This is a quick and easy action which I use often. While so many photographers (myself included) spend time and money in software to correct for light falloff, I like to go the other direction and introduce it sometimes. Of course, there are times and places where a darkened vignette doesn’t make sense, and that time, and cost spent to correct it come into play, but for the times you’d like to delicately direct attention to a specified area, this action can help that happen. Also, you can completely determine the “shape” of the vignette to suit the frame. C’mon in and see the difference a vignette can make.
Sometimes, distracting backgrounds, edges or corners can be immediately tempered with a simple vignette. If done with a light hand, you can even make it appear as if it isn’t even there. Follow along, or download the action via Presetpond via the link below.
To manually record the action and input your own personalized modification, follow along.
First, what we need to do for this action, and so that it records properly allowing us to alter the area vignetted from image to image, is to FIRST, select the area where you would like the vignette to be placed around. Using the Lasso Tool (L), make a rough selection around the area of the image that you want to have the vignette around (doesn’t need to be pixel perfect as this will very gradually blend out to the edges of the frame).
NEXT, we start recording our action. When using this action, you will always need to make a selection (using the Lasso is the easiest way, or use the selection tool of your choice, beauty is you can change it from image to image because of how we’re creating this).
To record an action, we must first create a place for it to live. In your Action palette, click on the “Create new action” icon at the bottom. I like to add simple instructions to my action names, for instance, I’ve named this one “Simple Vignette (select area first)” and by adding the parenthetical direction, it reminds me that I need to first select the area that I want the vignette to appear with my lasso tool (L) so that the action can be specific to the image I’m wanting to apply a vignette to. Create or choose a “set” for your action to live in, name it (if it’s not a pre-existing set) and click record.
- With the Lasso Tool (or selection tool of choice) still active, and area in our image selected, from the top control bar choose SELECT>MODIFY>FEATHER. I prefer to max the feather out to 250px. A smaller number will create a harder transition for our vignette. I would suggest a feather setting of at least 100px, but you can decide this to suit your style. Based on the amount of megapixels your image contains, you may want to adjust the feathering down a little bit as it is a physical measurement of distance where distance in this case is measured in pixels. As a starting point, if you’re camera is 10mpx or less, go with 150-200 pixel feather, if 10-15mpx I’d say about 200 would be good, 20+mpx, push it all the way to 250 and Press OK.
- With our area selected using our Lasso tool active on our background image, the next thing we want to do is to select the inverse of that selection by pressing SHIFT+COMMAND(Control-PC) + “I” which will send the marching ants to the outer border, effectively selecting the area which we are going to add the vignette to.
- Duplicate the inverse of our Selection by pressing COMMAND(Control-PC) + “J” which, as you will notice will copy only the selection which will become our vignette. Switch the blend mode of this duplicated layer to “MULTIPLY” and viola!
- At the bottom of the Actions Palette, push the stop button (The square that looks like a stop button).
The only thing left to do is to adjust the Opacity of the Vignette/Duplicate layer to suit the image and you’re golden. Don’t like the way it turned out? Delete that Vignette/Duplicate layer and start over by selecting the area and pushing Play (the triangular button that looks like a play button) at the bottom of the Actions Palette, or if you’re getting to a vignette that is too defined, drag your newly recorded action to the trash and start over using a higher pixel count in the feathering step.
Here are a few images with the vignette applied followed by their original, non-vignette version for comparison:
If you’d like to download my action, you can do it FOR FREE HERE. You’ll need to sign into presetpond, but that is merely the task of setting up an email account and password. Thomas is a good guy and has created a great resource by allowing users to add and download actions and presets for a variety of software entirely for free.
The true beauty of recording and using a quick and easy action like this is that it’s a fast way to repeat a simple, yet effective effect, and it takes all of 5 seconds to do so. Lasso your image, push play and adjust opacity. Done.
Enjoy, and as always, I’d love to see any results in our Flickr group HERE. If you’d like to receive an email when I post new articles, just add your email address at the top right of the page and thanks for coming by.
For more free Photoshop Actions and such, try these articles: