Adding Falling Snow, Part 3 – It’s Snowing!

Finally, we’ve come to the post where we actually make

Animated falling snow – like this


Winter Wonderland


Part 3 – Animating falling snow

This post builds on –

Part 1 – Creating snow using Photoshop

Part 2 – Creating sets of images to be used for GIF Animation


Starting points –

1. Choose image p1050011

2. And snow  Snow Template

Note – The snow image is larger than the image of the scene

This allows us to use a single (saved) snow image over & over

As long as it’s larger than the resolution of the scene

In this case, scene = 800 x 533 & snow = 2000 x 2000

(They’re not shown to scale above)


We use the two image files above as follows –

1. Open the scene image in Photoshop

2. Add the snow image as a layer above the scene

3. Change the blend mode for the layer to Screen

This makes the layer’s black area disappear, as we want

 1-4-2013 12-42-47 PM


Back to that over-sized snow image. Why do that??

1. It saves having to make a snow image many, many times

2. PS’s noise filter gives an identical noise pattern every time

If you needed 10 snow images & made them individually

They’d all be the same

Nothing would move when animated

A snow image larger than the scene (background)

Can be positioned (dragged) wherever desired

Each new position provides a different scene since

Only the part overlaying the background is visible

3. Changing the blend mode to make the snow more visible (black) in the two images below –

Illustrates the effect of moving the snow layer relative to the scene

Practically speaking the bottom location wouldn’t be used

Just for show

Practically speaking (again) the upper image shows one of

Almost countless snow locations

Each of which generates a different composite image

1-4-2013 1-08-08 PM 1-4-2013 12-50-43 PM

4. Bottom line – Make a good snow template once (mine needs work)

and reuse it any time snow is needed


Creating a set of images for use in an Animated GIF program

OK – we’ve got our two files open in PS. Now what?

Tedium sets in (a good place for a PS action)

We decide how many images we want for our animation set

And we make them

Just how do we make those images (I made 20 for the barn scene)?

We simply re-position the snow 20 times (saving each)

That’s all?? Then why does this image look different?

barn random

Because the snow was moved more or less randomly

Each successive position should relate to the previous


What I did for each snow location was –

Nudge the snow layer a “wee bit” from its previous spot

How much is a nudge?

Depends on image pixel sizes. Experiment

By the way, unless you want snow dropping straight down

Nudge a left/right as well as down

How do you nudge (precisely)?

Use the keyboard’s arrow keys

For this image I did 12 down & 3 left between each location

Did I mention tedious??? 😉

Be careful with the nudge directions.

The motion illusion may end up backwards

barn backward

This isn’t a big problem as

It is fixed in the animation program by reversing image order

Some programs will even do this for you with a click


A final thought – motion “jump’ when animation restarts

This was mentioned in part 2

The problem is caused when the final image (snow in this case)

Is a poor match to the initial image

Since the “restart” means going from the last to the 1st

If they’re too dissimilar there will be a “jump”

For images like today’s (vs. simple bouncing balls)

I don’t think there is a perfect solution

What I tried today for the first time was

Adjusted the snow layer’s opacity

Image #1 – 60%, #2 – 70%, #3 – 80%, #4 – 90%

Images #5-16 were 100%

Images #17-20 took it back to 60% in 10% steps

Starting and ending opacity can be played with

This doesn’t eliminate the basic mismatch of snow flake location

It just makes it less noticeable by reducing contrast

Top barn – constant opacity; Bottom – adjusted opacity

Jump occurs every 5 seconds

barn jump barn correct


The stationary scene with snow is only one possibility.

Later – animated falling snow with a scene that also moves

Sorry about the length of this post

And to think I originally planned all 3 parts as a single post 😦


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