How to Create Snow In A Photograph Using Photoshop

Above, I have a photograph of a deer that I took in my backyard. It had already snowed the day before, so there’s snow on the ground. I’d like to add falling snow to this photograph to make it more interesting:

The first thing I’ll do is hit CTRL+J on my keyboard to make a duplicate copy of my image. Then I’ll call it “Overcast Background”. I’ll double click on the word “Layer 1″ to rename it:

The next thing I’ll do is to give the photograph a feeling of an overcast snowy day. I can see the sun on the branches behind the deer so I’ll dull it down by going into Selective Color. Go to Image, Adjustments, Selective Color:

The Selective Color dialog box will come up. Looking at the photo I can see that the color red is the color I need to tone down. These are the setting I used for the reds. Before I click OK, I’ll make some adjustments to the “Yellow” colors too. Then I’ll click OK:



Now it’s time to add the falling snow. I’ll make a new layer at the bottom of the layers palette, and fill it with black. To fill the layer with black I’ll make sure that the foreground color in the color picker is black, and then I’ll hit ALT-DELETE on my keyboard to fill the layer with black. This is how everything should look at this point:

Now I want to add specks to the image. So I’ll go to Filter, Noise, Add Noise:

Here the Add Noise dialog box comes up. For this image I’ll set the Amount to 100, Distribution to Gaussian, and it’s very important to check the Monochromatic box at the bottom. If I didn’t, I’d be able to see a lot of colored artifacts in the specks. Check the box on and off to see for yourself. Then click OK:

The next thing I want to do is blur the specks. I’ll go to Filter, Blur, Blur More:

There are too many specks. To get rid of some of them I’ll go to Image, Adjustments, Levels:

Here the Levels dialog box comes up. These are the settings I used. Then I’ll click OK:

To get rid of the black and only leave the white specks, I’ll go to the layers palette and look at the area where it says “Normal”. This will bring up the blending modes. I’ll click on the “Screen” mode:

Here is what the photo looks like so far:

Now it’s time to add some motion to the snow to make it look more realistic. I’ll go to Filter, Blur, Motion Blur:

The Motion Blur dialog box will open up. I’ll set the Angle to -65 and the Distance to 7. Then I’ll click OK:

The next thing I’ll do is make a duplicate layer. I’ll go to, Layer, Duplicate Layer. When the dialog box comes up I’ll click OK:



The next thing I’ll do is make the snow look like it’s falling downward. I’ll go to Edit, Transform, Rotate 180°:

Then I’ll go to Edit, Free Transform:

When I’m in Free Transform, I’ll go to the top tool bar and click on the lock to maintain the aspect ratio. I’ll make the Width 200% and the Height will follow at 200% because I clicked the lock. I’ll click on the check to accept the transform:

Here is the photo and palettes at this point. Almost finished:

The next thing I’ll do is go to Filter, Pixelate, Crystallize. This will make some of the snowflakes bigger than others, for a more realistic look:

The Crystallize dialog box will come up. I’ll make the Cell Size 16. Then I’ll click OK:

The next thing I’ll do is take the eraser tool at a low opacity and clear away some of the snow around the deer face and a little at the bottom of the photo:

When I clean up with the eraser tool, I go from “Layer 1 copy” to “Layer 1″, because they both have snow. Here is what the Layers Palette should look like:

The last thing I’ll do is blur the “Layer 1 copy” just one more time. I’ll keep the same setting as before, when the Motion Blur dialog box comes up. Then I’ll click OK:



Here is the before and after:


How to Give a Photograph a Painterly Look Using Photoshop

Above is a photograph of a car that I recently took at a car show in Westchester. I’d like to give it a painterly look, so here’s how I’m going to do it.

