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Photoshop: Snow Heart

Valentines Day is less than a month away, and you’re probably already looking to create some sort of Valentine’s related design.

If you guys follow the official Photoshop Facebook page, you may have seen them post this image not too long ago, before their winter vacation. Reading through the comments, many of their users wanted a tutorial on how to create a similar effect. So today, we’re going to take a boring image of snow, and give it a little love. The snow image that I’m using for this tutorial was found over on


The first thing we need to do, is create our shape. You’re free to use any shape that you wish, but for the sake of Valentines Day, we’re going to use a heart. Lucky for us, Adobe has included a preset heart in Photoshop.

In your Tools Bar, grab your Custom Shape Tool, which may be hiding with your other Shape Tools, then at the top on your Options Bar, open up the Shape Finder.

If you don’t see the heart as one of your options, you may need to load some additional shapes. If this is the case, click on the arrow at the top right corner of your Shape Finder, select Shapes, then Append.

You should now have two heart shapes at your disposal. When you decide which one to use, drag out your shape on your document.. Don’t worry too much about the color, as we’re going to be adding a gradient shortly.

If you choose, you can quickly enter Free Transform Mode (Edit > Free Transform Path) in order to rotate the shape, to stray away from a dead-on angle.

At this point, we need to add the snow around the edges of the heart. To do this, we’re going to create a custom brush. Using a custom brush has many advantages. One, it’s completely customizable. Two, it’ll save us from tedious masking.

To save us a little bit of work, we’re going to start with one of Photoshop’s preset brushes. After you’ve selected your Brush Tool, under the Brush Picker, select a brush with ‘stippled’ edges. Photoshop has many of these available, but if you’re following along, I’m starting off with the 59 pixel Spatter brush.

Once your brush is selected, it’s time to customize. As with any brush customization, we need to reveal our Brush Panel. This can be activated by going to Window > Brush. Here are the settings you’ll want to focus on for this brush.

At this point, your brush is complete. If you want to save it for future use, select New Brush Preset from the drop down menu at the top right corner of the Brush Panel.

Now we can start applying this brush to our design. There are a few ways to go about this, but I think the most non-destructive way to do so, would be to add a Layer Mask to our shape, and then paint around the edges, which should give us the illusion that snow has fallen onto our shape.

At the bottom of your Layers Panel, click on the Add a Mask (button to apply a blank Layer Mask to your shape layer.

Once that’s done, we need to make sure that our shape’s path is active. Depending on the color of your shape, you may or may not be able to visible see the path. If you take a look at the Vector Mask Thumbnail in your Layers Panel, you should see a broken frame around each corner. This indicates that the path is active. If you don’t see this frame, click on the Vector Mask to activate it.

Once the path is activated, we need to stroke the path! Which basically means we’re going to tell Photoshop to paint our brush completely around our shape. For the first stroke, follow these steps:

– Grab your Pen Tool.
– Right click on the path, choose Stroke Path.
– Make sure that Brush is the Tool selected, Simulate Pressure is off, and press OK.

Now that our first Stroke is complete, we don’t have to do those steps over and over again. A quick way of doing all of these steps, is with your Brush Tool active, and making sure the Path is still active (broken frame), simply press Return or Enter on your keyboard. I’m going to apply the Stroke two or three times to ensure that the border of the shape gets nice and covered.

Once you’ve applied the stroke a few times, increase the size of your brush by pressing your right Square Bracket key a few times (around 100px), and then apply two more strokes.

Continue this process until you’re happy with the way the mask is looking. I’m going to stop at 125 pixels to avoid loosing too much quality on my brush.

Clicking on the Vector Mask in your Layers Panel will hide the path, allowing you to see the border of your shape. If there are any areas that look too sharp, decrease the size of your brush again, and paint over those left over bits.

It’s looking quite nice, but we need to add a few Layer Styles to one, add the gradient, and two, add a bit of an edge to the snow.

Layer Styles

In this section, we’re going to be adding a few Layer Styles to our masked heart shape. A Gradient Overlay, a Bevel and Emboss, and a Drop Shadow. Once they are added, we’re also going to look at a fun alternative for your design. Let’s start with the Gradient Overlay. The settings for all the Layer Styles are below. Note, if your design is larger or smaller, you may need to alter the Layer Styles.

Once the Layer Styles are added, your result should look similar to the one below.

Now that our basic design is finished, we can get fancy! Instead of the blue gradient, we can add an additional texture inside the heart. I’m going to use an ice texture, found on Once you have a texture chosen, place it on top of of your heart layer.

Once the texture is in place, in your Layers Panel, right-click on the texture layer, and choose Create Clipping Mask.

This will place your new texture inside the heart shape. However, you may notice that your new texture just disappeared! This is because the Gradient Overlay on the previous layer is active. Turn off the Gradient Overlay to reveal the new texture.

Now to really get fancy, grab a romantic image, clip it, change the Blend Mode to Screen, and slightly decrease the Opacity. Add a basic white Stroke and Drop Shadow to finish it off.

