How to create realistic falling snow in Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop snow tutorial header

Add festive falling snow to your winter photos to give them an added wintery touch. Follow these simple steps to spice up your creations.

Pick your photo
We’ve chosen this shot for its fun appeal - all it needs now is some snow. Once you’ve chosen yours, open it in Photoshop by clicking File>Open and navigating to the file. Or just drag and drop the file into an open Photoshop window.

Photoshop snow effect - chosen photo

Make a layer filled with black
To add a base for your snow, create a new layer in Photoshop. Make sure the layers palette is visible by clicking Window>Layers

Photoshop snow tutorial layers palette

Click the New Layer icon at the bottom (or click Layer>New>Layer).

Photoshop snow tutorial new layer

Fill the layer with black by selecting Edit>Fill. Select Contents: Color, choose black, and click OK.

Photoshop snow tutorial fill with black

Add ‘Noise’ to create snow
To add noise, select Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Make sure Monochromatic is selected, and switch to Gaussian distribution. Drag the slider to around 150%, and click OK.

Photoshop snow tutorial add noise

Switch to ‘Screen’ blending mode
To make sure the snow layer ‘floats’ above the rest of your photo, take a look at the top of the layers palette (Window>Layers) - you should see a dropdown menu at the top that says ‘Normal’. Make sure the snow layer is selected, then click the dropdown and select Screen blending mode.

Photoshop snow tutorial screen blending mode

This is the effect you should see over your photo.

Photoshop snow tutorial noise added

Add a ‘Gaussian blur’
To soften the edges of the snowflakes, click Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the blur radius to around 0.4px. Don’t worry if the snow is a funny size at this point - we’re going to resize it soon.

Photoshop snow tutorial guassian blur

Reduce the noise to create less snow
To add spacing to the snowflakes, we’ll be using a ‘Levels’ adjustment. It allows us to alter the light and dark areas of the image and, as we’re using a ‘Screen’ blending mode, anything dark will disappear. To add the adjustment, click Image>Adjustments>Levels. Drag the two outer sliders to change the effect of the snow. Experiment until you’re happy with the density of the falling snow.

Photoshop snow tutorial adjust levels

Turn your layer into a Smart Object

Locate the layer in the layers palette, right-click the name of the layer and select Convert to Smart Object. Making an object ‘Smart’ protects it from being distorted/damaged when changes are applied to it. Working in this way is ‘non-destructive’, meaning you’re free to change your mind without having to start again. It’s how the pros work, and a good habit to get into.

Photoshop snow tutorial smart object

Save your document somewhere safe. File>Save.

Add a Motion Blur
To make the snow look as though it was in motion when the shot was taken, add a Motion Blur. Click Filter>Blur>Motion Blur, and adjust the intensity and direction of the blur until you’re convinced it looks natural. Make sure Preview is ticked, so you can see your changes happening in real-time.

Photoshop snow tutorial adding motion blur

Resize your snow layer
Zoom out to give yourself some space - either hold the Alt(Option) key and scroll your mouse wheel to zoom out, or click the Zoom Tool(Z), hold Alt and Left-click to zoom out. Then select Edit>Free Transform (Ctrl+T/Command+T) to resize the snow layer. Drag the corners to resize, and hold Shift whilst dragging to stop the snow layer from changing shape. Resize until you feel convinced that you’re looking at the real deal. Press Return on the keyboard to set the image at your chosen size.

Photoshop snow tutorial resizing images

Rinse and repeat
Snow is looks better in layers - repeat steps 2 to 7 to add more layers of differing size and blur direction. Keep adding layers with different sizes and blur directions until you’re happy.

Photoshop snow tutorial final image

Share your work!
Show the world your creation. Share it here too! - we’d love to see how you get on. If you have any questions, just ask.


  • Increase the Gaussian Blur to increase the size of the snowflakes
  • Adjusting the Levels can have a big impact on the look of the snowflakes
  • Erase parts of the snow by ‘Rasterising’ the snow layer (Right-click the layer on the layers palette, and click Rasterise). Use the Eraser Tool to remove unwanted snowflakes
  • Try using Filter>Pixelate>Crystalize to create more effective large snowflakes


17 Dec 2014 18:43
Thanks for this! Wanted to do some snow effect and now I know how!
Charlotte Barrett
18 Dec 2014 13:45
Great to know how to do to make your own christmas cards etc.
Alison Vowles
06 Jan 2015 16:53
Thanks so much for sharing this. Unfortunately I'm too late for the xmas cards, but I'll give it ago ready for next year's ones.
12 Jan 2015 12:33
That was a great post, definitely going to bare this in mind to use it :)

Alex Wilkie
13 Jan 2015 14:51
Wish i had seen this earlier
14 Jan 2015 16:13
Make sure to #showitoff on our social channels if you did design some wonderful snow images, or if you want us to do a how too about a certain topic then get in touch and we will get to work!
25 Jan 2016 10:37
I'm a big fan of tutorials, excellent :).
01 Jun 2016 12:52
clever, useful tip

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