How to Add Snow to Photos in Photoshop Elements

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How to Add Snow to Photos in Photoshop Elements

Add Snow to a Photo - Before and After
Photo via Pixabay, licensed under Creative Commons. Text © Liz Masoner

Nothing evokes a chilly winter day more than falling snow. Unfortunately, snow doesn’t always show up well in photos. Whether the snow didn’t show up or you want to add snow to a photo taken without it, it is easy to add snow to a photo with Photoshop Elements.

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Create a New Layer

Adding a New Layer
Text and Screen Shots © Liz Masoner

To add snow to an image, start by opening it in Photoshop Elements and creating a new blank layer by clicking the New Layer icon above the Layer display. Leave the opacity set at a full 100 percent and the blend style at Normal.

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Pick a Snow Brush

Pick a Snow Brush
Text and Screen Shots © Liz Masoner

Snowflakes have distinct shapes, but they are so small we see them as irregular dots as they are falling. Because of this, you don’t want to pick a snowflake-shaped brush or a perfectly round brush.

Select the Brush tool. Now look in the default brushes and select a brush with small frayed edges that cause the snow to look fluffy.

Click Brush Settings and change the scatter and spacing. This lets you add multiple flakes with one click while avoiding clumps. If you want to add flakes even faster, click the airbrush icon on the brush menu and flakes continue to appear as long as you hold down the mouse button.

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Build Up Snow Layers

Adding Motion Blur
Text and Screen Shots © Liz Masoner. Photo via Pixabay, licensed under Creative Commons.

Brush a layer of snow on the image. You may need to adjust the brush size a few times to find the right size for your specific photo. After you add a layer of snow, go to the Filter menu and then Blur. From there, select Motion Blur. In the Motion Blur menu, select a slightly angled direction and a small distance. The goal is to suggest motion, not completely blur out the flakes.

Repeat this process a couple of times to create the illusion of depth to the snowflakes. Changing the brush size for some flakes helps add to this effect as well.

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Finalizing the Snow Effect

The finished snowy photo
Text and Screen Shots © Liz Masoner. Photo via Pixabay, licensed under Creative Commons.

To add the final touches to the snow effect, brush on a few scattered flakes that are not blurred. Don’t forget to get flakes in front of your subject. Since you use a separate layer, you can always erase any flakes that obscure an eye or another important part of the subject.