  • Ndiaye Sidy

    I like

  • robsproductions

    Very nice! I could see something like this done in the clouds too with or without the “romantic image”.

  • Tolis Mfkr

    Sooooo cool..

  • VagelisVagOvOganesov


  • Tirath

    Awesome tutorial with nice creative valentine’s Heart

    I am a big friend of your youtube channal. But I like your written tutorials also

    Your all Photoshop tutorial are creative & very Easy to follow

    People like you make Photoshop Designing more interesting and Enjoyable

    keep up good work Mr Howard Pinsky you are Genus person

    your tutorials are one of the best tutorials on internet.

    Please keep educating us

    God Bless you 🙂

  • Peace Walker

    When I Applied the Brush to the Heart, It did not Looked like your Brush when you applied it. I went to check the Brush settings again and they were the same as your settings, but my Brush looks more Blurry when I apply It. Please Reply, I want to make this Image for my Girlfriend and I want it to look perfect like how your Image looks.

    • IceflowStudios

      @Peace Walker Check your Opacity/Flow on your Options Bar. Make sure they are both 100%. Double check all the settings carefully. If you started with the same brush, and changed all the right settings, it should be okay.

      • Peace Walker

        @[email protected] Walker OMG!! Thank you so much Iceflow. The Opacity/Flow were the problem. Im glad I found your Tutorials a long time ago, Thanks to you I’ve learn so much about Photoshop. Thank you, keep up the awesome work.

        • IceflowStudios

          @Peace Walker You’re welcome.

  • freedommcflyy

    Hey Howard can you show us how to make a COLLADA file with the extension.dae for the 3D effect in the new ibooks author?

  • Māris Lenšs

    Simply awesome! Already used this technique to create a card. 🙂 Haven’t seen better turorials anywhere.

  • John Vistan


  • nkkhilji

    When I try to stroke the path with the brush, nothing happens. My history bar says it was stroked, but nothing shows up on the heart. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong…

    • IceflowStudios

      @nkkhilji Make sure your Layer Mask is active, and your brush is set to black.

  • Tay

    Thank you again for another amazing tutorial.

    • IceflowStudios

      @Tay You’re welcome.

  • Ian H

    Thanks, very nice guide, but could it work with text :)?

  • IceflowStudios

    If you have a text layer, right-click on the layer > Create Work Path. That’ll give you a path to Stroke.

  • VinhSonNguyen

    @IceflowStudios So I heard you needed a ‘professional’ mograph designer? 😉

    • IceflowStudios

      @VinhSonNguyen Heh. I’m looking for a super simple intro for upcoming videos:

      • VinhSonNguyen

        @IceflowStudios For simple animation, its so much easier to animate with audio selected, rather than choose audio last. Like Rev3. Any idea?

        • IceflowStudios

          @VinhSonNguyen Haven’t looked into audio yet. No music, just sounds effects, similar to Rev3.

        • 000machb

          @VinhSonNguyen you tried this software?

  • Silje

    Nothing happens when I tried to stroke the path 🙁 With neither of the two ways of doing it

  • AngelosPatsis

    i dont understand what you did on the path and after. i take the pen, right click, stroke path. but i cant ckeck the brush…. and after that it doesnt make the hurt hust like yours… what is my problem?

  • Доктор Усама

    <3 Love Your TUTO

  • خواطر العشاق


  • Federico Sironi

    Nope, but I did a frozen windows logo 🙂

  • Kyler Hawkey

    I made one for my girl <3

  • Alfred Joshua Gelacio

    Oh nnnoo, it’s just perfect 😀

  • Oliver Steiner

    pls tell me a way to do it on ps cs4 🙁 want do one for my girl too

  • Ellen Verkoeijen

    Yes, I just finished it 🙂 Thanks for the tutorial. Greetings from the Netherlands

  • leerat83

    Hi love the tutorial I have tried to do this but for some reason can not get it to do what you did. I have tried everything and it just does not want to allow me to do anything as please help

  • Thank you very much for this very easy-to-understand tutorial. I just wonder if the blue shadow is not a bit “too much”, if you use the ice-texture. I changed the setting of the “Bevel and Emboss” to a different color (#6780aa) and the highlight-mode to “screen”. Try it out – I think it looks a little bit more realistic. 🙂

  • MIphoto

    Everything is great until the end when I add a clipping mask to my texture and it disappeared even if I turned off Gradient Overlay, it still is gone. I tried adding a photo and it will disappear even with the Gradient overlay turned off.

    • @MIphoto

    • @MIphoto Please check the order of your layers in the layer browser. Another reason might be if you have “inverted” the color of your layer mask. Compare your layer explorer with the one from the video and it should be fixed. 🙂

  • TimGibbs

    AHHH whats going wrong. I have done ever step exactly but when I get to the brush and stroking the path nothing happens. Whats gone wrong? what haven’t i done?

    • TimGibbs

      the shape path is active, the brush is set to black.