Adding a vignette is a treatment that has been popular with wedding and portrait photographers since cameras were first used. The idea is to create a dark (low key) or light (high key) circle or oval around your photo. In the past it was done using either filters on the camera lens or dodging and burning masks in the darkroom. Now it can be done digitally with your image editing program.
Step 1: Choose a suitable photo
Choose a suitable photo - one with some space around the subject is best. For a high key vignette make sure the surrounds have lighter tones and for a low key vignette choose a shot with a darker background.
Step 2: Create an oval selection
With the Elliptical Marquee tool selected, click at the top left and drag to the bottom right of the area you want to make a vignette around. This will place a dotted line (referred to as marching ants) oval around the subject. You can click in the center of this and hold down the mouse to move the position of the oval.
Step 3: Invert the selection
nvert the selection
To select the background rather than the subject, invert the selection you've just made. Select>Inverse (shortcut key Shift+Ctrl+I) You will still see the marching ants oval around the subject, but the rectangular edge of the frame is now also selected. What you have done is made all the area that wasn't originally selected active.
Step 4: Feather the selection
If you left the selection as it is and apply a filter the edge of the selection would be hard so the change would be a sudden on or off effect. We need to blend this and soften the filter effect. To do this we feather the selection. this blurs the boundaries of the change. So any marching ant area becomes diffused (feathered). Select>Modify>Feather.
The amount you enter in the Feather Radius box depends on the size of the file. If it's a small 2mp file set a radius of around 50-100, if it's like this one (a 10mp file) set a larger radius. What we are aiming for is a very blurred line.
Step 5: Add the vignette
There are many ways you could add the vignette. You could use Levels or Curves, you could add a new layer and fill the area, you could paint one in. We are going for a quick and easy option of adjusting the lightness. From the menu go to Hue/Saturation...Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation (Ctrl+U). And drag the lightness slider across to the right.
That's all there is to it - quick and easy vignette.
Creating a low key vignette
For a low key vignette take exactly the same steps, but at Step 5 drag the lightness slider across to the left.
You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.