Creating Animated Snow in Photoshop
Welcome to December on the Scrapaneers blog! Today we are kicking off a month filled with fabulous creative tutorials, some surprise guests and a free and FABulous collaboration called Winter Magic. Join us every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in December to collect all the Winter Magic downloads and learn some digital tips and tricks along the way. I am kicking things off with a fun tutorial for creating animated (falling) snow on your digital pages. Ready to get started? Then come on in and join me . . .
I have to admit that I totally love Winter – the cold weather, the snow and all the amazing holidays that occur between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. There is just something special in the air during the winter season! One of my favorite things about winter is the sight of falling snow. It is so majestic and comforting. Although you can photograph the moment and “freeze” the snow as it falls, you lose something of the mood with static photographs. Luckily, digital programs like Photoshop provide a method for artfully recreating the sight and soulful feel of falling snow.
Want to see what it looks like? Here is my original layout (created with the “Oh so awesome” Winter Magic collaboration):
And here is the layout with the animated snow effect:
The process for creating a layout like this is less complicated than you might think. In the steps below, I walk you through how I created this effect in Photoshop CC.
Part 1: Create the Snow
1. Start with a photo the size you want it to be on your layout. I sized my photo to 72 dpi | 600 x 400 pixels.
2. Create a new blank layer above the photo with the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the layers palette. Add a light-medium gray color fill to this layer.
3. Add some noise to the layer with Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Set the amount of noise to 220% with a Gaussian distribution and check Monochromatic.
4. Now add a 2 pixel Gaussian Blur filter to the snowflake layer.
5. Add a Levels adjustment to the snowflakes layer (CTRL > L). Set the Left to 150 and the right to 175 (or adjust to your liking). The white flecks are the snowflakes we will be animating.
6. Once the levels adjustment is complete, offset the pattern with Filter > Other > Offset. Adjust the vertical setting to +100.
7. The offset filter will add a faint horizontal line across the layer. You can delete this line with the spot healing brush tool. Run the brush over the area around the line until it disappears and you only have random snowflakes.
8. Now you will define the Snowflake pattern with Edit > Define Pattern. When the dialogue box pops up, name the pattern Snow and save it. Once the pattern has been defined you can delete the snowflake layer.
9. Create a new layer above the photo and fill it with a solid color (I filled mine with white, but any color is fine). Change the Fill Opacity to 0%.
10. Now add a pattern overlay to the new layer and select the snow pattern that you created in Step 9 from the dialogue box. Set the blend mode to Screen and the opacity to 100%.
Now you should see snow on your photo! You can stop here if you want a static snowfall effect. Or you can animate the snow, as I describe in Part 2, below.
Part 2: Animate the Snow
1. Start by changing the name of the layer we created in Step 10 above to “Snowflakes” – this will make it easier to see in the Timeline box. Now, open up the Timeline box (Window > Timeline) and choose Create Video Timeline.
2. Click on the arrow next to the Snowflakes layer on the left-hand side of the Timeline box and then click on the clock next to the Style later.
3. Now, move the blue cursor from the left side over to the five second mark.
4. Double click on the Pattern Overlay style in the main layers palette. After the dialogue box pops up, grab the snow on the photo and drag it from the top to the bottom of the photo three times. Now click OK on the Pattern Overlay dialogue box to close it out.
You can play the animation by pressing on the space bar or clicking the play button in the upper left hand corner of the Timeline box. And now you should see the magic of falling snow!
Part 3: Add the Animation to your Layout
1. Now that you have created the animated snow photo, you can add it to a layout. First change the layout size from 300 dpi to 72 dpi, but leave the layers unmerged. Now go to the animated photo file and select all the layers and then right click on one of them and choose “Convert to Smart Object” in the pop-up menu.
2. Now, you can move the animated photo to the layout by dragging it up to the layout file at the top of the workspace, hover over the layout file name, then drop the animated photo onto the layout when it appears in the workspace. To preserve the animation, you will need to save the layout as a GIF. You can do this in Photoshop by choosing File > Export > Save for Web.
In the pop up menu, choose GIF format and be sure to set the looping option to “forever” so that the snow will continuously fall.
Here is another look at my animated layout (created primarily with the the three Winter Magic contributions available below):
Until next time ~
The Winter Magic Giveaway
Drum roll, please!!!! And now for the grand reveal of the Scrapaneers December 2017 Giveaway – Winter Magic.
On behalf of everyone at Scrapaneers, I want to thank all the amazing designers who contributed to this Mega Collection. Winter Magic is perfect for your winter and holiday photos, but it also has an amazing color palette that is fitting for memorializing those everyday moments too. Ready for a peek at what you can collect during the month of December?
Winter Magic downloads are no longer available.