How to Create a Falling Snow Effect in Adobe Photoshop

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May 9, 2021
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I was working on a larger project a few days ago that I’ll discuss here on this blog soon when I stumbled across a neat effect that I thought you’d like to know about. the technique I pulled off creates what appears to be snow in a photo. It’s pretty cool looking and somewhat adjustable, so if you ever have a need to add falling snow to a photograph in the future, you know where to look for instructions on how to do it. Right here.

In today’s post, I’ll quickly demonstrate how to add a layer mask to an existing layer in Adobe Photoshop, how to fill that mask with a pattern, how to adjust the Levels of the texture in the mask and then how to blur the resulting effects so the adjusted texture looks like white snow falling from the sky. The angle of the falling snow is adjustable as is the speed of the snow. The best part is, the entire process is quick and painless. This isn’t a tough one at all.

The Demo Photo​

After experimenting with a few photos, I found that darker ones look better when it comes to this snow effect. It’s tough to see white on white, so I chose this darker blue on black on purple image to work with.


Adding a Background Layer & Layer Mask​

The first two steps are very basic. Because I’ll be dealing with a layer mask in a strange way, I’ll need to add a background layer that’s filled with white before I do anything else. Then, I’ll add a layer mask to the image layer. This is what my Layers panel will look like after I’m finished with these two steps.


Adding a Pattern​

Next, I’ll add a pattern to the layer mask. I’ll first click on the mask in the Layers panel to select it and then I’ll go to the Edit > Fill menu item and click.


After I do that, the Fill dialog box will appear. I’ll choose Pattern from the Contents drop-down and then Rough from the Custom Pattern drop-down.


If you’re following along and you don’t see the Rough pattern option, then you’ll need to click on the gear icon in the Custom Patterns drop-down and then click on the Erodible Textures option. Then, click the Append button in the confirmation box. This will load the pattern you need for this tutorial.

After I choose the pattern I want, I’ll click the OK button and this is what I’ll see over the image. Pretty weird looking.


What’s interesting about this is that the pattern, or texture, is applied to the mask itself, not the image. This gives us some options.

Adjusting the Levels​

The next step I’ll take is to adjust the Levels of the mask. I’ll make sure the layers mask is selected in the Layers panel and then I’ll head to the Image > Adjustments > Levels menu option and click.


When the Levels dialog appears, I’ll push the black slider (beneath the histogram) to the right about a quarter of the way and then the white slider to the left about two-thirds of the way. Doing this will clean up a lot of the clutter in the pattern and will offer distinct white specks. If you’re doing this yourself, try experimenting with the sliders to see what type of snowflakes you can get. It’s this adjustment as well as image resolution that controls the size and clarity of the snow flakes. If I were working with a smaller image, the snow flakes would be much larger. Take a look at the flakes in the screenshots below.

levels-dialog.jpg snow-effect.jpg

Adding Movement & Direction to the Flakes​

Now that I have actual snowflakes, I can add some movement and direction to them. I played around with a few filters and discovered that the motion blur one did the best job. So, again, I’ll make sure the mask is selected in the Layers panel and then I’ll go to the Filter > Blur > Motion menu item and click.


Once the Motion Blur dialog box appears, I’ll choose the Angle and Distance values that look best and then I’ll click the OK button to apply the changes.


This will be the final effect.


Different Size Flakes​

Now, I mentioned above that I could obtain different sized flakes by changing the size of the image itself. To show you this, I’ll reduce the image width from 4000 pixels to 1500 pixels. I followed the same steps I just laid out above and this is the result.

Here are the original snow flakes.


Here are the flakes with a bit of movement. Falling snow, if you will.


It looks sort of like snow from a Christmas cartoon, but hey, it’s snow.

And that’s it! Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this snowing effect in Photoshop down in the comment section below or in the Photoshop forum. Thanks for reading!


May 9, 2021
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Is There an Effect in Photoshop That Can Make Falling Snow?​

Why yes there is. I actually just wrote a post on this very topic yesterday. Take a look here:

How to Create a Falling Snow Effect in Adobe Photoshop

The post I just linked to was rather long winded, so I figured I’d write up a synopsis here. If you’d like to add a falling snow effect to a graphic or a photograph using Adobe Photoshop, please follow these instructions. If you want more in-depth commentary, you can always click through to the original post. Be warned though, this is a somewhat two-dimensional snowing effect. The sizes of the flakes are fairly uniform and it can either appear to be realistic snow or cartoon snow, depending on how you set things.

– Open your photo in Photoshop.

– Unlock the background layer.

– Create a new layer and move this new layer underneath the photo layer.

– Fill the new layer in with white.

– Add a layer mask to the photo layer.

– Click to select the layer mask and then navigate to the Edit > Fill menu item and click.

– Load the Erodible Textures patterns.

– Apply the Rough pattern and click OK to apply.

– Keeping the layer mask active, navigate to the Image > Adjustments > Levels menu item and click.

– Push the black slider to the right about 25% and the white slider to the left about 60%.

– Adjust these sliders as necessary until you see the snow flakes you want and click OK to apply.

– Navigate to the Filter > Blur > Motion Blur menu item and click.

– Adjust the Angle and Distance to your liking and click OK to apply.

That’s pretty much it! Again, you may need to click through to the post for screenshots and all that, but these are the pared down instructions. Let me know if you have any questions.
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