Join Owen Lowery for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating custom vignettes, part of Creating a Handmade Look in After Effects 03: Compositing and Reusing Elements.
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- When considering the limitations of a low-budget stop-motion animation shoot, I assumed there would be a more basic lighting set-up. Maybe as basic as a metal work lamp hanging from an extension cord. I want to mimic this type of lighting so my scene should be a little brighter and washed-out in the center, then darker, possibly a little more saturated at the edges of the frame. To do this, I'll create some custom vignettes using solids, masks, and blending modes. First, I'll move my time indicator over a scene with a little bit more color variety going on.
Scene two seems good. And now I'll make a new solid by going to Layer, New, Solid. I'll make sure to hit Make Comp Size, so the solid's the same size as my composition and I'll re-name it Vignette. Now I'll change the color of this composition to something a little dark and brown. So dark brown that it might as well just be black, but it might have a little bit of that orangish brown tint going on.
I'll hit OK. I'll hit OK again, and now at the top of my composition, I have a vignette. First thing I'll do is grab and pull that below my composition effects layer. I want to double check that this is selected, because I'm going to draw a mask on this vignette and I don't want to accidentally draw a mask on my composite effects layer. So, my composite layer is locked off and I'm good to go. I'll go up an select my pen tool and hit Command minus, just so I can see all around my composition.
Now I'll start clicking points just outside of that composition, but I want to make sure that my vignette down here is selected so I know I'm drawing masks on that specific vignette. When I get to the last point, or the first point I selected, I'll select it again to close the mask. I'm going to hit V to go back to my selection tool and click off of it. Now, this is the exact opposite of what I want. I'm going to click on my vignette and hit M for mask. And I'm going to change this from Add to Subtract.
There we go. Now it's starting to look a little like a vignette. I just need to adjust it a little bit more to get it there. I'm going to select my vignette again and hit M + M really fast to bring up all of my mask properties and I'm going to bring the feather of this up to something like 500 or 600. Really high. I'll click off and immediately if I hit Command + we can see that we've already got this very soft vignette going on. Let me eye-ball that layer on and off for you.
It looks pretty good, but I still want to push this a little bit farther. So, I'm going to add a blending mode to it. Let's go ahead and set vignette to Overlay. What Overlay will do is darken those dark edges a bit, but also kind of make them a bit more saturated. If I hit Cmd + Z , we can compare it that it's a little softer here. But if I go back to Overlay, it really kind of adds some depth and some deep darks at those edges.
Now I don't need it to be this extreme, so I'm going to go to my Mask Opacity, and I'm going to dial it down to about 45. Now, that's a lot lighter, but it makes it a bit more subtle and a bit nicer. If I toggle on and off the eye-ball, we can see how that looks and it really is nice. But I'm not done yet. One vignette is good, but two, well, that's going to add some variety to this. I'm going to close up this mask, close up this vignette, select my vignette, hit Cmd + D to duplicate it.
I'll go ahead and re-name this bottom vignette, by clicking Return on it and I'll name it Vignette I - Overlay, so I know what blending mode it's using. I'll go to the top one, hit Return, and re-name this to Vignette II - Darken. Now, I'll go over to the blending mode and change it from Overlay to Darken. I'm going to his M + M to bring up the mask properties and I'll change its mask opacity from 45 to something like 70.
Now it's much darker. It blends into the blending mode below it and it starts to feel a little different. But, I want this to have even more variety. So, I'll select Vignette II, and I'll start grabbing some of these points and changing them a bit so they're not exactly the same as the overlay. I'm going to hit Command minus to zoom out a little bit. Maybe I'll bring this one out just a touch more, or even bring it in just a touch more.
And I'm going to hit G on my keyboard to bring up my pen tool and even add another point right here. Just kind of bring this up. So there's a bit more variety to how this lands and it's not just one subtle, smooth vignette. It shouldn't look perfect. I'll hit V on my keyboard to go back to my selection tool. I'll close up my vignette and click off of it just to take a look at this. I'm going to hit Command + to zoom in. This looks pretty good.
I'm going to go ahead and turn off the eye-balls on both of these just to compare to how it was before. It's a bit darker. It gets a little brighter in the center and it even has a little bit of that extra opacity towards the center. I'm liking this. So, I'm going to keep these as is. I'll hit Command + S to save my work. And you know what, because I really like the work I did on this mask right here, the amount of feather and that little bit of variety to it so it's not your basic vignette, I want to save the mask.
And I want to save these settings so I can actually apply this later. So I'm going to twirl this open, twirl close the mask and the mask settings , and I'm going to select Mask and Transform controls. I'll go up to Animation, Save Animation Preset, make sure I have my Robot Presets folder selected and I'll change it's name to Mask Vignette Setting. I'm going to hit Save, wait a second, and there we go.
If I open up my Animation Presets and my Robot Presets, I now have my Mask Vignette Settings in here. Just for example, and you don't need to follow along right here, if I made a new solid, let's make this one a little different. Okay. I could then just drag these Mask Vignette Settings right on there and boom, it's exactly the same settings for the mask and even the transform controls that I copied.
Just because I made sure to select those. Look pretty similar, right? I'm going to delete this Dark Orange Solid, because that was just an example, but now I know I have a really good mask vignette setting just to get me started whenever I need it. I'll close up my vignettes and I'm going to go ahead and lock them off so I don't accidentally nudge them out of place. By combining vignettes that use different blending modes, it adds some variety and richness to how the darkness encroaches at the edges of the frame.
One vignette may be enough for the style, but the variety, well, that's what sells the feel.
Want to create the lo-fi mograph effects seen in this course? Check out Creating a Handmade Look in After Effects 02: Design and Animation.
- Saving animation presets
- Repurposing assets
- Compositing effects
- Creating custom vignettes
- Creating a grunge texture with a scanned image
- Adding imperfections to frames
- Exporting your animation