In this tutorial we are going to create a winter scene in Photoshop and you will learn to use a range of tools and filters with this tutorial. This tutorial was made using Photoshop CS6 but is suitable for most of the Photoshop versions (CS and CC). You might also be interested in this Free Snow Action for Photoshop.
First get your image ready. I got this free image from Pixabay.com and you can get the exact image here. Pixabay is a great source for free images and if you yet haven’t signed up with them, you should. You can also choose another image that would be suitable for this project. From the size selection I selected the 3840px x 2160px sized photo.
Here you can see the before and after photo:
Step 1 – Add snow
Once you have your image open on Photoshop go to Select -> Color Range. Make sure that sampled colors is selected and select green part of the grass and see that the selection includes most of the grass as well the cabin roof. Once ready hit OK.
Next add a new layer (Shift + Ctrl + N) have the new layer selected and go to Edit -> Fill and select White under the Contents dropdown menu and make sure that the Opacity is 100% and Mode: Normal once ready hit ok.
If you feel that you don’t have enough “snow” you can repeat the above steps and go to Select -> Color Range and pick another spot with the sampling tool and fill it with white as well. To hide the shadow of the cabin I used Curves and hue/saturation adjustment layers, grouped them (Ctrl + G), added a layer mask and inverted the layer mask then painted over the shadow with a soft white brush. When brushing make sure the layer mask is selected.
Step 2 – Add Adjustment Layer
Next I added a cooling color filter (82) with the preset of 25% density. As you can see that some areas get a bit saturated and too blue so we are going to paint on the Photo Filter’s layer mask with soft white brush and paint over the saturated areas (over the mountains).
Step 3 – Create a Brush
Now the photo is evenly blue and already has a nice winter feel but to make it better we are going to add some snowflakes! In order to create snow we’ll need to create a brush. Go to File -> New or use the shortcut: Ctrl + N to create a new document. Set the Width and Height to 1000px x 1000px. We are going to add noise first so go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise. Set the amount to 200% Gaussian and Monochromatic and hit OK.
The noise is still too small so select the rectangle Marquee tool and draw an even square in the middle (hold Shift while dragging to make it even). Once you got your selection go to Layer -> New -> Layer via Copy (Ctrl + J). Delete the background layer and press Ctrl + T to transform and stretch the “noise square” to fit the document. Hold Shift down while dragging to keep the ratio.
Next we’ll need to go to Filter Gallery. From the Filter Gallery select Glowing Edges under the Stylize tab. Set the Edge Width to around 5-6, Edge brightness to around 5 and smoothness to 1, hit ok.
Now pick a white soft brush and brush around the edges. Then darken the flakes by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Levels and make the flakes darker and more visible, hit OK. Once you got them to your liking it’s time to turn this creation in to a brush. Everything black will be part of your brush, white will be invisible. To create the brush go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset.
Now that you have your brush saved go back to the winter image and add a blank layer. Select the brush that you just created, it will most likely be the last brush on the list. Open the brush panel Window -> Brush. Have the brush Tip Shape selected and adjust the Spacing to around 50%. Then go to Shape Dynamics and set the Angle Jitter to 100%. Lastly go to Scatter tab and adjust the Scatter to around 50%.
Step 4 – Add Snowflakes
Set the brush size to around 200-400px depending on how big your photo is. If you cannot see the snow when you are painting you can turn the brush color to black and once done brushing invert it (Ctrl + I) to white. Now that we’ve painted some snow we are going to blur them a bit with Gaussian Blur Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur let’s say about 0.5px.
Create a new layer and increase the brush size to 800px and add some snow. Instead of Gaussian Blur we are going to use Motion Blur Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. I set the angle to -60 and distance to 12px.
Once again create a new layer increase the brush size to 1200px and add some snow. We are going to add motion blur to this one as well but we are going to change the angle a little to -32 and distance to 8px.
We are going to do one more layer with this style so create a new layer increase the brush size to 1600px and add some snow and then add the motion blur. Lastly we are going to increase the brush size to 2000px and paint a some snowflakes in the middle then we are going to make them even bigger with the transform tool (Ctrl + T). So these flakes are the ones that are the closest to you so make them fit the part. Since they are suppose to be close we’ll need to blur them with Gaussian Blur. I set the radius to 9px.
That is all the snow that we are going to add and you can now select all the snowflake layers and group them and name the group snowflakes.
Step 5 – Finishing Touches
That is basically it and you can continue editing your image to make it even better. I added a white radial gradient over the mountains and used the High Pass filter to sharpen the image.
I hope you like the tutorial. Share your results in the comments!