Add snow effects in Photoshop

In this lesson you will learn how to turn any photos into a cold winter illustration in the style of white walkers from the series Game of Thrones. I will try to explain everything in as much detail as possible so that even beginners can get at least an amazing result in the end.

1. Create a document

To begin, open the photo with which we will work. To do this, go File – Open (File – Open). Customize the new document:

  1. snapshot must be in RGB mode, 8 bits/ channel (bit / channel). To check it, go Image – Mode (Image – Mode).
  2. For best results, the size of the photo should be in the range of 2000-4000 pixels in width / height. Check in the menu Image – Image Size (Image – Image size).
  3. Your photo should be a blocked background layer. If not, go to the menu Layer – New – Background from Layer (Layer – New – Background from the layer).

2. Cutting the object

Step 1

In this section, we will cut the model and transfer it to a separate layer. Activate Magic Wand Tool(W) (Magic Wand), install Tolerance (Tolerance) for 32 and left click on the white background. Then press Ctrl + Shift + I to invert the selection and select the model.

Step 2

Next, go Select – Modify – Smooth (Allocation – Modification – Smoothing) and set Sample Radius (Radius) by 5 pixels. Then Select – Modify – Contract (Allocation – Modification – Compress) and install Contract (Shrink) by 3 pixels. And finally, go Select – Modify – Feather (Allocation – Modification – Feather) and set Feather Radius (The radius of feathering) by 2 pixels.

Step 3

Press Ctrl + J to create a new layer according to the shape of the selection, call it “Model”.

3. Create glowing eyes

Step 1

In this section, we will replace the color of the eyes and make them luminous. Create a new layer Layer – New – Layer (Layer – New – Layer) and call it “Temporary”.

Step 2

Choose Brush Tool (B) (Brush), take a soft brush and paint over the iris of both eyes. Color is not important.

Step 3

Hold down the Ctrl key and click on the thumbnail of the layer with painted eyes to load its selection, then go to the “Model” layer and press the Ctrl + J keys to create a new layer according to the selection shape. After that, right-click on the “Temporary” layer and select Delete Layer (Remove layer).

Step 4

Now go Image – Adjustment – Hue/ Saturation (Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation), put a tick in front of Colorize (Toning), install Hue (Color tone) at 206, Saturation (Saturation) – by 82 and Lightness (Brightness) – at 21, as shown below:

Step 5

Change the blending mode of this layer to Linear Dodge (Linear clarifier), reduce Opacity (opacity) to 59% and call it “Glow eyes 1.”

Step 6

Next, go Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal All (Layer – Layer Mask – Show All) to add a white mask. Then set the foreground color to # 000000, activate Brush Tool (B) (Brush), take a soft brush and paint over the iris.

Step 7

Select the layer “Model”, create a new layer Layer – New – Layer (Layer – New – Layer) and call it “Glowing Eyes 2”.

Step 8

Set the foreground color to # 808080, activate Brush Tool (B) (Brush), take a soft brush and paint over the iris of the model’s eyes.

Step 9

Now go Image – Adjustment – Hue/ Saturation (Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation), put a tick in front of Colorize (Toning), install Hue (Color tone) at 206, Saturation (Saturation) – by 82 and Lightness (Brightness) – at 21, as shown below:

Step 10

Switch the blending mode of this layer to Color (Chromaticity).

Step 11

Press Ctrl + J to duplicate the current layer, call the copy “Glowing Eyes 3” and place it under the “Model” layer.

Step 12

Activate Lasso Tool (L) (Lasso) and create a selection around the left eye. Click on it with the right mouse button, select Free Transform (Free Transformation) and set Width (Width) by 200% and Height (Height) – 400%, as shown below:

Step 13

Press the key combination Ctrl + D to remove the selection. Then choose Lasso Tool (L), select the right eye, click on it with the right mouse button, select Free Transform (Free Transformation) and set Width (Width) by 200% and Height (Height) – 400%, as shown below:

Step 14

Press Ctrl + D to remove the selection, then go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) and set Radius (Radius) by 50 pixels as shown below:

Step 15

Decrease Opacity (opacity) of this layer by 84% and with the Shift key pressed, click on the “Luminous eyes 1” layer to select all the “luminous” layers. Then go Layer – New – Group from Layers (Layer – New – Group of layers) to group the selected layers. Call the resulting group “Glow eyes.”