The first thing I do is open the photo in Photoshop. Then I’ll go to Shadow/Highlight. The reason I do this is to open up the shadows, which helps create the painterly look:

Here are the settings I use. I’ll bring up the Shadow amount to 20 and the Highlight to 5. Then I’ll click OK:

The next thing I’ll do is go to Filter/Noise/Dust & Scratches:

I’ll bring the Radius slider to 24 and the Threshold to 37. These are the settings that I think look good for this photo. A different photo might need a little more or a little less with each slider. Here you see that the photo has transformed into a painterly look already:

The next thing I’ll do is add some noise. So I’ll go to Filter/Noise/Add Noise:

Here I’ll set the amount to 14.0 and keep the distribution set to Uniform. I’ll also uncheck the Monochromatic box at the bottom of the Add Noise box. Then I’ll click OK:

In the next step I’ll equalize the photo. So, I’ll go to Image/Adjustments/Equalize:

Here you can see the photo come to life. What I’ll do next is set the history marker in the history palette to the step before “equalize”:

Then I’ll use the History Brush to go back one step and darken the background around the yellow car. The yellow car is the main subject and I want it to stand out:

I’ll use the History Brush at 100% Opacity, and a 40% feather on the brush. On the tool bar at the top of the page, I’ll click on the triangle that’s pointing down to open up the brush options:

Then I’ll be able to see all the brush options and the different selections of brushes. Here I have the brush hardness set to 40%. The Master Diameter is just the size of the brush:

Here are the before and after images:

Have fun and experiment with all the sliders. If you don’t want any noise in your photo, just leave out that step. If you want more of the painterly look, just increase the Radius slider in the Dust & Scratch menu.

Simple Way to Get Rid of Noise using Photoshop

Above is a photo of a black cap chick that I took the other day. It was very overcast and the lighting wasn’t good at all, but I decided to take the shot anyway. It’s very grainy because I had the ISO on my camera set to 800 and the lighting conditions were poor.

What I’ll do is hit CTRL-J on my keyboard to make a duplicate layer. It will be called “Layer 1″. Just double click on the word and change it to whatever you’re working on. I’m going to call my layer “Bird”.

The next thing I’ll do is go to Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur.

The dialog box for the Gassian Blur will come up. You don’t need to get crazy with the blur, unless you have a lot of distractions in the background. In this case, I just want to get rid of the noise behind the bird where it’s most obvious. Here I set the blur to 4.0. When you’ve decided how much blur is good for your photo, then click OK.

Now it’s time to put a mask on the “Bird” layer. Using the mask will make it easier to bring back the sharpness into the bird and still keep the noiseless background untouched.

I’ll then click on the mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette. You’ll see the mask box appear in the “Bird” layer.

Now all I have to do is paint back the parts of the photo that should be sharp. Make sure that you click on the mask box in the layer to make it active. You’ll see a border go around the small white box when it’s active.

I’ll start painting with a black brush to bring out the original image. If you make a mistake and paint the wrong thing, no problem. Switch to the white brush to bring back the blurred layer.

Don’t forget you have total control over the brush. You can lower the “Opacity” of the brush while you’re working. Then you can bring back some of the original image. For example, when I brought back the branch the bird is standing on, I used 50% opacity. The main focus is the bird. I don’t want a blurry branch, but at the same time I don’t want the graininess of the branch to pull the viewers eye away from the bird.

The opacity brush is located on the tool bar at the top of your screen when you are using the brush.

When you are finished you can save the layers as a .psd file, or you can flatten the layer by going to Layer, Flatten Image.

Here are the before and after images. You don’t want what you’ve done to be obvious; you want it to be subtle. If you overdo the blur, your photo will looked worked on and you don’t want that.

Here I zoomed in closer to the backgrounds so that you can see the difference between the before and after. You can definitely see the difference between the two. The original photo on the top is very grainy and the fixed one under it isn’t grainy.

Try this with some of your photos and see how it works for you.

How to Create Motion in an Image

Above is the finished product of this tutorial.

