Plugins for Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom, PSP & others


FilterForge 5

by Kay Michael Kuhnlein


Review Date: April 2016  

Web site:


Welcome to my second review about FILTER FORGE! This time it is version 5. It is still the most extraordinary plugin, in the positive sense. No matter which preferences you have as far as image processing is concerned, whether you are looking for a texture or whether you want to create a painting from your photo, FILTER FORGE 5 supplies the suitable tool for that and much more.

You may probably think that I am overdoing somewhat at this point. Definitely NO, because FILTER FORGE 5 has 11515 filters ready for download in its Filter Library. (The amount of plugins is rising daily, so when you will have read the review there will even be several more filters).


Installation and two popup windows – or what else?

The plugin was professionally installed in Windows 7 64bit. Photoshop CS6 serves as the host program, no problems here and Filter Forge 5 was displayed in the filter list of Photoshop afterwards. Note: You can also use Filter Forge 5 as a standalone version.

You can select here

Before you can work with the presets, luckily a popup window is opened. Here you can choose the way that the program uses when searching for updates. In former times I used to advice the reader to send the crab to Nirvana for eternity. Today I recommend to decide on one of the both control options, alternatively start the search via the menu Tools > Updates.

This way everything is okay

When everything is updated, then there is a corresponding information. Well, I can tell you one thing out of my own experience: The plugin prefers always having installed the most recent updates, otherwise you can take it for granted that somewhere something doesn´t work without problems any more.

I do love popups – they would have to be invented If they would not exist

If you like reading popups with questions, then just wait for the next start of the FILTER FORGE 5 program, your wish will be fulfilled. Here you are again allowed to choose from three options. I do not have to give you any recommendations here.

It works out like this, too.

To give us a feeling of luxury, a third way is also offered. The Tools > Options menu command and the Online tab sheet
takes you to the right place. The preferred options can be set here.


The User Interface

Easy to oversee and thus intuitively to use

You do not have too look for all necessary information and controls for a long time. At the top left of the window the folders with the effects are listed. They are automatically divided into different styles. Next to them at the right you can see the corresponding content of the previously selected folder with thumbnails and names of the filters. If you create own filter groups, then they appear in the same manner.

Below it you are shown the existing presets of the selected filter. Moreover, there are tab sheets where you can adjust the effect according to your personal preferences.

The installation contains a selection of filters that you can expand with the existing stock of 11515 filters at any time. At the top right you can find the button „Filter Library: Download more filters". Later I will tell you more about this topic.


A little practical training

Here is a small practical example to follow, so that the review will be less theoretical. Let´s guess that you need a nice colored background. No problem, here it comes instantly.

I chose the filter „Hipster Background“ that you find by default in the folder Textures / Misc.

Practical, fast and good

You start with a preset and if you are not 100% satisfied with everything, then go to the Settings tab sheet. For the sample image I have tested and changed almost all sliders somewhat - until I was satisfied.

Filter: Misc / Hipster Background / Preset modified – Works quickly and looks gorgeous, doesn´t it?

I like my background. If you your taste differs then you will find any imaginable option in Filter Forge 5, even for the most extraordinary wishes and demands.


Where are even more filters?

No matter how many filters were installed automatically, somehow almost each user has learnt that there are 11515 further filters at no extra costs – so bring them on!

You get the filter updates here

First the less greedy users are served. After successfully doing a program update you can look whether there are new filter updates too. It is great the plugin provides the Tools > Filter Updates menu command that for this purpose. You can open a dialog window with it where you can see the updates of the new filters. If necessary, you are able to download them directly from here.

The access to the 11515 filters

Now I will show you how to get to the more than 10,000 filters. At the top right of the window you can find the link that will take you to the web site of Filter Forge 5.

Right away you will have another filter on your computer

Just click on one of the filter thumbnails, no matter whether you choose one of the smaller thumbnails in the lower part of the web site or select one of the three larger previews, you are instantly served.

Just one more mouse click and the filter is yours

Now the selected filter with its possible varieties is displayed, which should make your decision easier. If you would like to have the filter, then just click on the "Open this filter in Filter Forge" button. You don´t have to do any more. For more downloads just repeat this procedure.


Now a stupid joke of mine follows - you do not necessarily have to read it.

We have 11515 filters. I grab them all onto my hard disk via download. Then I briefly test them with an image of my choice. At any rate I see exactly what I may otherwise miss.

