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Create custom snowflakes for your winter designs in 6 easy steps

Added on Sunday 27th of December 2009 09:21 am EST

Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:
Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


Clip art snowflakes are fine in a pinch but considering no two snowflakes are alike, do you really want your flakes looking like everybody else’s? We’ll show you how to create one-of-a-kind ice crystals to enhance all of your cool winter designs


Snowflakes are popular elements to use for winter designs, but capturing a photo of one is quite difficult—unless of course you have access to a snowflake photomicroscope! (Doesn’t everybody?) The next best thing is to simply create your own custom snowflakes in Photoshop, and we’re sure you’ll be more than satisfied with the results.


Step 1: Create a new document 

To create the new document: 

  1. Create a new 5-inch by 5-inch 300 ppi RGB document with a white background
  2. Add a new layer and rename the new layer Snowflake
  3. Click on the Set Foreground Color swatch in the Tools panel to display the Color Picker dialog box. Select a color for your snowflake and click OK. We chose R:34, G:148, B:181 for ours, but the color isn’t that important because you can change it later with a Color Overlay.


Step 2: Make a triangle 

You’ll use a triangle as the base shape for the snowflake. While Photoshop has plenty of custom shapes, there isn’t a right triangle, so you’ll need to create one.

To make a right triangle: 

  1. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool from the Tools panel and draw a rectangle in the top-right corner of your document.
  2. Choose Edit > Fill.
  3. In the resulting Fill dialog box, choose Foreground Color from the Use pop-up menu and click OK. Your document should now resemble that shown in

    Figure A.


  4. Choose Select > Transform Selection.
  5. Enter 30 in the Rotate text box on the tool Options bar, as shown in Figure B.


  6. Increase the size of your selection by dragging the bounding box outward so the unselected area makes a right triangle, as shown in Figure C.


  7. Press [enter] to apply the transformation.
  8. Press [delete] to eliminate the selected area, and then press [command]D ([Ctrl]D in Windows) to deselect the image. You should now have a triangle to use as the basis for your snowflake, as shown in Figure D.



Step 3: Crystallize the flake 

Every snowflake has its own individual pattern, and yours is no exception! In this next step, you’ll add pizazz to your flake by eliminating sections of the triangle. Think back to when you used to make paper snowflakes by cutting snips out of folded paper, and get creative with your section removal.

Tip: Not sure how to design your flake? Point your browser to for some real-life inspiration, and check out the many different forms ice crystals can take!

To create an intricate snowflake design: 

Choose the Polygonal Lasso tool from the Tools panel.

  1. Select areas of your triangle one by one and delete them, until you have a design with which you’re happy. You can see our design in

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