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Christmas Photoshop Tutorial
Tutorials Photo Manipulation 46450 Views December 5th, 2010

Christmas is coming soon and I wanted to create a nice photo manipulation tutorial this year to celebrate my favorite holiday! So, I thought that a Christmas card would be a great idea! The theme I chose is the Christmas night when Santa Claus visits good kids' houses and leaves lots of gifts !

Learn how to turn a daytime summer photo into a night time winter image. Learn how to achieve this dramatic transformation from this easy to follow tutorial.


How to Create a Christmas Night in Photoshop

Final result for the Christmas Photoshop Tutorial

Step 1 - Prepare the Scene

In this first step I will tell you something about the initial steps. First of all I have to open a new psd file, size 650/900 px and to copy this beautiful cottage image Cottage I into this file. As you can see the photo was taken on summer months and in the day time. And I need exactly the opposite. So I will have to turn the photo from day to night and also from summer to winter. Not a very easy task but I will do my best. This is an excellent technique practice.

Select and remove the grass area. I will replace it with snow later on.

Step 2 - Turn Day to Night Effect

With the Smudge Tool try to cover the tree from the left side and any other trees that are in the sky area. Use horizontal moves for this tool to obtain better results. I will cover the rest with snow.

Go to Image - Adjustments - Hue/Saturation menu and make the following settings:

This is the result so far, it starts to look like a night photo.

Because the image is placed in the center of our file we still have an empty space on the top and on the bottom of the image. So lets fill out the top area with the Paint Bucket Tool, color #182735.

Step 3 - Begin Turning Summer to Winter

Now let's begin the Winter Transformation. For the bottom part simple paint over with the Brush Tool. Create a new layer and call it Bottom Snow. Set the foreground color #485f6c , Brush Tool size 14px and paint to cover all the grass and trees and leafs to create a snow surface.

Now I will use the Brush Tool and the Burn Tool to create highlights and shadows on the snow surface. It it similar to painting over with the Brush Tool.

First use the Dodge Tool, small size brush, Shadows Range and exposure 30%. Don't forget to check Protect Tones. Pass over certain areas several times to to create depth.

Now I will do the same but with the Burn Tool. Burnt certain areas several times also. It is important to work slow and carefully.

For soften the surface and blend the different tone colors use Filter - Blur - Surface Blur, with the following settings.

Use the Dodge and the Burn Tool again with a smaller exposure to paint the surface again. But instead of using surface blur I used the Smudge Tool to blend the colors.

Step 4 - Add Another Snow Surface

Ok now I want to improve the winter landscape by adding another snow surface. I will use this beautiful winter stock image Winter Landscape 4 by ~natureflowerstock.

So download the image and resize it to 40% so that it fits in our file. Then with the Pen Tool, paths selected draw a simple shape to keep only the snow area.

Copy the selection in a new layer and call it Snow Area 2. With the area selected use the Smudge Tool to cover and hide the trees. Use Surface Blur if you obtain a surface that does not look realistic.

Another obvious thing that we need to fix is the tone color, the lightness and the saturation. For that let's change the settings of Hue/Saturation as shown in the image.

Use the transform tool from the menu Edit - Transform - Warp, to change the shape of this snow area like in the image:

You can use the Dodge/Burn Tools to create light/dark accents, but only with small size Exposure and with Protect Tones checked.

Step 5 - Cottage Roof Snow

Now there is no snowy winter without snow on the roof of the house. So, practically with the almost the same technique used on previous 2 steps, we will add snow on the roof.
Create a new layer, called Roof Snow. With the Pen Tool, path selected draw the roof shapes. In fact draw the roof shapes exceeding the initial shape so that we can give volume to the snow surface later on.

With the Pen Tool selected, right click and choose Make Selection with the following settings:

Set the foreground color #596d79 and with the Paint Bucket Tool fill the selections.

I will use different techniques by the ones presented at step 3 and step 4, I will add depth/volume/tridimensional shape to the roof. So with the Brush Tool and maybe a graphic tablet for better precision, I will start painting.

Make a copy of Roof Snow before you begin!! With the Brush Tool paint shadow areas as shown below using the following color pallet: #576e76, #385462 and #22394b .

Add Surface Blur with the settings: radius 10 pixels and Threshold 30 pixels.
Now with the Burn and Dodge Tools accentuate the light and shadow areas.

