Project Description

Exposure Editing - Vignettes

Learn how to apply vignettes to your photos. This video shows you how to create well balanced vignette effects. Vignettes are great creative tools to subtly focus attention on the subject.

Photo: Oleg Kim


Photo vignettes darken and can even desaturate the edges of an image. The effects are more pronounced when images are shot using a wide aperture. The design or construction of the lens can create this type of effect. Light entering the camera can be partially blocked by the lens barrel, and light at the periphery of the lens takes longer to reach the camera sensor.

Vignettes aren’t always a desirable effect, especially if they produce strong or uneven coloring. Check out our Lens Distortion and Vignetting video for details on removing unwanted vignettes.

How to quickly apply vignettes

Presets are a great way to experiment with vignette options. Just open the list and scroll through the presets to preview how they will look when applied to your image. Each one can be fully-customized.

When you develop a look that you like, it can be defined as a custom preset. This will save the vignette settings so you can apply the same look in the future. Click the Manage Presets button, then choose Save as a Preset.

Controlling vignette effects

The Amount slider controls how strong the vignette is. It ranges from -100 to 100. Positive values darken the edges. Negative values lighten edges. At zero, the vignette isn’t visible and all the other controls are disabled.

It can be helpful to turn the slider all the way up or down when creating a vignette. This makes it easier to visualize the effects of the adjustments you make. After the controls are set, adjust the Amount slider to make the effect more subtle.

Softness controls how the the image fades into the border. Low values of softness give a hard edge, and high values make it increasingly subtle. Low softness makes it easier to visualize the effects of the other controls.

The Size controls the radius of the vignette. At low values only a small part of the image shows though. As it is set higher, more of your photo is shown.

Roundness controls the shape of the vignette. Low values give the vignette the rectangular shape of your photo. High values make the vignette more round.

Distortion gives the vignette an irregular shape. This can add a more messy organic look to your photo. Turn distortion up to make the shape of the vignette more lumpy.

You can control the size of the lumps with the Lump Size slider. Turn it down low and you can see that the ripples at the edges are getting smaller. Higher values make bigger ripples.

By default the vignette is positioned at the center of your photo. You can move it by clicking vignette location control. Move the cursor to the preview window and you’ll observe the vignette moving with it. When you have the placement just right, click the mouse.

The Random Seed button allows you to vary the look of the distortion in the vignette. Click it a few times to experiment with different looks. The number next to the button allows you to reproduce a particular distorted look later.

Now that we have the shape of our vignette set, let’s make a few changes to make it more subtle. Make the size a little larger so you don’t darken your subject. Next, Increase the softness so the effect isn’t so dramatic. Now dial back the amount a bit.

Press the backslash key to compare with the original image.