4. Create a background and texture

Step 1

In this section, we will create a background and add texture to it. Select the background layer and go to Layer – New Fill Layer – Solid Color (Layer – Fill New Layer – Color), call the resulting layer “Background Color” and select black (# 000000), as shown below:

Step 2

Next we add a small light source behind the model. Press Ctrl + J to duplicate the current layer, and call it “Central light source”.

Step 3

Right click on this layer, select Blending Options (Overlay settings), in the opened window we activate the style Gradient Overlay (Overlay gradient) and customize it:

Step 4

Install Opacity (opacity) of this layer by 20%.

Step 5

Create a new layer Layer – New – Layer (Layer – New – Layer) and call it “Background Texture”.

Step 6

Press D to reset colors to standard and use Filter – Render – Clouds (Filter – Rendering – Clouds).

Step 7

Press Ctrl + T to activate the free transformation mode, and on the top panel set the width and height to 200%.

Step 8

Apply Image – Adjustments – Levels (Image – Correction – Levels) and apply the following settings:

Step 9

Set the layer opacity to 25%.

5. We modify the edges of the model

Step 1

In this section, we will refine the edges of the model so that it more accurately lies on the background. Select the layer “Model” and turn Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal All (Layer – Layer Mask – Show All) to add a white mask.

Step 2

Set the foreground color to black (# 000000), activate Brush Tool (B) (Brush), select a small soft brush and draw along the white borders on the model that remained from the background.

Step 3

We take a large soft brush and draw along the bottom of the model to add a smooth attenuation.

6. Create snow and fog

Step 1

In this section we will add snow and fog. Create a new layer Layer – New – Layer (Layer – New – Layer), call it “Snow 1” and move it to the very top of the layer panel.

Step 2

Set the foreground color to black (# 000000), go Edit – Fill (Edit – Run Fill) and in the appeared window set Contents (Content) on Foreground Color (Main color), Mode (Mode) – on Normal (Normal) and Opacity (Opacity) – 100%.

Step 3

Move on Filter – Noise – Add Noise (Filter – Noise – Add noise), set Amount (Effect) at 100% and Distribution (Distribution) – on Uniform (Uniform). Put a tick in front Monochromatic (Monochrome), turn Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) and set Radius (Radius) by 2 pixels as shown below:

Step 4

Now go Image – Adjustments – Curves (Image – Correction – Curves) and enter the following settings:

Step 5

Press Ctrl + T and set the width and height to 200%, as shown below:

Step 6

Now go Filter – Blur – Motion Blur (Filter – Blur – Blur in motion), set Angle (Angle) at 45 and Distance (Offset) – by 10.

Step 7

Switch the layer blending mode to Screen (Lightening).

Step 8

Next, add a new layer. Layer – New – Layer (Layer – New – Layer), call it “Snow 2” and on the layers panel we place it immediately below the layer “Snow 1”.

Step 9

Set the foreground color to black (# 000000), go Edit – Fill (Edit – Run Fill) and in the appeared window set Contents (Content) on Foreground Color (Main color), Mode (Mode) – on Normal (Normal) and Opacity (Opacity) – 100%.

Step 10

Move on Filter – Noise – Add Noise (Filter – Noise – Add noise), set Amount (Effect) at 100% and Distribution (Distribution) – on Uniform (Uniform). Put a tick in front Monochromatic (Monochrome), turn Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) and set Radius (Radius) by 2 pixels as shown below:

Step 11

Now go Image – Adjustments – Curves (Image – Correction – Curves) and enter the following settings:

Step 12

Press the key combination Ctrl + T and set the width and height to 200%.

Step 13

Press Ctrl + A to select the entire working canvas, and go Layer– Layer Mask – Reveal Selection (Layer – Layer Mask – Show Selected Area) to add a mask to the shape of the selected area.

Step 14

Click the right mouse button on the mask and select Apply Layer Mask (Apply a layer mask). Press the key combination Ctrl + T and on the top panel set the width and height to 500%.

Step 15

Next, apply Filter – Blur – Motion Blur (Filter – Blur – Blur in motion), set Angle (Angle) at 60 and Distance (Offset) – by 50.

Step 16

Change layer blend mode to Screen (Lightening). Then go Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal All (Layer – Layer Mask – Show All) to add a white mask. After that, press the D key to reset the colors to standard, and X to swap them (the white color should become the main color). Apply Filter – Render – Clouds (Filter – Rendering – Clouds).

Step 17

Now go Image – Auto Toone (Image – Autoton), then apply Image – Adjustments – Levels (Image – Correction – Levels) and enter the following settings:

Step 18

On the panel Window – Properties (Window – Properties) install Density (Density) mask by 60%.

Step 19

Now we repeat the steps for the next layer with snow. Select the layer “Snow 1”, go Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal All (Layer – Layer Mask – Show All) to add a white mask. After that we apply Filter – Render – Clouds (Filter – Rendering – Clouds).

Step 20

Now go Image – Auto Toone (Image – Autoton), then apply Image – Adjustments – Levels (Image – Correction – Levels) and enter the following settings:

Step 21

On the panel Window – Properties (Window – Properties) install Density (Density) mask by 60%.

Step 22

Next we will create a fog. Add a new layer Layer – New – Layer (Layer – New – Layer), call it “Fog” and on the layers panel place it under the layer “Snow 2”.

Step 23

Press the D key to reset the colors to standard, and apply the filter Filter – Render – Clouds (Filter – Rendering – Clouds).

Step 24

Now press Ctrl + T and set the width and height to 200%, as shown below:

Step 25

Change layer blend mode to Screen (Lightening) and reduce the opacity to 45%.

Step 26

Move on Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal All (Layer – Layer Mask – Show All) to add a white mask. Set the foreground color to black (# 000000), activate Brush Tool (B) (Brush), select a small soft brush and draw over the model’s face to remove fog in this area.

Step 27

On the panel Window – Properties (Window – Properties) install Density (Density) mask by 60%.

7. Add the final touches

Step 1

In this section, we will add final touches in the form of several adjustment layers. Select the layer “Snow 1” and turn Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Color Balance), we call the correction layer “Color Correction”.

Step 2

Double click on the thumbnail of the adjustment layer and on the panel Properties (Properties) we enter the following settings:

Step 3

Move on Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Vibrance (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Juiciness) and call the adjustment layer “Total Saturation”.

Step 4

Double click on the thumbnail of the adjustment layer and on the panel Properties (Properties) we enter the following settings:

Step 5

Hold down the Ctrl key and click on the thumbnail of the Glow Eyes 2 layer, set the foreground color to black (# 000000), then go Edit – Fill (Editing – Fill). In the window that opens, install Contents (Content) on Foreground Color (Main color), Blending (Mode) – on Normal (Normal) and Opacity (Opacity) – 100%.

Step 6

Press the D key to reset the colors to standard and X to swap them (the white color should be the main color). Then go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Gradient Map (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Gradient Map) and create a new adjustment layer, which we call “Total Contrast”.

Step 7

Change the blending mode of this layer to Soft Light (Soft light) and reduce the opacity to 40%.

Step 8

Now press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E to merge all visible layers on a separate new layer, then press Ctrl + Shift + U to discolor this layer. Next, apply the filter Filter – Other – High Pass (Filter – Other – Color Contrast) and set Radius (Radius) by 2 pixels.

Step 9

Change the blending mode of this layer to Hard Light (Hard Light) and call it “Sharp Sharpness.”

Done!

Congratulations, you have completed the lesson! Here is the final version:

If you want to create a more interesting effect with animated snow and fog, then the author prepared the action Snow Walker (for a fee).

Author: Marko Kozokar

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