Vignettes are a dynamic artistic tool that can strengthen energy and mood in a photo, or subtly draw attention to the subject. The appearance of the vignette can be widely varied, from a sharp mechanical edge, to a free-flowing organic look that blends seamlessly with the image. This video demonstrates how to create a dense irregular vignette from scratch.
Photo: Theodore Kefalopoulos
Creating a custom vignette
When creating a vignette, presets are a great way to experiment with options. Scrolling through the presets will display what it will look like when applied to your image. After applying, you can customize the vignette by adjusting the sliders on the panel.
Edge irregularities in the look can give the photo an organic, hand-made feel. Introduce abnormalities in the vignette edge with Distortion. Control their appearance with Lump Size. The effect these sliders make can be randomized to fit better with each photo or to avoid repetition. The placement of the vignette center can be crucial for visual impact of the image.
For more detailed information about using the Vignette panel controls, watch our Vignette video.
Once you have a vignette you like, you can save it as a panel preset to use again in the future. From the panel menu, select Save As Preset.
Intensifying vignette effects
When studying the new vignette in place, look for areas that are unevenly darkened. Brighter areas can lead the viewer’s eye off of the image instead of directing it back into the photo.
A great way to build up vignette density is to separate the effects in multiple layers. The workflow is really simple, and the masking tools provide lots of control over the look. In the Layer’s panel, right-click and then duplicate the vignette layer.
This copied layer will strengthen the vignette effect along the sky. To control the look, open the Brush panel. A half-planar gradient will apply the vignette along the top edge at full strength, and it will seamlessly blend into the photo near the horizon.
The other area to darken is the bottom corner where the tracks meet the edge of the frame. The process is the same. First duplicate the vignette layer, then update the mask to work with the photo.