Here I have an image of some children playing soccer. I used a fast shutter speed while taking this image, to freeze the action. At this point I think I’d like to put some motion into the image:

The first thing I do is drop the image into Photoshop. I’ll make a selection around the boy who is ready to kick the ball. He’s the main focus of this image. To make the selection I’ll use the lasso tool in the tool bar:

When I make the selection around the boy, I’ll make sure to feather the selection so that the boy doesn’t look selected with a hard edge. To feather the selection, I go to Select / Modify / Feather:

For this image I think I’ll feather at 45 pixels. Then I click OK:

The next thing I need to do is to inverse the selection. Right now the boy is selected. I need to have everything around the boy selected. This is why I’m going to inverse the selection. I’ll go to Select / Inverse:

Then I’ll go to Filter / Blur / Motion Blur:

This is where you have to decide how much motion blur you want. For this image I think I’ll use a motion blur of 171 pixels and keep the “Angle” at 0. I make sure the preview box is checked in the Motion Blur dialog box. Then I click OK:

On my keyboard, I hit the keys CTRL-D to deselect the selection. For any reason you see something else in the image that you wish you didn’t blur, you can always go to the history brush and bring it back.

Here I decided to bring back the ball, but not 100%. I’ll go to the history brush and I’ll also make sure the history is marked off (the little paintbrush next to the Open step in the image, below) in the History Palette to the point I want to go back:


Here I’m going to bring the opacity of the history brush to 35%. I brush the ball to see how I like how it comes out. If I want to see more of the soccer ball, then I just brush over it again:

Here’s the finished image:

Have fun!

How to Blur a Background to Get Rid of Distractions

Above is the result of this tutorial.

Here’s an image of a butterfly that I had taken a while back. I like the way the butterfly came out but I’m not happy with the rest of the image. The leaf on the left keeps catching my eye and the overall feel of the image is just too busy.

Time to make some changes:

The first thing I do is to bring the image into Photoshop. Here I’ll select the butterfly and the flower that the butterfly is on. The reason I’ll keep the flower in focus too, is that the flower is in the same depth of field as the butterfly. If I should blur the flower too, the image will have an unnatural look. You don’t want your photo to look like it was worked on. So, keep in mind your depth of field.

On your keyboard hit Ctrl+J. This will make a copy of your image. You want to make a copy of the original image so that you can add a layer mask to it. This is where you’ll be doing all of your work:

Make sure the copy “layer 1” is selected. The layer should be highlighted in blue. Click on the layer mask icon at the bottom of your layers palette:

I always label my layers because if you work on a project and have a lot of layers it can get very confusing which layer belongs to what. So, I’ve made it a habit, even though this project will only require one.

To rename the layer you double click the word “Layer 1” in the layer copy. You’ll see a box appear around the word “Layer 1”. Then type in what works for you. I’m going to type in the word “Mask”:

Now you’re ready to start working. In the mask layer make sure that the picture on the layer is selected just by clicking on it once. You do this because this is the layer you want to blur. The next thing you do is go to the Filter menu on the tool bar at the top of your screen.

Click Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur:

Here is where the Gaussian Blur dialog box will open up. For the image you’re working on you’ll have to decide how much of a blur you want. Play with the radius slider. The smaller the number the less of a blur you’ll get. The higher the number the stronger the blur effect will be. See the difference between 2.1 and 50. There’s a huge difference. Usually I don’t go higher than 10, but in this case I think I’ll go with a high blur to just get rid of all of the distractions:

When you’ve decided how much blur you want, click OK.

Here is where the layer mask comes in. On the layer, make sure that you click on the mask that’s the white box in the layer mask layer. Just click it once to make it active. You can see when it becomes active, it gets a little border frame around it.

The next thing you’ll do is select a paint brush. Go to the tools palette and select a brush:

To bring back the butterfly through the blur you’ll have to paint it back. Before I start painting the butterfly back I make sure that the foreground color is black, and the background color is white:

Start painting with the brush. You’ll see the image underneath come out. Do this slowly and with an opacity of about 50. You can make the opacity stronger when you work on the center of the object, but working on the edges I’d use less of an opacity to blend it into the background. Make sure the brush itself is at an opacity of about 20%:

Here is the work in progress:

Here are the before and after images:

Try it for yourself and have fun.

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