How to Make a Vignette with
Photoshop Elements

In this tutorial we'll see how to make a vignette with Photoshop Elements.

A vignette is a technique that the pros use to draw the viewers attention to the main subject of the photo.

They do that by slightly darkening the edges of the photo, and then gradually lessening the effect as you approach the subject of the photo.

Here's a before-and-after look at a photo that has a typical vignette applied to it:

First we'll discover the quick-and-easy technique that only takes a couple clicks of the mouse. But the results look like it took much longer.

The reason that it's quick-and-easy is because you use "Guided" edit mode. It does much of the work for you but still let's you make some decisions of how your vignette looks.

After seeing how the "Guided" method works, we'll see how you can manually make a vignette, which allows more customization.

Watch the video below to see all the details. Under the video I give a summary of the steps from the video!

Follow The Steps Below To Make A Vignette In "Guided" Edit Mode

STEP ONE- Go Into Guided Edit Mode.

In order to make a vignette with this technique you must be using Photoshop Elements 11 or newer.

That's because the "Vignette Effect" wasn't added to PS Elements until PSE 11.

If you're using PSE 10 or older follow the steps for creating a custom vignette following this Guided Edit technique.

Start by going into "Guided" mode. To do that just click on "Guided" at the top of the window.

STEP TWO- Set "View" To "Before & After - Horizontal".

Click on the "View" field near the upper-left of the window. From the drop-down list choose "Before & After - Horizontal".

Now you'll be able to see a before & after view side-by-side in the Active Image Area.

STEP THREE- Show "Camera Effects" In PSE 13.

If you're using Photoshop Elements 13 go to the panel on the right side of the window and click on the arrow next to Camera Effects to reveal the drop-down list.

If you're using Photoshop Elements 11 or 12 go to the panel on the right side of the window and click on the arrow next to Photo Effects to reveal the drop-down list.

STEP FOUR- Choose "Vignette Effect".

From the drop-down list choose Vignette Effect by clicking on it.

The Vignette Effect Panel will appear.

Follow the instructions in the Panel to make a vignette. When you're happy with the results, click "Done" to close the vignette effect panel and accept the changes.

At this point you might want to go back to "Expert" mode. To do that click on "Expert" at the top of your window.

That completes the steps for using Guided edit to quickly make a vignette in Photoshop Elements 11 and newer.

Next well see how to make a custom vignette. This custom technique will also work in older versions of Elements.

Follow The Steps Below To Make A Custom Vignette In Photoshop Elements

STEP ONE - Make Sure You're In "Expert" Or "Full" Edit Mode.

To make a vignette using this technique we need to be in Expert or Full edit mode.

They're both the same mode. Adobe changed the wording from Full to Expert beginning in PSE 11.

So if you're using Photoshop Elements 11 or newer you'll find "Expert" at the top of your window.

Click on "Expert" if you're using PSE 11 or newer

If you're using Photoshop Elements 10 or older you'll find "Full" in the panel on the right side of your window.

Click on "Full" if you're using PSE 10 or older

STEP TWO - Create A New Layer.

Click on the "Create a new Layer" icon at the top of the Layers Panel. In older versions of PS Elements it's at the bottom of the Layers Panel.

A new Layer is added to the Layers Panel.

STEP THREE - Fill The New Layer With Black.

To fill the new Layer with black, go up to the Edit menu and choose "Fill Layer . . .".

The Fill Layer dialog box appears. Click on the field labeled "Use".

From the pop-up list choose "Black" by clicking on it. Then click "OK" to close the box and commit to the change.

You'll notice that your photo in the Active Image Area turns to black. Also the thumbnail for Layer 1 in the Layers panel turns black.

STEP FOUR - Turn Visibility Off For New Layer.

Temporarily turn off the visibility of Layer 1 by clicking on its Eye in the Layers Panel.

STEP FIVE - Draw A Selection Around Your Subject.

If you want to make a vignette that looks similar to the Guided Edit method, use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to draw a round Selection around your subject.

If you want a custom vignette, use the Lasso Tool to draw a Selection that follows the shape of your subject.

STEP SIX - Invert The Selection.

The subject of your photo is now Selected as indicated by the marching ants. We want the opposite of that. We want everything in the photo except for the subject to be Selected.

We can easily do that by inverting our Selection. To do that go up to the Select menu and choose "Inverse" by clicking on it.

Or use the keyboard shortcut Shift-Command-I on a Mac or Shift-Control-I on a PC.

Now we have the Selection the way we want it to be. Most of the photo is Selected except for the subject. In other words most of the background of the photo is Selected.

STEP SEVEN - Turn On Visibility And Add A Layer Mask.

Turn the visibility back on for Layer 1 by clicking on its Eye in the
Layers Panel.

The view of our photo in the Active Image Area is replaced by black because black is all that's on Layer 1. And since Layer 1 is over the Background Layer in the Layers Panel it covers up the view of the Background Layer in the Active Image Area.

We also see our Selection represented by the marching ants. Now let's add a Layer Mask to Layer 1.

If you add a Layer Mask when there's an active Selection (like we have in our example), the Layer Mask will be based on the active Selection.

To add a Layer Mask click on the "add Layer Mask" icon in the Layers Panel. It looks like a circle inside of a square.

After adding the Layer Mask our Selection goes away because it's converted into our Layer Mask.

In the Active Image Area we can see the subject of the photo because the Layer Mask is black in that part of the photo. If you know how Layer Masks work you know that black conceals the area of its Layer from the Active Image Area.

And since that area of Layer 1 is being concealed, we can see through that area to the Layer below which in our example is the Background Layer.

What's on that area of the Background Layer that we can now see in the Active Image Area? It's our subject which in this example is the humming bird.

STEP EIGHT - Blur The Layer Mask.

At this point our photo in the Active Image Area looks nothing like a vignette. That's because the edges of our Layer Mask are too sharp.

A vignette is a gradual fade from the subject to the dark edges, not the blunt transition we have now.

To make a vignette we need to blur the Layer Mask. To do that go up to the Filter menu and choose Blur>Gaussian Blur.

The Gaussian Blur dialog box appears.

Make sure that the "Preview" button is checked. That will allow you to see the affect you're having on your photo in real time in the Active Image Area.

If the Radius Slider isn't all the way over to the left, click-and-drag it there. Once you drag it over to the left the Radius box will read
0.1 pixels.

Slowly drag the Radius Slider towards the right to increase the Radius amount. As you drag the slider watch the blurriness increase over in the Active Image Area.

When you're happy with the amount of blur click "OK" to close the dialog box and commit to the change.

And that completes this tutorial on how to make a vignette in
Photoshop Elements.

I hope you found it helpful!

Until next time . . .

Take care!
Rick Peterson

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