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ToonIt! for Adobe Photoshop

Do not let the $159 price tag of ToonIt! for Photoshop scare you off By Kevin McAuliffe

I have to say that I was disappointed when I heard that Digital Anarchy was getting out of the After Effects plug-in market, and focusing entirely on Photoshop, as I always really liked its plug-ins. When the opportunity came up for me to take a look at ToonIt! for Adobe Photoshop, I jumped at the chance, as I liked the After Effects version when I looked at it. Let's see how the Photoshop version stacks up.


Installation of ToonIt! is quick and simple, and you should be up and running in no time. Digital Anarchy offers a free trial of ToonIt!, so you can give it a whirl before you buy it! ToonIt! is available for Mac with 10.3.9, 10.4 or 10.5 on both Intel and PowerPCs and is supported in Photoshop 7 and above (as well as PS CS4), as well as PS Elements 5.0 and higher. Nice!



I just want to get one thing out of the way right off the bat, and that is that this is the first review that I have done of a Photoshop plug-in, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I did however do a tutorial using ToonIt! for Adobe's After Effects, so I was familiar with the plug-in, but let me say this. ToonIt! was made for Photoshop as it just "feels" much better in Photoshop than it ever did in After Effects.

ToonIt!, for those who are not familiar with it, is a plug-in designed to make your images look as though they were hand drawn (or painted) in a cartoon style. With Photoshop open, simply navigate to FILTER>DIGITAL ANARCHY>ToonIt!.

After a few seconds, you are greeted by the ToonIt! interface which may look daunting, but it is actually quite simple to use. As you can see, I already have an awesome look, and I didn't adjust one parameter or do anything to the effect. The ToonIt! interface is divided into three sections. The one that everyone will probably gravitate to right away is the "Preset Manager" in the upper right corner.

You have a staggering 45 presets on installation, with the ability to create as many as you want or need. You also get a thumbnail sample, so you know what you are getting (for all you Frank Miller fans out there, there is even a "Red Miller" preset). Jumping over to the lower right corner, you have the "Effects Palette". Here is where you will do most of your work with ToonIt!. When you apply the effect, "Blur/Color" is the only section that is active. You can work in a linear fashion across the tabs to apply Halftone, Stipple, Shadow, Outlines or Marker Outlines, as you need them.

Take a look at what I whipped up in about 15 seconds using only the Effects Palette.

It looks great because it's almost as though someone has drawn it by hand. The best part is that ToonIt! applied the effect in no time flat, which is great when you have to come up with something quick for a client!

The last section of the ToonIt! interface is the "Style Creator". Much like the name suggests, this is where you will tell ToonIt! what style you want it to create your "drawn" image in. You have 12 styles to choose from, but for me, "Airbrush" is my "go to" style with "Flat Shaded" and "Flat Detailed" running a close second and third.

I really like the look of these three styles. In my opinion, they look the most realistic, and produce the best looking results. In the end, ToonIt! does three things right; It's very simple to use; it's very (very) quick to process a look; and it produces great looking results. Pretty much everything you would be looking for in a plug-in.


ToonIt! costs $159 US, and for a single plug-in it might seem a little expensive, but I believe that it is well worth it if you are looking for a "cartoon-look" plug-in. With 45 presets, a powerful plug-in engine and excellent results, every penny of the $159 you spent, you will see on the screen.


  • Simple to use, with excellent looking results
  • 45 presets is impressive
  • If you liked the After Effects version, this one is even better!
  • Support for Photoshop 7 to CS4 (and even PS Elements)
  • Also available for Apple's Aperture (sweet!)


  • $159 price tag might scare people off

Purchase Recommendation: If you want that "cartoon" look, you can't go wrong with ToonIt!

Do not let the $159 price tag of ToonIt! for Photoshop scare you off, as I think that it is one of the best plug-ins that Digital Anarchy has created to date. If you are sitting on the fence about purchasing ToonIt!, or used the After Effects version and want to see how much better the Photoshop version really is, head over to, and download the free demo. You won't regret it!

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

Related Keywords:photoshop plugins, digital imaging, cartoon effect,


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