Sep 09, 2014

How to Create Snow in Photoshop

Let it Snow

Have you ever wondered if it is possible to create snow from scratch? In today’s episode, we show you that all you need is a custom brush and some blurs to create your own winter wonderland!

Custom Brush

Creating a brush from scratch is simpler than you might think!

Create a new document (500 x 500 pixels is great) and then create two round shapes apart from each other with the Elliptical Marquee tool. Click Shift + Delete on a new layer to fill them with black. These will end up being our snowflakes later on. Make sure to select Edit —> Define Brush Preset to turn your dots into a brush.

We can then go back into the image document and select the brush tool. Right click to bring up all of the brushes and select the one we just made! Next, go to Window —> Brush. This will bring up all of the brush settings we need to make our dots look like actual snow. Here, we adjust elements such as the  size, angle, and roundness jitter to create a more random look. We also increase the scattering and opacity jitter.

If you’d like to download the Phlearn Snow Brush, click the link below!

Download the Phlearn Snow Brush

Layers and layers

 A huge part of making our image look realistic is using multiple layers of snow (literally!). We can use our first layer to create the snow farthest in the distance. These snowflakes will be smaller and should be created with a smaller sized brush.

The next layer will consist of snow that is closer to the camera. This means that it can be painted onto the ground and the subject.

The next layer will have larger snowflakes, and so on and so forth. 5 layers is a good number, but every image is different and this may vary.

Blurry Blizzard

Without a blur, our round flakes look quite Photoshopped. By going to Filter —> Blur —> Gaussian Blur, we can select whichever amount of blur looks best for the image. This technique looks great and can be used on all of the layers of snow.

To create the illusion that the snow is actually falling, we can also add a motion blur to the snow closest to the foreground. Filter —> Blur —> Motion Blur will bring up the Motion Blur dialogue. Here, we can choose the angle and the distance of blur.

Final Touches

What is the best part about Photoshopping snow rather than shooting in it? You can erase and move as you please! Don’t be afraid to duplicate the layers and move them around to adjust the position of the snow. We can also press E for the eraser tool to eliminate distracting flakes.


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  • user image

    I would be cool to have any episode that uses some of the 3D tools from photoshop CC 2014

  • user image

    hellooooo i would love if you do an episode about how to retouch hair in a beauty portrait , you are awesome !!!
    saludos from peru.

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    Babar Asghar

    Great tutorial but one small observation i dont know if some one pointed this out or not
    like in this case we have successfully added snow to the image but during snow fall when we will take a picture in reality there will be snow on the subject also, so how to add that?
    Like over here, how to add snow on her lap, on the hood of her jacket n maybe in reality she will be squinting during snow fall!
    so how to do such things and make image more realistic!

    • user image

      You need to buy the Pro tutorial called Howl. Hmmm from the looks of it seems it has been removed for the new Pros. That’s a shame it was a great tutorial on how to create snow and add it to the subjects as well.

  • user image

    When creating a new document for the brush, your resolution was set to 72. Would that work for an image that is 300 pixels in resolution? Should I consider creating a brush with better resolution for those images that are not created just for web or perhaps it doesn’t matter…
    Thanks for your tutorials. Glad to be part of the phlearn community!

    • user image

      This is my question too! I see Aaron making brushes at 72 dpi. How important is that for print resolution images, etc? Thanks!

  • user image

    A very useful episode ! Maybe an episode to learn to create snow on the floor or in a landscape can be great ! 🙂

    Thanks a lot for this one !

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    Steve Schuenke

    Thanks for sharing all these great tutorials and techniques. I’d like to see a tutorial on diminishing facial lines and wrinkles, especially on a subject where these are really brought out around the mouth and eyes when they smile.

  • user image

    Love the tutorial! I have created the brush preset and tested it on a pic and it works (sorry I am still a beginner only had photoshop for the last 3 months..) Nevertheless I tried it on another pic and it works on the pic’s background but not on its layer, why? Could you please let me know what I am not doing right? Many thanks in advance

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    Chris Campbell

    Looks a bit fake honestly – most of the snow would appear to be really close to the lens for this effect. Is there a better way to make this a bit more subtle and at natural distances?

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    Cesar Montada

    I have looked at several tutorials about the Dragan affect but none of them are really good at all. I would like for you to do a tutorial on the Dragan affect.

    I have learn lots from your tutorials, you and your crew are just amazing.

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    vadde suhas

    what a great show tutorial , its was very helpful me and easy to do ….. thank u so much

  • user image

    Great tutorial. I have CS6 and loaded the brush and an image. The cursor does show the snow is active but still nothing shows on the image. I am new to photoshop and would like to see some details on how to get this loaded properly and what to look for when it seems not to be working.

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    Robert Splawn

    Hey AAron, I created the snow brush but for some reason the opacity jitter keeps resetting back to zero. What did I do wrong and I can I fix it. Thanks

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    I want to take a moment to to say a big thank you to The Phlearn Family for taking time out of their busy lives to make these free tutorials for us! I’m extremely thankful for every single one of you!

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    Haley Earls

    Thank you so much!! I did a themed photo shoot recently the popular “frozen” for a little girls birthday and you just save my day!! ahhhh!

  • user image

    Great video, I hope I don’t have to make snow this year but if I do now know how to, thanks Aaron. Loved the video bit at the end with the girl and the ufo, very creative!

  • user image

    Thank you so much for taking the time to create this video. I learned so much about brushes. I am self taught in Photoshop and can’t afford to take lessons so you are a blessing.

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    Suzy G

    Thanks !!! So proud I was able to achieve that snow all by myself!! There is so much I’ve had learned in that tutorial!! You’re a genius Aron! 😉 I’ll buy some actions and tutorials for sure! 😉

  • user image

    What photoshop version is your brush download for? It won’t load. And I have a question on how to open up the marquee circles in the brush options. Mine wasn’t there automatically like yours was in the video.

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    John Grady

    I know it has been a long time since you made this but I came back to it when I need it. Thanks Aaron and the whole Plearn team!

  • user image

    when u say Photoshop are you talking about cs x or photoshop Elements?
    downloaded snow but nothing shows up in image. how do i apply. newbie at PSE

  • user image

    Hey! I plan to submit an image to you in the future for some PS editing tips but I wanted to take a quick moment and tell you how much I enjoy your videos on YouTube. You don’t know what a huge help you have been to me as I grow as a photographer. Your videos are done well and you make tasks easy to learn – great Teacher!! Thanks !!

  • user image

    Excellent and timely! However I find it more helpful to convert the individual layers to SO before adding the blur filters so I can go back and tweak if needed … I’m aware this is an old TUT and I’m just sayin’ as I think it may help some people. Thanks once again Aaron!

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    Char Stokes

    I tried to download the snow brush and it goes to this pag with different letters and numbers. I am wondering why?