Create a Falling Snow Effect in Photoshop

December often makes us think of snow with all the holiday activities and the gift-giving buzz in the air.  It seemed appropriate to share a Photoshop technique for creating a snow effect especially for those who may not see snow very much because you live in a warm spot like the Carolinas.  This is a fun exercise to use on almost any photo but those with darker backgrounds or bold colors work the best.

  1. Open desired image.
  2. Duplicate the background for backup by pressing CTRL-J.snow layer
  3. Create a new layer and name it “snow” if desired (Layer>New Layer).
  4. Ensure your foreground color in the toolbar is set to black.
  5. Fill the “snow” layer with white by pressing ALT-Backspace.  This will cover your image for now.
  6. Now, fill the “snow” layer with noise (Filter>Noise>Add Noise).
  7. Set the Noise Amount to about 180, select Gaussian for distribution, and make sure monochrome is checked.
  8. Select Transform by pressing CTRL-A to select all and then CTRL-T to select Transform.  Handles should appear on each side of the selection.
  9. Increase the size of the noise by using the settings in Options bar while in Transform mode.
  10. Type in something between 150-200% for the W and H.  Press enter to accept the transformation.
  11. Convert the Noise to Snow by changing the blending mode of the “snow” layer to Screen.
  12. Now, adjust the amount of snow by going to Image>Adjustments>Threshold. Set the slider between 220 – 255 depending on how much snow you desire.
  13. Next, Select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur.motion blur
  14. Set radius to .5-1 pixels to blur the snow just a bit.
  15. Select Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and select something between 5-12 and you can   play with the motion direction if you want blowing snow.
  16. Variation:  Duplicate your snow layer and select Filter>Pixelate>Crystallize and vary the size of the snow flakes.  Repeat the blur steps if desired to further vary the snow effects.
    Before Snow

    Before Adding Snow

    After Adding Snow
    After Adding Snow
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