Adding Snow To Photos With Pixelmator

Photographers love capturing snowy winter scenes, but oftentimes the resulting numbness and chill of actually standing outside in a snowstorm isn’t nearly worth the payoff of a snowy photo. Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, there is now a way to add blustery snow from the warm and comforting glow of your computer.

In the following tutorial, we’ll show you how to add lifelike snow to any photo using Pixelmator. If you don’t have the software yet, you can click the following link to download Pixelmator for free.

To create this effect, you’ll be creating two layers; one with haze, the other with the actual snowflakes. Snow doesn’t usually fall in the middle of a clear sky, so by adding a “haze” layer, you can create some atmosphere. Realistic-looking snow can be created with a deft touch and the right combination of Noise and Blur effects. You can add as much or a little snow as you want, but when we have tried, we always tend to err on the side of a lighter amount of snow rather than trying to re-create an epic blizzard.

We recommend repeating steps 6-10 a few times, varying your blur, pixel size, and noise to create a more random bunching for the snowflakes. You can then group the layers into a single snow layer, or work with each layer individually. Either way, you’ve just created flurries in your image using Pixelmator and a mouse!

  • Create a new layer, and using the Brush Tool, put a medium gray line over the middle of the picture.

  • Apply a Gaussian blur by going to Effects Browser > Blur > Gaussian Blur. We recommend about a 40-50 pixel blur.

  • Go to the Layers pallet and set the opacity to about 50%.

  • Stretch the haze upwards, beyond the top of the image.

  • With the Eraser Tool, erase the haze that is in front of the subject of your photo and any prominent points in the background. Remember, haze is a background effect, and shouldn’t obscure the subject of the photo.

  • Create a new layer, and fill it with black by selecting Edit > Fill.

  • Go to Effects Browser > Stylize > Noise and set the noise to about 40%, making sure you have monochrome checked.

  • Go to Effects Browser > Stylize > Gaussian Blur, and set your radius to just over a 1 pixel. The larger your blur radius, the bigger your snowflakes will be, so a lot of this look will be determined by how big and how hi-res your original photo is.

  • Go to Color Adjustments > Curves, and you can use this interface to adjust colors to make your snow look more realistic. Drag the different selection points around to see how it best reflects in your image.

  • The final touch is to add a little motion blur by selecting Layer > Blur > Motion Blur and set your radius to just about what you set your blur to, and choose an angle–we recommend about 55 degrees—and set the opacity to 70%.