the how-to tutorials are in PDF (AcrobatR ReaderTM) format. You can download these tutorials and read them offline as a reference. They also have a "Most Wanted" plug-ins page.
Publisher's Website

Bella's Plug-ins Resources

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