Learn how to create the look of a rainy day, even when your photos were taken in full sunshine. Tommy Maloney shows you how.


Sometimes the weather just won’t cooperate when you’re after a certain mood for your photos – but that doesn’t have to be a disaster. Photoshop has plenty of tools to help you tinker with your images and get the effect you need – even when that means manipulating the weather.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create believable rainy, blustery day with some clever use of custom brushes and a couple of other Photoshop tricks. The tutorial focuses on maximum flexibility, giving you as many options as possible – and there are plenty of handy tips for keyboard shortcuts, too.

You can use an image of your own – one where the sky can’t be seen will make things easier – but if you’d like to use the same image as Tommy, you can buy it from www.istockphoto.com/file_closeup.php?id=557261.


01. We’re going to start by making a raindrop, then turning this raindrop into a brush. In Photoshop, create a new document 300 pixels wide by about 100 pixels tall. Press D to set your colors to default and fill the background with black by pressing Cmd/ Ctrl + Backspace.


02. Create a new layer by pressing Cmd/ Ctrl + Alt + Shift + N. Select the paintbrush tool by hitting B and choose a soft 9-pixel brush. Draw a white dot on the left side of the vertical centre of your document.





03. Select Filter > Stylize > Wind and select the method as Wind, and the direction as from the left. You won’t be able to see the effects in the filter preview, but you can see the results after you hit OK. Go Cmd/Ctrl + F to run the filter again and repeat until you get what looks like a raindrop. Make the raindrop fall by rotating it down – go to Image > Rotate Canvas > 90º CCW.


04. Hide your background layer by clicking on the Eye icon in the Layers palette. Press Cmd/Ctrl + I to invert the image, making your droplet black, then select the whole image (Cmd/Ctrl + A). Create a new brush by going to Edit > Define Brush Preset. Save it as something you’ll remember.



05. With the brush tool selected (B), bring up the Brush Options menu by pressing F5. Under Brush Presets, find the brush you just made – it should be at the bottom of the list. Under Brush Tip Shape you’ll want to adjust the spacing to something pretty wide, usually around 200-300%. Adjust the angle slightly to make it seem more natural. Next, go to Shape Dynamics and adjust the Size Jitter and Angle Jitter until you find something you like – I chose to use about 100% and 2% respectively. Then, go to Scattering and adjust the Scatter setting; I used 275%. You’ll also want to select Wet Edges and Smoothing. Save this as your new rain brush by selecting New Brush Preset in the Brushes palette menu.




06. Now we’ve made our brush, we can start working on the photo. The first thing you’ll want to do is make the image look a bit more gloomy. Create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer (select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation). Bring the Brightness and Saturation down to something like -10 and -25, respectively.


07. Here’s where the beauty of having the rain as a brush comes in. You can easily adjust the size, frequency and angle of the rain droplets, just by messing with your brush size and settings. You’ll want to add differing levels of rain for a more realistic effect. Place smaller drops in the distance, and larger ones in the foreground.


08. Here’s where the beauty of having the rain as a brush comes in. You can easily adjust the size, frequency and angle of the rain droplets, just by messing with your brush size and settings. You’ll want to add differing levels of rain for a more realistic effect. Place smaller drops in the distance, and larger ones in the foreground.




09. For the final rain layer – the one that will be closest to you – you’ll want to return the brush to its original size. Paint in the rain, making the drops as consistent as possible. This will look really fake at this point, so add a bit of motion by using a blur. You can use a small Gaussian blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian) or you can try a Motion Blur. Here, I used a Gaussian Blur. Reduce the Layer Opacity or change the blend mode again.


10. Next we’ll add the effect of the rain droplets splashing on the ground. Luckily, Photoshop already has a brush preset that works fairly well for this, called Star 42-pixels. Go through the brush settings as you did in Step 05, adjusting the Size Jitter, Angle, Scattering, Wet Edges and Smoothing. You’ll want to paint your splashes only on the ground area, trying to avoid foreground objects. Adjust the opacity accordingly.



11. Now let’s make the ground appear wet. You’ll want to remove any harsh shadows, if applicable, since it’s not usually sunny when it’s raining. I used a combination of the Patch tool (J) and the Clone Stamp Tool (S).


12. Duplicate your main/background layer by hitting Cmd/Ctrl + J. We’re going to add a bit of distortion (Filter > Distort > Ripple). Use the default settings of 100 per cent and size of Medium. Since you only want the ground blurred, add a layer mask to your blurred layer by selecting Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Fill your new layer mask with black. Select the Paintbrush tool and choose a regular round brush. Paint in the ground area of the layer mask with white to make it visible. You can fade the distortion back by adjusting the opacity if it’s too intense.


13. The final steps are up to you. I worked on some of the minor details, like adding reflections to the people walking. I also tried to make some of their clothes look damp by using a bit of the Burn tool. Hopefully this tutorial will add another technique as a tool to your designer toolbox. For me, it provides a lot more flexibility to a frequently requested effect.



Who: After working with some of the biggest names in the Photoshop industry, Tommy Maloney created photoshoplab.com, dedicated to all things Photoshop. Tommy is now a Web developer.
Contact: photoshoplab.com
Software: Adobe Photoshop
Time to complete: 2 hours