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The blend modes in Photoshop offer incredible creative options for designers and photographers wanting to enhance images. In Photoshop Blend Mode Magic, Michael Ninness shows Photoshop users how to access and apply blend modes efficiently to achieve an aesthetic vision. He explains the building blocks of layer blending and demonstrates how blend modes can be used for color correction, sharpening, blending images together, adding dramatic glow, applying custom edge treatments, and many other creative effects. Michael also introduces advanced blending options for more experienced Photoshop users. Most of all, he demystifies this essential feature in plain, easy-to-understand terms and inspires photographers to use blend modes in ways they may have never considered before. Exercise files accompany the course.
I want to give you a really quick technique for adding a custom vignette to an image. Now sometimes a vignette happens naturally when you have actually taken a photograph, depending on what type of lens you are using, and what kind of light you are shooting in. You may see a darkening of corners on a particular image, and that's often thought of as a vignette. Other folks may want to add a vignette after the fact and what a vignette tends to do is it draws attention to the area that you want the viewer to be looking at. Your eye naturally goes to the brightest part of an image, so the idea is that if you darken other parts of the image, your eye will ignore those and go to the brightest portion of the image first.
So in this case the subject matter of course is Sophia here in the center. This is not an as interesting part of the image. So we want to draw more attention to this portion of the image by darkening the edges and the corners. So let's begin. What I'm going to do is again create an Overlay layer filled with gray, so that it doesn't affect the image and then the darkening will added on to the Overlay layer and will darken the underlying image. To create an overlay layer, let's hold down the Option key or the Alt key, and click on the New Layer icon. We'll go ahead and call it vignette, and we'll change the blend mode to Overlay, and fill it with its neutral color, 50% gray.
Click OK. Again, no effect because we haven't done anything to this layer. It's just 50% gray and Overlay ignores that. There is actually a filter that will help us create a vignette in very quick easy step, it's under the Filter menu, Distort > Lens Correction. And you may have never thought to use it for this purpose, but right there in Lens Correction is a Vignette slider, and you can use it to darken an image or lighten an image. And you can see the preview over here of what's happening in the corners. The Grid may be distracting in this image so I'm going to turn off the Grid.
So I'm going to put the darken all the way over to the left. You can also change the mid points if you want to bring the darkening in more to the center of the image, you could do that, if you want to spread it out a little bit, just Tab the absolute corners darken, you can do that as well. I just want to bring it in just a little bit like that. And go ahead and click OK, and now you see the vignette, the thumbnail has been updated with that Lens Distortion filter, and I can see before and after, so I get that nice darkening in the corners. Now if I decide that I want to add to this, I want there to be darkening on the edges as well, then I can just continue to paint with black on this layer. I'm going to get my Brush tool, B for brush, I have got a nice big soft brush here.
I'm going to start with pretty low Opacity, maybe 30%, looks good. Press or type 3 on your keyboard if you don't already have that and I'm just going to put the center of my brush here right in the upper left hand corner of the document window. I am going to click-and-drag across in one stroke there. I'll do the same thing for this edge, start in the corner, drag down, again to the bottom, center the brush on the edge and drag across. And then once more on the left edge there and you can see I have added the darkening around the outside edge there. I'll do fit to window, Command+0, Ctrl+0, maybe go down one, Command+Minus or Ctrl+Minus, and now I can see my before and after.
So very flexible technique for creating a custom vignette, it's just an Overlay layer filled with 50% gray, or on the Lens Distortion filter, or just paint manually with black or white if you want to go the opposite direction, just lower or increase your Opacity by typing a number when you have your Brush tool selected. It's a very, very fun technique to add a little bit of focus and direction for your viewer, where you want them to look at in an image.
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