How to Create a Frozen Winter Adobe Photoshop Effect Action

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to turn your photos into frozen
winter images inspired by white walkers from the Game of Thrones TV series. I
will try to explain everything in so much detail that everyone can do
it, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time.

The effect shown above is the one I will show you how to create here in
this tutorial. If you would like to create the effect shown below, a
more advanced effect with animated snow and mist, and just using a
single click, then check out my Snow Walker Photoshop Action.

Snow Walker Photoshop Action

What You’ll Need

To recreate the design above, you will need the following photo:

1. Let’s Get Started

First, open the photo that you want to work with. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, just check a couple of things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode, 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. For best results, your photo size should be 2000–4000 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
  3. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
Checking image size and mode

2. How to Select the Subject

Step 1

In this section we are going to make a selection of our subject and copy the subject to a separate layer. Select the Magic Wand Tool (W), set the Tolerance to 32, and click once on the white background to make a selection of it. Then press Control-Shift-I on your keyboard to invert the selection and get a selection around the subject.

Make selection around subject

Step 2

Now go to Select > Modify > Smooth and set the Sample Radius to 5 px. Next, go to Select > Modify > Contract and set Contract By to 3 px. Finally, go to Select > Modify > Feather and set Feather Radius to 2 px.

Modifying selection

Step 3

Press Control-J on your keyboard to create a new layer using a selection, and name this new layer Subject.

Creating new layer using selection

3. How to Make the Eyes Glow

Step 1

In this section, we are going to change the eye color and make the eyes glow. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Temp.

Creating a new layer

Step 2

Now choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a soft brush, and brush over the iris of both eyes. The color doesn’t matter.

Brushing over eyes

Step 3

Control-click on this layer thumbnail to make a selection of it, and then select the Subject layer and press Control-J on your keyboard to create a new layer using the selection. After that, Right-click on the Temp layer and choose Delete Layer to delete it.

Creating new layer using selection

Step 4

Now go to Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation, check the Colorize option, and set Hue to 206, Saturation to 82 and Lightness to 21 as shown below:

Adjusting hue and saturation

Step 5

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Linear Dodge, set the Opacity to 59%, and name it Eyes_Glow_1.

Changing the blending mode and opacity

Step 6

Now go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to create a blank layer mask. Then set the foreground color to #000000, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a soft brush, and brush over the pupils of both eyes.

Adding layer mask

Step 7

Select the Subject layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it Eyes_Glow_2.

Creating a new layer

Step 8

Set the foreground color to #808080, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a soft brush, and brush over both eyes of your subject.

Brushing over eyes

Step 9

Now go to Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation, check the Colorize option, and set Hue to 206, Saturation to 82 and Lightness to 21 as shown below:

Adjusting hue and saturation

Step 10

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Color.

Changing the blending mode

Step 11

Now press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate the current layer, name this new layer Eyes_Glow_3, and drag it just above the Subject layer.

Duplicating layer

Step 12

Choose the Lasso Tool (L) and make a selection around the left eye of the subject. Right-click anywhere inside the canvas, choose Free Transform, and set the Width of the layer to 200% and the Height to 400%, as shown below:

Transforming the layer

Step 13

Now press Control-D on your keyboard to deselect. Then choose the Lasso Tool (L), make a selection around the right eye of the subject, Right-click anywhere inside the canvas, choose Free Transform, and set the Width of the layer to 200% and the Height to 400%, as shown below:

Transforming the layer

Step 14

Press Control-D on your keyboard to deselect, and then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 50 px as shown below:

Adding gaussian blur filter

Step 15

Now set the Opacity of this layer to 84% and then Shift-click on the Eyes_Glow_1 layer to select all glow layers at once. After that, go to Layer > New > Group from Layers to create a new group from the selected layers and name it Eyes Glow.

Creating a new group from layers

4. How to Create the Background and Texture

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the background and also add some texture. Select the Background layer and go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it Background Color, and set the color to #000000 as shown below:

Creating solid color fill layer

Step 2

Now we are going to add a small light source behind the subject. Press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate the current layer, and name this new layer Middle Light.

Duplicating layer

Step 3

Right-click on this layer, choose Blending Options, check Gradient Overlay, and use the settings below:

Adding layer style

Step 4

Now set the Opacity of this layer to 20%.

Changing the opacity

Step 5

Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Background Texture.

Creating a new layer

Step 6

Now press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches and go to Filter > Render > Clouds.

Adding clouds filter

Step 7

Press Control-T on your keyboard and set the Width and Height of the layer to 200% as shown below:

Transforming the layer

Step 8

Now go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and enter the settings below:

Adjusting levels

Step 9

Set the Opacity of this layer to 25%.

Changing the opacity

5. How to Blend the Subject

Step 1

In this section, we are going to blend our subject more with the background. Select the Subject layer and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to add a blank layer mask.

Adding layer mask

Step 2

Now set the foreground color to #000000, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a small soft brush, and brush over the white areas that are left from the background.

Brushing into mask

Step 3

Pick a large soft brush and brush over the bottom area of the subject to fade it.

