How to Add Snow in Photoshop

Create a snowy Photoshop overlay for your image

Taking a photo during a snowstorm is challenging. You and your camera will get cold and wet, and shooting is difficult because the lens wants to focus on the snowflakes instead of your subject. It might be easier to add a snow overlay in Photoshop instead. Here's a look at how to add snow in Photoshop.

Let's add a snow layer to this winter scene

How to Create a Snow Layer in Photoshop

While there are quite a few steps involved, with a little patience, you'll be able to add light snowfall or a full-blown blizzard to your favorite winter images.

  1. Open Photoshop and add the photo to which you want to add a snow effect.

    Open Photoshop and add the photo to which you want to add a snow effect.
  2. Select Layers to open the Layers Palette, and then select the plus sign to create a new layer.

    Select Layers to open the Layers Palette, and then select the plus sign to create a new layer.

    You'll know it's the right icon when you hover your mouse over it and the words "Create a new layer" appear.

  3. Select the new layer.

    Select the new layer.
  4. Select the Edit menu from the top and then select Fill.

    Select the Edit menu from the top and then select Fill.
  5. From the Contents drop-down menu, select Black, and then select OK.

    From the Contents drop-down menu, select Black, and then select OK.
  6. The image will turn black.

    The image will turn black.
  7. We'll now transform this layer from black to "noise." Select Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

    Select Filter > Noise > Add Noise.
  8. In the Add Noise dialog box, under Amount, use the slider to create the desired amount of noise.

    In the Add Noise dialog box, under Amount, use the slider to create the desired amount of noise.

    It's completely up to you how much noise you want to add.

  9. Select Gaussian and place a check next to Monochromatic. Select OK.

    Play with the Add Noise slider box
  10. To make the noise look more like snow, go to the Filter menu and select Blur > Blur More.

    go to the Filter menu and select Blur > Blur More.
  11. The photo may resemble pavement at this point, but we're on the right track.

    The blurred image resembles pavement.
  12. From the top menu, select Image > Adjustments > Levels.

    From the top menu, select Image > Adjustments > Levels.
  13. In the Levels dialogue box, under Input Levels, move the black slider in from the left until it hits around 166. Move the white slider in from the right until it measures about 181. Select OK when you're done.

    The noise should begin to look less like pavement and more like a starry night.

    Adjust the input levels so the image starts to look like a starry night
  14. From the Layers Palette on the right, select the Effects drop-down menu (where it says "Normal"), and then select Screen.

    From the Layers palette on the right, select the Effects drop-down menu (where it says "Normal"), and then select Screen.
  15. Your image will become visible again, along with some snow overlaying the picture.

    Your image will appear again along with some snow
  16. To make it look like our snow is falling by using a blur effect, select Filter from the top menu and then select Blur > Motion Blur.

    Select Filter from the top menu and then select Blur > Motion Blur.
  17. In the Motion Blur dialog box, choose your snow's Angle and Distance (how much it's moving.) Select OK when you're done.

    Select the angle and distance of your snow

    In this example, we set the angle to 300, making the snow come from the right. We set the distance at 10 pixels to give the impression of a fierce storm. Fewer pixels would lighten the storm. Experiment and play around with your settings until you get the desired effect.

  18. To add more snow, select the layer in the Layers Palette, and then select Layer > Duplicate Layer.

    To add more snow, select the layer in the Layer's Palette, and then select Layer > Duplicate Layer.

    Alternatively, right-click on the layer and then select Duplicate.

  19. Name the duplicate layer and then select OK.

    Name the duplicate layer, and then select OK.
  20. To make the snow layers look less uniform, we'll move the layers around a bit. Select one of your duplicate layers in the Layers Palette, and then select Edit > Transform > Rotate 180 degrees.

    select Edit > Transform > Rotate 180 degrees.
  21. For a more natural look, select another snow layer, and then select Edit > Free Transform.

    Select Edit > Free Transform.

    Drag the layer around until it looks sufficiently random.

  22. If the snow obscures your subject's face, erase a bit of it. Select a snow layer, choose the Eraser tool from the tools menu on the left, and then wipe away some snow.

    Select eraser tool to remove some snow

    This won't affect the subject's face because the subject is on a different layer.

  23. Enjoy your final snowy image!

    Final image of snow with Photoshop