Snow Effect in Photoshop

Use Adobe Photoshop to add realistic snow effect to your pictures. Even if picture is taken in summer :)

All keyboard shortcuts are for PC. I don’t have a Mac, but as far as I know the main difference is use of the COMMAND key and OPTION key on a Mac instead of the CTRL key and the ALT key on a PC.

Original photo. Northern Finland, not far from the polar circle:

Let’s try to add little snow to it.

Step 1. Duplicate background.

As usual, begin with pressing CTRL-J to duplicate “Background” layer. That will let you have a “backup” of the orginal image if something goes wrong.

Step 2. Create “Snow” layer filled with white.

Press CTRL-SHIFT-N to create new layer. Give it a name “Snow”.

Press SHIFT-F5 to fill new layer with white.

Step 3. Fill “Snow” layer with noise.

Select Filter – Noise – Add Noise.

Set Noise Amount to 100-150%, Gaussian distribution, Monochromatic NOT checked.

Step 4. Increase noise size.

Press CTRL-A to Select All, then CTRL-T to Transform.

Use numeric input in the upper part of the window, set vertical and horizontal scale to 150-200%.

Step 5. Set blending mode of “Snow” layer to “Screen”.

Step 6. Convert noise to snow.

Use Image – Adjustments – Threshold. Set Threshold amount to 200-240, depending on how much snow you want.

Select Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur. Set Radius to 0,5 – 1 pixels. Do not blur snow too much at this step.

My values are: Threshold – 243, Gaussian blur – 0,6 pixels.

Step 7. Make snow fall.

Select Filter – Blur – Motion Blur. Set Distance to 8-12 pixels and try various directions.

Step 8. Ideas for further adjustments.

Image after some editing:

  • Create “Snow – 2″ layer for small-sized snow using technique explained above, but do not increase noise size (as in Step 4) and set Threshold to 230-240 to have little amount of snow.
  • Try to set opacity of “Snow” and “Snow – 2″ layers to 60-80%.
  • Make some areas less “snowy”. There are two ways to do that, “simple” and “advanced”. Simple way is to use Eraser tool in Brush mode with opacity set to 20-30% and remove snow from areas where it is unwanted.

    Advanced way is using layer mask; it’s non-destructive as you do not delete anything but simply hide it. Select
    Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal All, then take large soft brush, set brush opacity to 20-30%, press D to set foreground color to black and paint over the areas where you want to hide snow. Set brush color to white to reveal snow again.

  1. arie says:

    this is nice and easy :) do u have another tutorial like this ?? i like it so much :) good job man..keep up the good work :)

  2. Michelle (Gibson Studios inc. says:

    When I get to the part where I need to go to image then adjustments..It wont let me nothing is highlighted for me to click on..what do I need to do?

  3. Matty says:

    Making a Christmas card, and this tut has helped me. Thank you…

  4. zomg says:

    zomg thx 4 tut

  5. ema johnson says:

    this is an awsome tutorial..i am so pleased with the results..try it,,so fun!x

  6. GracieZG says:

    If there is a prize for best tutorial on making snow, you get it. I tried four before this one and there was always something that didn’t work. This one — perfect. Thanks for sharing your skills.

  7. lauren says:

    I know i’m a couple years too late but in response to Michelle’s post…
    did you hit enter after your free transformed? if not then you will not be able to do much in your finder bar other than save.

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