Step 6 - Winter Sky with Full Moon

Now I will turn this flat sky into something more magic by adding clouds and a full moon. For that copy this image Moon STOCK by *wyldraven and resize it. Call this layer Moon . The color difference is obvious so got to Hue/Saturation option and make the following setting:

Change Moon Layer blending mode to Screen 80% . Use also the Eraser Tool to blend the edges of the Moon layer with the existing sky image.

The final touches for the sky are darken with the Burn Tool and also add some dark and light clouds with the Cloud Brushes Clouds by *elestrial

Step 7 - House Lights

Now I am going to add lights to the house. For that create a new layer called House Lights. With the Pen Tool create two selections like in the image and fill it with color #fbffbe. Add Gaussian Blur like in the image and change the blending mode of the layer to Linear Dodge 70%.

With the Eraser Tool carefully erase the left and bottom area of the light that exceeds the window. You should now have something like that:

Step 8 - Add a Little Christmas Tree

To complete the winter scenery I will add a little Christmas tree in the background. The image used is this Christmas Tree Hunt 08 by ~SimplyBackgrounds
Crop carefully the big tree from the left, in fact only the top part. Resize the image to 35% and adjust the Hue/Saturation balance as shown:

Another thing! Work with Burn and Dodge Tools to blend in the tree better and to add shadow and light.
Now create a new layer, call it Tree Decoration. Take the Brush Tool and draw tree decorations like in the image. Play with different sizes and pick the color #73231a.

Add Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow and Inner Glow as shown in the images below:

For the glow simply draw the light points with color #c29c95.

Step 9 - Street Sign

I want to add a nice street sign so for that I will use this image Garden signs stock by ~Wildwinyan-stock
Copy and crop the image, then resize it to 40%. Now hide the text with the Smudge Tool. Use a lower size brush to obtain a realistic result.

You can see that the photo is too exposed and was taken on a bright summer day. For that I will create a new layer and I will paint over the sign using the color #412d2b. Change the blending mode of this layer to Hard Light 100%. Now merge the two layers and you will notice the difference.

I will now add to my sign a new direction sign using the same image. So crop the selection like in the image. Erase to obtain only the sign. Flip the sign horizontal and rotate. With the Smudge Tool retouch the sign to hide the sign that covers it. And for a realistic result adjust the shape and add a shadow.
When it looks good merge the two layers: Street Sign and the Third Sign.

Ok, now I will add a text on every sign: / wishes you / a Merry Christmas! Choose the color #b29986 and font Amienne.
Merge the Text Layer with the Street Sign Layer. It is time to adjust the tone color to blend in with the rest of our images. For that adjust the Hue/Saturation as show in the image:

Adjust the Brightness Contrast following these settings:

Step 10 - Snow On and Around the Street Sign

Create a new layer called Street Sign Snow. Draw a shape with the Pen Tool, fill the selection with color #637881. Use The Burn Tool and Surface Blur to give it shape. I will also add snow on the street sign in the same way I added snow on the roof of the house in the first steps of this tut.

Step 11 - Street Sign Shadow

Duplicate the Street sign layer and make it black. Flip it vertical and then distort it like in the image below. The direction of the shadow is calculated depending on the moon light.

Step 12 - Santa Claus

Now I will add the Santa Claus on the house roof. Simply copy this image santa claus by ~objekt-stock into your file and remove the background. Resize the image to 15%. Now the Santa Claus needs a little color tone adjustment and light adjustment. For that change the Hue/Saturation balance as shown in the image.
Another thing that must be done is to use the Burn Tool to darken the lower part of the Santa Claus and the Dodge Tool to lighten the upper part where the moon lights are dropping.

Respecting the rule that every object or person drops a shadow, it is a must to add a shadow for the Santa Claus. So duplicate the layer, make it black, flip it vertical.

And then Distort the shadow like in the image, lower the Opacity to 40% and add Gaussian Blur:

Step 13 - How to Create Snowing Effect

Create a new layer, called Sparkle and download this beautiful sparkle brushes Pixie Dust Trails brushes . With white color add a little sparkle accents. Use a lower size brush and do not forget that less is more, do not be tempted to add to much sparkle as I am tempted.

The last and final touch is adding a new layer, called Snow. Download this snow brushes and add snow with the same white color. You can also use these textures snowfall 1 and snowfall 2 with Screen blend mode.

