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

Not much screams winter more than falling snow.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always show up well in our photos.  Whether it just didn’t show up or you would just like to add snow to a photo taken without it, this tutorial will show you how easy it is to add snow to a photo with Photoshop Elements.

This tutorial is written using PSE12 but should work with any version that includes gradient mapping.

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Create a New Layer

Adding a New Layer
Text and Screen Shots © Liz Masoner

Start off by creating a new blank layer by your favorite method.  I prefer the new layer icon above the layer display.  Leave the opacity at a full 100% and the blend style as normal.

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Pick Your Snow Brush

Pick a Snow Brush
Text and Screen Shots © Liz Masoner

Snowflakes have very distinct shapes but they are so small we see them as irregular dots as they are falling.  As such, you don’t want to pick a snowflake shape brush, nor do you want a completely round brush.

Select the brush tool.  Now look in your default brushes and select brush #14.  This has some small frayed edges that help make the snow look fluffy.

Now click brush settings and change the scatter and spacing as I show in the example.  This will let 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 will 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 on a first layer of snow.  You’ll probably need to adjust the brush size a few times to find the right size for your specific photo.  Once you have a layer of snow added, go to your 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 your snow.  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 your snow effect, brush on a few scattered flakes that will not be blurred.  Don’t forget to get flakes in front of your subject.  Since we used a separate layer, you can always erase any flakes that obscure and eye or other important part of your subject.

That’s it; you now have a lovely snowy photo!