Faking snow in Photoshop Elements

To superimpose falling snow on a scene in Photoshop Elements is fairly straight forward. However, I don’t think the effect works equally well on all images. Ones that include highlight & shadow areas appear to be the best but a little trial & error is probably recommended.

First, we need to resize the image (this is important for the snowflake size later). Image>Resize>Image Size & set the resolution to 72ppi. Make sure the “Constrain Proportions” & “Resample Image” boxes are ticked.

Create a new layer (Layer>New>Layer or the “New layer” button) then Edit>Fill Layer & set the “Contents” to black with 100% opacity.

Filter>Noise>Add Noise tick “Gaussian” at 100% & make sure “Monochromatic” is ticked also.

Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur & set the radius to 1.0 pixels.

Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels set the slider input levels to 140 low & 142 high.

Change the blend mode to “Screen” & adjust the opacity to make the effect look convincing.

Now copy that layer (Ctrl + J) & put the blend mode back to “Normal”. Image>Transform>Free Transform, grab the bottom circle & rotate the whole image 180 degrees. Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur & set the radius to 0.5 pixels. Change the blending mode back to “Screen” & reduce the opacity. Make sure the opacity of this layer is lower than the previous one. This will add some depth to the snow effect. You could repeat this previous step again (reducing the pixel radius further & lowering the opacity) as many times as you wish. It all depends upon the look you’re trying to replicate (blizzard white out or casual snow fall).

Depending on the original image you may need to alter the opacity of the two snow layers accordingly to make the effect realistic. The end result may also benefit from adjusting the “Hue/Saturation” of the original image after you’ve resized it to give it more of a winter feel (eg. lowering the hue & saturation, slightly increasing the lightness etc.) but this will vary from one project to the next.

Original image.
Photoshop snow effect


Week 24

Settings: Stock photo

Set up. Following a tutorial in “Photoshop Creative” issue 127

Opinion. I’ve come to realise that not only are many of the tutorials in this publication not possible on Photoshop Elements but even the ones which supposedly are or, have Element alternative procedures, are frequently not that simple to follow. I often find myself resorting to demonstrations on “You Tube” of how to obtain similar results. Fortunately I’m spoilt for choice more often than not, many with easy to understand explanations. So it was with this week’s project. However, as with previous attempts at following tutorials, a consequence of not getting it exactly right was I learnt new, cool effects.

For example, when adding the sparkles to the image I found if I added a layer with a mid to low opacity & then an additional layer with a higher degree of opacity on top, it created a more realistic effect as the sparkles appeared to now have depth. I also blurred the sparkles more on the lower layer (filter>blur>Gaussian blur) to help this effect.

The middle picture of the three shown here was the one I was initially attempting. However, I thought it looked quite good in black & white. I also discovered the image on the right by messing around with the “hue” slider while trying to boost the colours on the original picture. In the end there was nothing left for it but to create a triptych.