Design a Simple Snowman in Photoshop

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a snowman with an elegant stovepipe hat and rely thereby heavily on Photoshop’s versatile layer style functions.

Step 1: Creating a New Document

Create a new document with 1000 on 1000 pixels and a white background.

Step 2: Setting Up Basic Guides

Because it makes it easier to draw shapes in the right proportions we’ll set up some basic guides. Activate the rulers (Ctrl + R) if you don’t have them already activated and set their unit to pixels (right-click on one of the rulers to do so), then add guides at the following coordinates:

  • Horizontal axis:
    • 420px
    • 450px
    • 500px
    • 550px
    • 580px
  • Vertical axis:
    • 250px
    • 300px
    • 350px
    • 500px

Step 3: Getting Started

Start by selecting the Elliptical Marquee Tool (Shift + M) and hold down the Shift-key to create a 160px high and wide circular selection. The bottom of your selection should touch the guide at 350px, whereas its sides should touch the 420px guide to the left and the 580px guide to the right.

Step 4: Adding a Gradient

Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) and name it “Hat Bottom” and select the Gradient Tool (Shift + G). Choose #303030 and #000000 as your gradient colors, select Radial as Gradient Style and leave the other settings on their default. Now create the radial gradient from the center of the circle (you should add another horizontal guide at 270px) to its border.

Step 5: Transform the Circle

Deselect Everything (Ctrl + D) and go to Edit > Free Transform (Ctrl + T) in order to transform your newly created circle. Small it down until it is only 100px high (its top should touch the 250px guide now).


In case you are wondering why we didn’t create an 160px on 100px ellipse directly and applied a gradient then, there is a simple explanation: If we would have chosen the just mentioned method we would have ended up with an ellipse with a circular gradient, whereas, with our method, we got an ellipse with an elliptic gradient, way better.

Step 6: Adding a Rectangle

Now select the Rectangle Tool (U) and draw a 100px wide and 90px high rectangle. Its bottom should touch the center of our ellipse (at the 300px guide) and its sides the 450px and 550px guides. Name the shape “Hat Body”.

Step 7: Duplicating the Ellipse

Duplicate the “Hat Bottom” shape by right-clicking on the layer and selecting Duplicate Layer (Ctrl + J) and go once again to Edit > Free Transform (Ctrl + T). Reduce its height to 50px while holding the Alt-key and 100px for its width (keep your finger still on the Alt-key). Rename the layer as “Hat Body Bottom”.

Step 8: Finishing the Basic Hat

Duplicate the layer you just created and move it 90px up (so that its center touches the top of the “Hat Body” shape). You also have to move the layer itself above the “Hat Body” layer in the Layers Palette. Now we already have a basic hat (although it’s admittedly still ugly).

Step 9: Styling the Hat

Time for some layer styles. Right-click on the “Hat Body” layer and select Blending Options. Go to Gradient Overlay and use the settings shown below.

Step 10: Copy the Styling

Right-click on the “Hat Body” layer and select Copy Layer Style. Then right-click on the “Hat Body Bottom” layer and select Paste Layer Style. If you want to you can deactivate the guides (Ctrl + for a moment and have a look at the hat (not so ugly anymore, is it?).

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