Animated Snow in Photoshop

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.


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  • Rita Odle December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Thank You for the tutorial!

  • Yobeth Puckett December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Great idea and tutorial, Judie.

  • Kelly Rinker December 1, 2017   Reply →

    I agree, what a great idea to use on a page. Can’t wait to try it. Looking forward to an awesome December!

  • Ivon December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Wow amazing .

  • Loreta Labarca December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Wonderful tuto and freebies. Thanks soooo much to everyone.

  • Cherry December 1, 2017   Reply →

    I love the tutorial! This is fantastic! And thank you for the freebie!

  • Zani December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Great tutorial! And many thanks for the Winter Magic!

  • Cindy December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Thank you for the tutorial and the cool freebies!

  • Carrie (carrie1977) December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Awesome tutorial! Can’t wait to try it out (hopefully I can get it to work in PSE!)!


  • Lis December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Thank you for the tutorial and the gorgeous freebies!!

  • Christa File December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Awesome tutorial.. reminds me of Harry Potter photos.. definitely on my to do list for this weekend! Love this Judie, and what an exquisite collab this is. The three parts here are fabulous.. plus I love your page! Thanks Judie!!

  • Su Hall December 1, 2017   Reply →

    How fun! Great tutorial! O often wondered why more folks didn’t do more animations in their dig-layouts. Cool!
    Thank you, everyone, for all the pretties!

  • Pam K December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Great tutorial — & Winter Magic is so beautiful!!! thanks for sharing it!

  • Sandy_in_MD December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Thank you for the awesome tutorial! I can’t wait to give it a try. And many thanks to the designers for their lovely Winter’s Magic contributions.

  • kandib December 1, 2017   Reply →

    Wonderful tutorial! The Winter Magic collection is beautiful, can’t wait to collect the pieces and view all the upcoming tutorials.

  • Lynn December 1, 2017   Reply →

    beautiful , thank you!

  • Winnie December 2, 2017   Reply →

    This is so neat! Thank you for sharing the idea and the tut. Wonderful! Oh look at that freebie collab! <3 <3 <3 Love! Happy Holidays ladies!

  • Priscilla December 2, 2017   Reply →

    This kit is gorgeous! Can’t wait to collect it all. Thanks so much. Thanks for the tutorials too.

  • AnikA December 2, 2017   Reply →

    thanks so much for this amazing freebie and tutorial

  • Nika Diep December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks you so much for kit so awesome 🙂 and so beautiful

  • miss becki December 2, 2017   Reply →

    This kit will be gorgeous, and I love all three parts post above. Thank you so much, ladies! 🙂

  • R.B December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Thank You All For The Time & Effort Put Into This Tutorial & That Kit Is Just Magical What A Stunner Arnt We Lucky To Have You Generous Designers Collab For Us Bless You All Hugs :)X

  • Vivi / Nemla December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Thank you so much, both for the tutorial and the kit. It is very much appreciated.

    • Christa File December 5, 2017   Reply →

      🙂 So glad you are enoying Vivi! Don’t forget Monday, Wednesday & Friday during December!

  • Joy December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Love this idea! Thanks for the tutorial. And thank you for the Winter is Magic kit. The colors are beautiful. Hope you all have a magical December!

  • Graciela December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks for the tutorial and the beautiful freebies. Have a magical December!

  • JenL December 2, 2017   Reply →

    That was incredible! Yet one more reason for me to upgrade to full photoshop! Thank you for putting together another mega kit! It looks stunning!

  • Karen December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Thank you so much for the tutorial and incredible freebies!

  • fl_connie December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks so much for the great tutorial – and for these three amazing downloads for this mega kit!

  • Donna P. December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Beautiful! Thanks so much!

  • Tammy Espino December 2, 2017   Reply →

    This is an amazing kit!! Thank you so much!

  • Ricki December 2, 2017   Reply →

    Thank you for the super Tutorial and the wonderful gifts!

  • Lori Bickford December 2, 2017   Reply →

    I LOVE this!!!! I use PSE 2018, and I could only get to step 9 (with PERFECT instructions, thank you!!!!) but I’m a very new PSE user (although I’ve scrapped for over 15yrs with Artisan) and I don’t see how to do the directions from step 10. Is this next part only possible in PS CC?

    • GuruAmma December 5, 2017   Reply →

      I too am using PSE 2018 and could only get to step 9. I have tried twice from scratch to no avail. I wonder what we are missing. I was hoping someone else caught it and I could find some answers here in the comments. It is SUCH a great idea.

      • Lori Bickford December 5, 2017   Reply →

        I’m hoping someone is able to help us!!

        • GuruAmma December 10, 2017   Reply →

          After hours of playing. I figured out step 10, to find out that PSE does not support the animation part.

          So here goes step 10. – On the layers tab where it says normal, change it to overlay, then add your pattern from the preset manager (under edit) It should be labeled snow. If necessary, change your opacity, but your picture will still be dark (from the dark-gray background), I then changed it to guided mode to lighten the picture up, but still keep the effect.

          But, after all that, I realized that PSE doesn’t have a timeline option as it states when you start the animation part. ;(

          Hope this helps.

          • Courtney December 25, 2017  

            PSE can make gifs though! IN fact, gifs in PSE are easier than Photoshop. I noticed no one has answered this, so let me see if I can get a tutorial for PSE!

  • Sonya December 2, 2017   Reply →

    That is so cool! I’m going to try it. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • willimena December 3, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks for the comprehensive tutorial and to the designers for the gorgeous freebies!

  • Jennifer Papadimitriou December 3, 2017   Reply →

    learned something new! Hopefully I can figure it out in Elements! lol Thanks! and thanks for the freebies!

  • Ann December 3, 2017   Reply →

    What a great tutorial!! Thank you so much, can’t wait to try it. Thanks to the Designers for their generosity for making these freebies available to us.

  • Jodie December 4, 2017   Reply →

    I am loving this technique and just tried it out. I got the snow falling effect, but it is crazy fast. Is there a way to slow it down?

  • Lorie December 4, 2017   Reply →

    Thank you to the designers for your generous contributions to the kit and the teachers for all your hard work on the tutorials!

  • Ginger December 4, 2017   Reply →

    That is the sweetest little snowgirl I’ve ever seen! Thank you for everything!

  • Sherry Pennington December 4, 2017   Reply →

    Awesome tut and freebies !! Thank you 🙂

  • Jessica December 5, 2017   Reply →

    Thank you for this amazing tutorial and collab! I have made animated GIFs in my day but I didn’t know you could make them with Photoshop so easily. Always love a good snow effect! Thanks again!

  • Bev Cavera December 6, 2017   Reply →

    I do not think this works for PSE . Am I correct?

  • Nana Kat December 7, 2017   Reply →

    Blessings an many thanks for this gift , Merry Christmas ,hugs Nana Kat

  • katy December 8, 2017   Reply →

    Thank you for great tuto and so beautiful kits !

  • Shirley Kimbrough December 10, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks to everyone for their fabulous contributions. The color scheme is fantastic and so versatile. Thanks also for the accompanying tutorials. I haven’t made an animation layout since Jasc PSP 7, years ago. This is the first time I have seen a Photoshop tutorial for this. I am using PSE 15, and hope it has the capability to complete this tutorial. Hugs to all. 🙂

  • Micheline Lachance December 13, 2017   Reply →

    thank you for the tuto and fabulous freebies.

  • Carol December 19, 2017   Reply →

    I Love you guys! You don’t just dazzle us with incredible layouts and free gifts – you TEACH as you go. There is so much here you just have to keep coming back! Thank YOU!!!

  • Courtney December 25, 2017   Reply →

    Ok, for the Photoshop Element users I recreated the effect. (I used PSE14 but I know the steps work in 11, and I would guess they work in 2018 since it’s more recent? But I can’t confirm higher).

    Follow the steps through Step 9. If you need help with Step 9 and the fill opacity, Tiffany has a tutorial here:
    Step 10: Create a new layer. Change the layer to Screen. Select the pattern stamp. Uncheck the aligned box option in your pattern toolbox. You do not want the pattern to align or your snow won’t move. Use the pattern stamp to stamp the snowflake pattern you created above on the layer.
    Duplicate your photo. Merge the snow layer to your photo. At this point, you have 2 layers – 1 photo, and 1 photo with snow.
    Repeat Step 10 for as many layers as you want (I choose 5). The last time you do not need to duplicate your photo. Your snow should be in different spots on each photo layer.
    Step 11: Go to Save for Web. In the second drop down box, choose gif. Then in the third check box option is “Animate”. Check that.
    Once Animate is checked, the lower Animation options in the box are available. Change looping to forever. I left the frame delay at 0.2 seconds. You can press play, and see how changing the frame affects the snow falling. The frame delay is telling you how long to show each frame (layer) before changing to the next one. Save your gif, and scrap as you’d like with it.

    • Lori Bickford December 26, 2017   Reply →

      AWESOME!!!! Thank you Courtney, I’m going to give this a go right now!!!

    • melodie January 1, 2018   Reply →

      I was able to create the animation in PSE11, but ‘export’ was not an option for saving the file.

      • Courtney Muir January 2, 2018   Reply →

        Under File there is an option for “save for web.” Try that one?

  • Jennifer Moore January 4, 2018   Reply →

    What a fun idea! Thank you.

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