I reckon very carefully that we need about 5 minutes per photo and filter for downloading and testing. Just take your pocket calculator out of the drawer and calculate 11515 x 5 minutes which results in 57,575 minutes. This would mean about 960 hours, provided that you have nothing else to do. If you spend approximately 10 hours a day with this task, then you are busy for only 96 days. Well then, goodbye and come again in about 5 months, because I do not work on Saturdays and Sundays. Joke finished.


You want even more filters and get creative with them?

It is actually hard to imagine that you don´t find something suitable. Should this nevertheless be the case, then Filter Forge does still offer a solution for that.

At the top right of the UI you can find the button „Filter Editor“. This button allows you to change an existing filter according to any demands or even create a completely new filter. You do not need any programming skills for that. You only have to study the instructions or help file of the manufacturer.

Here you produce your own new filters completely without any programming skills

If you have achieved something really great this way, then you should make your new filter accessible to the community via the web site of Filter Forge. This is explicitly desirable. Under certain circumstances you are even allowed to download a free version of the plugin as a reward. Please understand: I cannot iterate all details here, otherwise this is not going to be a review, but an e-book. If you are interested, please visit


Practical examples

There are worldwide suppliers who print your digital image on different materials. What else would be more suitable for an individual gift? It will probably be even more impressive if it hitherto received a painting effect or something like that.

Looks like Paris, but it is located in Las Vegas – Photographer: Silvia Kuhnlein –

Somehow I have to decide on a filter, which is sometimes not that easy considering the incredibly high amount of filters that are offered. Especially if you are not a person who is able to make fast decisions.

Filter: Creative / Paint HDRtist / Preset modified

After a longer period of testing I decided on the filter „HDRtist“ from the „creative“ group. The original preset has a bright frame that I still wanted to change a bit.

Settings modified

Very easy, a mouse click on the Settings tab sheet and I added the original image, which also serves as the background color for the frame, with the „ART BORDER Color" option.

Well, if you give such a great picture motif in paint style on canvas as a present, then it will certainly find a honorable location above the sofa in the living room, otherwise you should terminate the friendship (For sensitive people: This was irony!).

A typically painted Parisian street scene? - Group: Creative / Paint HDRtist / Preset modified

Who, what, how much

For each filter you can also find an About tab sheet. A mouse click on it is not harmful nor does it hurt. Just try it, you will get information on the filter author as well as feature details and number of downloads.


The following example is a portrait by HARALD HEIM, to which I will apply a filter of the „Photo“ group.

Original image – Photographer: Harald Heim –

You will find an array of filters in the „Photo“ group of FILTER FORGE 5, which optimizes your photos without any problems. I nevertheless selected an effect filter in this group.

Group: Photo / Filter: Lomo / Original Preset

Almost every plugin provider has built in a Lomo effect. The one in FILTER FORGE appears convincing to me. With only three mouse clicks I am able to achieve a really presentable result.


Original image: Holidays in Nevada, The rental car and I

Group: Photo / filter: Lomo / Original Preset – Photographer: Silvia Kuhnlein –

Although there are more than 10,000 filters available, I apply the filter „Lomo“ twice, each time with a different preset. You are welcome to hear the reason: I just liked the result while experimenting.


Filter: Creative / Alphabet Texture Creator / Preset modified

A top priority of FILTER FORGE are the countless filters for textures in almost all topic areas you can imagine. As you can see from the example above, the image effect is really convincing.


Especially graphic elements can rarely delivered by most plugins, but here you can find them in abundance. Nevertheless here comes another example with this style:

Filter: Creative / Circle Stained Glass Lite / Original Preset

Isn´t it cute? Provided that you like this artsy style. It actually doesn´t matter, but it is a good example for what FILTER FORGE 5 is able to do. Just see for yourself, visit and get the demo version there. After an excessive test, you will decide on purchasing it, won´t you? If not, I do not want to know anyway.


Here at the very last another example as a suggestion for experimenting:

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada – (not optimized, processed) – Photographer: Silvia Kuhnlein –

This photo will instantly look like a big painted sea wave - no more „Red Rock Canyon“.

Filter: Creative / Post-Modern Grunge / Original Preset

Yes, depending on your imagination or perspective the rock formation was turned into something like a wave with a white crest during a stormy sea. Just amazing what FILTER FORGE 5 is able to achieve.


Well, that was it, really. I wish you a lot of fun and success for the procession of your photos.

Kay Michael Kuhnlein



Return to the Main Reviews page


Still got questions ?