173. Create the Illusion of Snow or Rain
Before You Begin
92 Create a New Image Layer
110 About the Toolbox
123 Remove Scratches
154 Add Motion to an Image
174 Simulate a Water Reflection
With a graphics editor such as Photoshop Elements, you can improve the contrast, saturation, and sharpness of your images. But why stop at simply fixing reality when it's so easy to create believable illusions? For example, if a winter photograph is missing only a touch of snow to make it perfect, why not add some? And why scrap a gray, moody photograph just because it lacks the rain that might have made that day interesting? In this task, you'll learn how to create great photographscome rain or snow.
Add Snow Layer
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. Add the snow layer above the image layer by clicking the Create a new layer button on the Layers palette or choosing Layer, New, Layer from the menu. Name this layer Snow and fill it with black using the Paint Bucket tool.
To create rain instead of the snow effect described here, start with a suitably gloomy photo. Follow the same basic steps but when adding the noise, add less, around 70%. When blurring the rain, increase the Distance to about 60 pixels. Finally, to improve the effect, increase the contrast a bit.
To add snow quickly to a photograph, try the Blizzard effect. On the Styles and Effects palette, select Effects from the first drop-down list and Image Effects from the second. Double-click the Blizzard thumbnail to apply that effect. Although you don't have any control over the result, the effect is fairly nice.
You can add white dots for the snow with either the Add Noise or the Pointillize filter. With Add Noise, you get tinier flakes than with Pointillize. You might want to try both and compare the two images to see which one you like best. To add noise, choose Filter, Noise, Add Noise. The Add Noise dialog box appears. Enable both the Gaussian and Monochromatic options. Then increase the Amount slider until you get a fairly heavy snowfall. Click OK to apply the change.
To use the Pointillize filter instead of the Add Noise filter, choose Filter, Pixelate, Pointillize. The Pointillize dialog box appears. Adjust the Cell Size until the snowflakes (the white spaces between the black dots) are the size you want them to be. Click OK to accept your changes.
If you applied the Add Noise filter in step 2, add some wind to create randomness in the snow pattern; otherwise, skip this step. Choose Filter, Stylize, Wind. Enable the Wind method. Select a Direction and click OK.
Blur the Snow
Right now, the snowflakes look too sharp and clear to be real, so to create the illusion of gently falling snow, add a motion blur. Choose Filter, Blur, Motion Blur. The Motion Blur dialog box appears. Change the Angle to the direction in which you want the snow to fall. Set the Distance value to a low number to create softly falling snow; use a higher number if a blizzard is more desirable. Don't blur the snow so much that you can no longer distinguish the individual snowflakes. Click OK to apply your changes.
Change Blend Mode
To overlay your image with the newly created snow, on the Layers palette, change the Blend Mode for the Snow layer to Screen for a heavy downfall or Lighten for a very light snowfall.
To lessen the apparent amount of snow, adjust the contrast. Choose Enhance, Adjust Lighting, Brightness/Contrast. Then increase the Contrast slowly until you get the amount of snowfall you want. You can try decreasing the Brightness as well.
View the Result
After you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want and save the PSD image. Resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
The snowy scene was taken after a heavy snow hit our area last winter. The addition of falling snow adds to the peacefulness of the scene. As you can see, you definitely get different results when you use the Pointillize filter instead of the Add Noise filter.
The photo of the Korean Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C. was actually taken after a rain. But it was easy to add the rain back, following the steps in this task. The grayness of the day and the puddles on the sidewalk add realism to the rain effect. Keep that in mind when selecting a suitable photo for the addition of fake rain. Look for these images in the Color Gallery.