How do I cre­ate weather par­ti­cles such as rain or snow?

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Kather­ine Phelps, Eng­land

An­swer Bram replies

I would avoid us­ing a cus­tom brush to mimic fall­ing rain or snow, and in­stead move, scale and ro­tate lay­ers of par­ti­cles. Ask your­self how those par­ti­cles ap­pear in real life. For ex­am­ple, snow doesn’t ap­pear in a straight line in front of you, but in­stead falls over a large area. If you were to take a photo of it, there would be snowflakes close to the cam­era but also far away from it, re­sult­ing both in sharply de­fined flakes or more blurred forms.

I start by plac­ing my par­ti­cles above all other lay­ers and put a black layer be­hind them to see what I’m do­ing. My ap­proach is to paint a mid­dle layer of about 50 crisp snowflakes. I then du­pli­cate that layer sev­eral times and fill the can­vas up by ro­tat­ing and scal­ing them slightly.

I then merge my lay­ers, du­pli­cate the new layer, ap­ply Gauss­ian Blur, re­duce its Opac­ity to 50 per cent and scale it up about four times. I’ll of­ten erase some of the closer flakes, be­cause they can quickly get in the way of key ar­eas of the paint­ing.

I du­pli­cate the layer again, or en­large it if nec­es­sary. Once I’m happy, I delete the black layer and set the snow lay­ers to Screen mode. Voilà, a cosy win­ter won­der­land!

Try to keep your par­ti­cles on a sep­a­rate layer on top. This means you

can tog­gle them on and off at will.

Fly­ing sparks dif­fer in in­ten­sity. So in­stead of white snowflakes, cre­ate yel­low and or­ange stripes, du­pli­cate the layer, blur it, and blend us­ing Color Dodge.

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