This week now that winter is upon us, on-hand Photoshop Guru Eric Renno, from tutorial site Tip Squirrel demonstrates how to achieve a snow effect in Photoshop.

The base image for this tutorial is ‘Kids having fun on a sleigh ride in winter

Kids having fun on a sleigh ride in winter

Adding snow in Photoshop can be done really easily with a brush, layers and the odd Layer Mask.

Make a Snow Brush 

Choose a simple round, brush and make the following adjustments:
Fotolia_photoshop_snow_02I’ve made the brush quite soft from the start here, but for your image you may want to start with a hard edge brush and blur later.

Shape Dynamics

These settings allow the brush to change size as it’s painted (1) but only to 70% of its original size (2). The angle of the brush is also randomised (3),  as too is the roundness (4) so that the flakes are non-uniform.



Scattering the brush allows some more randomness. Scattering on both axis (1) spreads the brush one both X and Y (vertical and horizontal) and the control (2) determine how far the scatter occurs. The count (3) determines the number of ‘flakes’ that will be added in the gaps with jitter, or randomness (4).


By altering the opacity here we are asking Photoshop to blend the brush tips, or flakes, together, overlaying them.

Paint on the Snow

Create a new layer and call it Snow FG


With a small brush, this will depend on the resolution of your image, paint with white.

Fotolia_photoshop_snow_06This is the background so will need a good layer of snow. Increase the brush size by pressing ] a few times, create a new layer called Mid and paint again. This will create snow with a closer effect.

Fotolia_photoshop_snow_07Repeat this new layer, bigger brush technique until you get to the size you require. I think I’ll just do one more layer called Snow FG:

Adding Movement

Change the Snow BG layer to a smart object by clicking Filter > Convert for Smart Filters.

Add a little Motion blur to give a sense of movement:


Repeat this for the other layers but you may want to increase the amount of blur each time as flakes close to the camera will be moving through the frame in less time.

Mask the Snow 

If, as with my image here, there’s a little too much snow on your subject, add a mask to the layer:


Then with a black brush, reset to a solid non-scattered and paint over the areas the snow should not appear. To do this incrementally reduce the opacity of the brush to 10 or 20%

Fotolia_photoshop_snow_09Finishing off 

Add more masks if you wish and reduce the opacity of the layer for even more realistic snowfall.


As always, a big thanks to Eric for supplying this super detailed tutorial. Stay tuned for next week and in the meantime, check out more of his tutorials on his websiteYouTube and you can find him on Facebook and Twitter should you wish to get in touch with him!