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Adding a custom vignette

From: Photoshop Artist in Action: Tim Grey's Photo Optimization Techniques

Video: Adding a custom vignette

I'm very happy with how my images are turning out. It took a variety of adjustments to start off with the effect and really the most important thing was applying HDR toning. That adjustment really put the finishing touches on the basic effect that I was after and at this point, I feel that I have a. Pretty much finished image, but I would like to add one additional detail. I want to add a little bit more drama to the image, and also help to sort of frame up the photo, by adding a vignette effect. But not just a typical vignette, where mostly the corners get darkened, and the edges of the image don't get darkened all that much.

Adding a custom vignette

I'm very happy with how my images are turning out. It took a variety of adjustments to start off with the effect and really the most important thing was applying HDR toning. That adjustment really put the finishing touches on the basic effect that I was after and at this point, I feel that I have a. Pretty much finished image, but I would like to add one additional detail. I want to add a little bit more drama to the image, and also help to sort of frame up the photo, by adding a vignette effect. But not just a typical vignette, where mostly the corners get darkened, and the edges of the image don't get darkened all that much.

Instead I'm going to create, essentially, a rectangular vignette, so that I'm adding something of a dark frame around the photo. I'll blend that in, of course, but that's the basic idea that I'm after. So I'm going to start off. By creating a selection that will define the area of the image that I want to darken. I'll go to the toolbox and choose the Rectangular Marquee tool, and then I'll create a selection that's just inside the edge of the image essentially defining the boundary between the area that I want to darken and the rest of the photo. Right about there looks to be pretty good. But I'd actually selected the central area of the image, not the edges, and so I need to invert this selection.

To do that I can go to the select menu and then choose inverse, you can also press Ctrl-Shift-I on Windows or Command-Shift-I on Macintosh to apply that inverse command for the selection. Once I choose that command you'll see that I now have that border area selected in the image. At this point I can apply my adjustment in order to darken up that edge. I'll go ahead and just use a levels adjustment. I'll go to the bottom of the Layers panel, and click on the add Adjustment layer button, the half black, half white circle icon, and I'll choose levels.

And because I have a selection active while I'm adding this adjustment layer, the adjustment layer will automatically be masked so that it only effects this specific area. You can see that I have a new Layers mask attached to my Levels adjustment.There's a white border around the edge of the image. And with a Layer mask, white means reveal. In other words, reveal the Levels adjustment in that area. The central portion of the image is black. And that means block the adjustment. So as I apply a Levels adjustment you'll see I'm only affecting that. The outer edge of the image.

I'm going to start off with a fairly dramatic darkening effect, I'll be able to tone this down a little bit as needed in just a moment, and then I'm going to switch to the Masks section of the Properties panel so that I can apply some feathering. You can see that because my selection was not feathered I have a very crisp transition between the area that I'm darkening. And the rest of the image. So, I'll increase the value for feather in order to blend that area in to the rest of the image and I need to use a relatively high value here so that I get a good degree of blending otherwise there will be an obvious indication of that vignetting effect.

At anytime I can switch back to the actual adjustments and fine tune that vignette but I do want to keep it relatively strong. Because of the feathering it sort of blends in and it might seem like I've lost the feathering effect but I'll go ahead and turn off the visibility for that layers adjustment level and then turn it back on. And you can see it's a rather dramatic effect. I think at this point it's still a little bit too dark so I'll tone that down just a little. And I think that one of the key lessons is that with many adjustments It might seem okay at first, but then when you toggle it off and on, you'll realize that the adjustment was a little bit too aggressive.

I do want to feather the layer mask a little bit more as well. I think, right about there will work pretty well. I'll toggle the visibility for that levels adjustment layer off and then on again. And you can see, we just have this sort of. Framing effect around the edge of the image and I think that really helps add to the drama and also keeps your view inside the image so you don't drift off outside of the photo. With that I think I have my final result. This was an image that quite frankly I didn't think much of when I saw it on the back of my camera. And I still didn't think all that much of it when I downloaded it to my computer and reviewed it.

But the more I thought about the mood I was trying to create in terms of the photographs I was capturing in Bratislava, the more I realized that this image could work very well. And after exploring it just a little bit, I've come away with a result that I'm very happy with.

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