Brushing into mask

6. How to Create Snow and Mist

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create snow and mist. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, name it Snow_1, and drag it to the top of the layers in the Layers panel.

Creating a new layer

Step 2

Now set the foreground color to #000000, go to Edit > Fill, and set Contents to Foreground Color, Mode to Normal, and Opacity to 100%.

Filling layer with foreground color

Step 3

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, and set the Amount to 100% and Distribution to Uniform. Check the Monochromatic option, and then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 2 px as shown below:

Adding noise and gaussian blur filter

Step 4

Now go to Image > Adjustments > Curves and use the settings below:

Adjusting curves

Step 5

Press Control-T on your keyboard and set the Width and Height of the layer to 200% as shown below:

Transforming the layer

Step 6

Now go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur, and set Angle to 45 and Distance to 10 as shown below:

Adding motion blur filter

Step 7

Set the Blending Mode of this layer to Screen.

Changing the blending mode

Step 8

Now go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, name it Snow_2, and drag it just below the Snow_1 layer in the Layers panel.

Creating a new layer

Step 9

Set the foreground color to #000000, go to Edit > Fill, and set Contents to Foreground Color, Mode to Normal and Opacity to 100% as shown below:

Filling layer with foreground color

Step 10

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, and set the Amount to 100% and Distribution to Uniform. Check the Monochromatic option, and then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 2 px as shown below:

Adding noise and gaussian blur filters

Step 11

Now go to Image > Adjustments > Curves and use the settings below:

Adjusting curves

Step 12

Press Control-T on your keyboard and set the Width and Height of the layer to 200% as shown below:

Transforming the layer

Step 13

Now press Control-A on your keyboard to make a selection of the canvas and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection to add a layer mask that reveals the selected area of the layer.

Adding layer mask

Step 14

Right-click on the layer mask and choose Apply Layer Mask. Then press Control-T on your keyboard and set the Width and Height of the layer to 500% as shown below:

Transforming the layer

Step 15

Now go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur, and the set Angle to 60 and Distance to 50 as shown below:

Adding motion blur filter

Step 16

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Screen. Then go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to add a blank layer mask. After that, press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches and X to exchange them, and then go to Filter > Render > Clouds.

Adding layer mask

Step 17

Now go to Image > Auto Tone, and then go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and enter the settings below:

Adjusting levels

Step 18

Inside the Properties panel, set the Density of the layer mask to 60%.

Changing layer mask density

Step 19

Now we are going to do the same for the other snow layer. Select the Snow_1 layer, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to add a blank layer mask, and then go to Filter > Render > Clouds.

Adding layer mask

Step 20

Now go to Image > Auto Tone, and then go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and enter the settings below:

Adjusting levels

Step 21

Inside the Properties panel, set the Density of the layer mask to 60%.

Changing layer mask density

Step 22

Now we are going to create some mist. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, name it Snow Mist, and drag it just below the Snow_2 layer in the Layers panel.

Creating a new layer

Step 23

Press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches and go to Filter > Render > Clouds.

Adding clouds filter

Step 24

Now press Control-T on your keyboard and set the Width and Height of the layer to 200% as shown below:

Transforming the layer

Step 25

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Screen and set the Opacity to 45%.

Changing the blending mode and opacity

Step 26

Now go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to add a blank layer mask. Then set the foreground color to #000000, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a soft brush, and brush over the face of your subject to remove the mist from this area.

Brushing into mask

Step 27

Inside the Properties panel, set the Density of the layer mask to 80%.

Changing layer mask density

7. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

In this section, we are going to make the final adjustments to the design. Select the Snow_1 layer and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance to create a new color balance adjustment layer, and name it Color Look.

Creating new color balance adjustment layer

Step 2

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and in the Properties panel, enter the settings below:

Adjusting color balance

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance/Saturation to create a new vibrance/saturation adjustment layer and name it Overall Vibrance/Saturation.

Creating new vibrancesaturation layer

Step 4

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and in the Properties panel, enter the settings below:

Adjusting vibrance and saturation

Step 5

Control-click on the Eyes_Glow_2 layer thumbnail to make a selection of that layer, set the foreground color to #000000, go to Edit > Fill, and set Contents to Foreground Color, Blending to Normal, and Opacity to 100% as shown below:

Filling layer with foreground color

Step 6

Now press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches and X to exchange them. Then go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer and name it Overall Contrast.

Creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 7

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 40%.

Changing the blending mode and opacity

Step 8

Now press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot, and then Control-Shift-U to desaturate this layer. After that, go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 2 px as shown below:

Adding high pass filter

Step 9

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Hard Light and name it Overall Sharpening.

Changing the blending mode

You Made It!

Congratulations, you have succeeded! Here is our final result:

Final result

If you would like to create the effect shown below, a
more advanced effect with animated snow and mist, and just using a
single click, then check out my Snow Walker Photoshop Action.

The action works so that you just fill in your subject with a color and play the
action, and the action will do everything for you, giving you fully
layered and customizable results.

The action comes with a detailed video tutorial that demonstrates how to use and customize the results to get the most out of the effect.