Dear friends, this is the final result. It took me a while to write the tutorial so I will be very happy if you find it useful! Don't forget to share it :)

christmas photoshop tutorial

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29 comment(s) for "Christmas Photoshop Tutorial"

Cynthia Powell-Cindy
7:00 AM Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Love the tutorial, will give it a try! Thanks for taking your time to create it for us. :-D reply
7:00 AM Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Thank you Cindy :) i am glad you like it! reply
7:00 AM Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Well done psd-dude.. Thanks. Check up on my version of your tutorial:)..Thanks again..really great the snow brushes..but i would dare to add one more thing.
After using the brush, a 1px 100% Opacity outer glow would give a bit of a smoothness to the reply
7:00 AM Thursday, December 09, 2010
Thanks Ela, i am glad you like it!
I also checked up your result and it is pretty good: the Santa Claus seems too dark for the image but the image looks like Christmas to mee :) reply
7:00 AM Thursday, December 09, 2010
Thanks Linda :) i am working on a new tut as we speak ! reply
Design Panoply
7:00 AM Thursday, December 09, 2010
Very cool tutorial. After seeing the final image I surprised at how it was made of so many different parts.

Good one ;) reply
7:00 AM Tuesday, December 14, 2010
this cool ,i need it. reply
7:00 AM Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Wow this is great and thank you reply
Malin Borge
Malin Borge
7:00 AM Thursday, December 16, 2010
Thank u so much for this tourial! Helped me with making our christmas card this year! :D reply
7:00 AM Thursday, December 16, 2010
Very awesome. Thanks for sharing! reply
7:00 AM Friday, December 17, 2010
:) I am so glad you like my Christmas tut!
Thanks for stopping by my little site! Merry Christmas! reply
7:00 AM Sunday, December 19, 2010
Hi Malin! Change the opacity to 70% but is impossible to obtain an identical result just following the tut ... a written tut is not as complete as a video tut or a psd file; you must improvise, add a new layer, play with blending modes, color tones a reply
7:00 AM Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I am really glad! :)
7:00 AM Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Beautiful ! Thanks !!! reply
7:00 AM Monday, January 03, 2011
I really like that! i appreciate it ! Keep it up! reply
aman juyal
aman juyal
7:00 AM Tuesday, February 08, 2011
its very cool i'll try ma best fr dis one....
every step is so clear.....even a child can do readin dis one....u r doin really a great job........
thnx fo dis one........ reply
Nisha Gandhi
5:20 PM Wednesday, November 30, 2011
wow I loved the way u made the snow! thanks for sharing:) reply
7:55 AM Monday, December 19, 2011
I am attempting to follow your tutorial, but the bit where you do the shadow on the snowy roof you seem to have put the same colour code for each shade.

I just thought you should know. reply
7:56 AM Monday, December 19, 2011
Thank you for telling me my friend, I fixed that problem I hope it is ok now :) reply
8:13 AM Sunday, January 22, 2012
Wow thanks for spending your time writing this awesome tut!!! reply
8:15 AM Sunday, January 22, 2012
waw very nice thank u for it's tutrils reply
8:19 AM Sunday, January 22, 2012
:) Thank you for appreciating my work Sam! reply
Trine Kvalnes
1:28 AM Sunday, November 25, 2012
Thank you for sharing this tutorial with us! It took me all day to make it, but I learned a lot. Even though I struggled hopelessly with the windows light. It didn??t work exactly like you said it would.. every time I drew a new window the yellow light became more white for some reason.. oh, well.. this became ugly and not very well in my picture, but I like the picture noen the less :) It??s my first drawing in photoshop! :) So thanks for sharing!

Trine :) reply
1:32 AM Sunday, November 25, 2012
Hi Trine,

For a first work in Photoshop it looks really nice. Thank you for practicing the tutorial and keep up the good work!
12:14 AM Monday, December 17, 2012
This is a really good work, I like your result for the Christmas night photo manipulation ! For this year i have made another Christmas Photoshop tutorial that you might also like :) reply
12:14 AM Monday, December 17, 2012
I liked this tutorial a lot :) and it was a pleasure for me :) reply
Malin Borge
Malin Borge
11:54 AM Friday, July 04, 2014
Thanks! I used feathers when I selected the windows! :) reply
1:30 AM Tuesday, December 23, 2014
This was a great tutorial, enjoyed doing it, looking forward to the next one reply
1:30 AM Tuesday, December 23, 2014
I'm having a little problem here with the windows. I don't get the outer glow you got. What am I going to change into 70 % ? Is it opacity or fill opacity? reply

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