Tutorial: Creating the Rain Effect in Photoshop

Photoshop Tutorial

For this tutorial we will be taking one of our images into Photoshop and creating a simple yet great looking rain effect. It is a way in which we can get that rain mood without having to get your camera or lens wet. In this tutorial I will be using Photoshop CC but it is compatible with a few other versions as well. In order to create this effect, we will be using adjustment layers and smart filters so we can keep our photo fully editable and can adjust all the rain details we will add in.

Here is the image I will be starting with:


Here is the image I will end up with:


Step 1 – Adding a New Blank Layer

Let’s start by adding a new blank layer to our rain effect. To add a new layer, press and hold ALT (Win) or Option (Mac) on your keyboard and click the New Layer icon at the bottom of the layer panel.

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This will pop open the New Layer Dialog Box, which allows us to name the layer before adding it. Name the layer “Rain,” then click OK to close the dialog box.

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A new layer “Rain” will be added above the background layer.

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Step 2 – Fill the New Layer with Black

At this time our layer is blank. We will fill it with black using Photoshop’s Fill Command. Go up to the Edit menu in the menu bar and choose Fill.

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This opens the Fill Dialog Box. Set the use option to Black and then make sure Mode is set to Normal and Opacity is set to 100%.

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Click OK when you are done to close the Dialog Box. This will fill the Rain layer with black. It is temporarily hiding our image.

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Step 3 – Apply the Add Noise Filter

Now we will use Photoshop’s Add Noise filter to add a lot of random white dots (noise) to the layer. Go up to Filter menu, choose Noise, and then choose Add Noise.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 11.28.11 AM

This will open the Add Noise Dialog Box. We will control how much noise is added to the layer by using the Amount value. Set the amount to 25%. In the Distribution section near the bottom select Gaussian, and then select Monochromatic. Click OK to close the Dialog Box. This fills the Rain layer with noise.

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Step 4 – Scale The Rain Layer to 400%

The white dots that were just added will become our rain but they are to small right now. To make them larger go up to Edit at the top of the screen, choose Transform, and then choose Scale.

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Now that the Scale command is selected, click on the Link Icon between Width and Height options along the top of the screen to link the width and height together so that changing the value of one will also change the value of the other.

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Now if you change the value for the Width to 400% it will automatically change the Height to 400% as well.

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Click the Checkmark in the options bar when you are done.

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Now that we have the Rain layer scaled to 400% of the original size, the noise looks larger.

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Step 5 – Change the Blend Mode to Screen

Since we still can’t see our original image, we need to fix that. We are going to change the Blend Mode of the Rain layer from Normal to Screen.

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What the screen mode does is that it takes out all the blacks in our noise, leaving only the whites visible which allows us to see the original image and create the rain effect.

Step 6- Convert the Rain Layer to a Smart Object

With the Rain layer selected, click on the small menu icon on the top right corner of the Layers Panel.

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Choose Convert to Smart Object

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Step 7- Apply the Motion Blur Filter

Now that our layer is a smart object, we need to blur the noise. We can do this by using the Motion Blur Filter. Go up to Filter, Choose Blur, And then chose Motion Blur.

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This opens the Motion Blur Dialog Box. First you will enter an Angle. You can enter any angle that you think would look best for your photo. I’ll set mine to 65 but you may need something different. We will then set the Distance. This sets the amount of motion blur. Ill set mine to 75 but this really just depends on the size of your photograph. Don’t worry to much about these because you can always change them later.

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Click OK to close out of the Dialog Box. If we look in the layers panel, we see the motion blur filter listed as a smart filter below the Rain Smart Object.

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Step 8 – Add a Level Adjustment Layer

Lets reduce the amount of rain and add some brightness and contrast to our photo by using levels. Press Alt (Win) and Option (Mac) on your keyboard and click New Adjustment Layer in the layers panel.

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This will now open the New Layer Dialog Box again. Leave the name as Levels 1 and make sure you click Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask. Click OK when you are done. The new Levels adjustment layer is above the Rain layer.

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Step 9 – Drag the Black and White Point Sliders

The controls for the Levels adjustment appear in the Properties Panel. This graph shows us the tonal range of the image, increasing in brightness levels from pure black on left to pure white on right. Click on the black point slider and begin to drag it to the right. This will reduce the amount of rain in the image. Click on the white and drag to the left. This will increase the brightness and contrast of the photo. You will want to play around with these until you like how your photo looks.


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Step 10 – Re-adjust The Motion Blur or Levels

You can now go back to your motion blur or Levels by just clicking on it in the layers panel. I am going to go back and adjust my motion blur. Instead of having my distance at 75, I am going to change it to 150.

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Now You Are Done!!