How to add a Vignette with the Effects Panel

How to add a Vignette with the Effects Panel

This post was updated on September 3rd, 2020

Learning Adobe ® Lightroom

Last time we explored the Transform Panel of Adobe ® Lightroom. Today we continue our studies with the Effects Panel, which allows you to create Vignettes and Grain in your image. This article shows you how to add a Vignette with the Effects Panel, the next blog post in this series is going to show you how to add Grain.

The Layout of the Effects Panel

The Effects Panel consists of two sections, the Vignette, and the Grain section.

The Effects Panel with the Vignetting and the Grain Section
The Effects Panel with the Vignetting and the Grain Section

In the following paragraphs, we look into how to add a Vignette to your photograph, while the next article will teach you how to add Grain with the Effects Panel. Grain and Vignettes do not depend on each other, nor are they opposite concepts. You can, therefore, use the Effects panel to add both at the same time to one image or chose just one of the two.

Adding Vignettes with the Effects Panel

In the “How to use the Lens Corrections Panel” articles, we learned how to remove a Vignette from a photograph. So why would we add them now?

The Lens Corrections Panel aims to create an image of uniform brightness by minimizing optical distortions created by your lens. Contrary to this, the Vignette section in the Effects Panel aims to create Vignettes for artistic reasons, mainly to emphasize the center of your image.

Do you need a bright or dark Vignette?

Have you ever noticed how the lighter parts of a photograph draw your eye toward them? Sometimes the brightest sections of a picture are in the corners of the image. Of course, this might be preventable by using a different composition. However, sometimes the best layout of your photo has those brighter edges. These edges lead the viewer’s eye out of your image, instead of dragging him into it. A well-designed vignette can help you to pull your viewers toward the subject of the photo by darkening those edges.

Sometimes you might want to create a bright vignette instead. Maybe, you want to create the effect as of looking through a window? Or to give your image an aged look? After all, those photos from the early 1900s often, if not always, came with a bright vignette.

Whichever variant you decide to use, remember that subtleness is the key. A subtle Vignette, barely visible, can enhance your image significantly; however, a bold one can have the opposite effect. Since we are talking about artistic decisions, there is no rule without exceptions.

Other tools that can help to create a Vignette

Though the Effects Panel can help you create beautiful Vignettes for your pictures, it is not the only tool in Adobe ® Lightroom that can do so. We will, in a later article, explore how you can create even more flexible Vignettes with the Radial Filter Tool. But for now, let’s have a look at the Sliders of the Vignette section and how they help you.

Sliders and menus of the Vignette section in the Effects Panel

Sliders and Menus of the Effects Panel's Vignette Section
Sliders and menus of the Effects Panel’s Vignette section

Amount Slider

You determine with this slider if you want to create a dark (move to the left) or bright (move to the right) Vignette. In its initial position, it also deactivates all other sliders of the Vignette section. Furthermore, only if you create a dark Vignette, this slider will activate the Highlights slider further down.

The further you move the slider to the left/right, the darker/brighter your Vignette is going to look.

Creating a Bright Vignette with the Effects Panel by moving the Amount Slider to the right
Creating a Bright Vignette by moving the Amount Slider to the right
A dark Vignette created by moving the Amount slider to the left

Midpoint Slider

You determine the size of the Vignette by moving the Midpoint Slider to the left or right.

The farther to the right you move the slider, the smaller the area that is covered by your Vignette. If you move it to the 0-position, your Vignette will only leave a tiny section in the center of your image uncovered. If you set it to the 100-position, your Vignette will cover only a small part of your image.

Moving the Midpoint Slider to the left to create a larger Vignette
Moving the Midpoint Slider to the left
Creating a smaller Vignette by moving the Midpoint Slider right
Creating a smaller Vignette by moving the Midpoint Slider right

Memory hook for positioning the Midpoint Slider

How much of your original photo is visible? 0-position almost everything is covered up with a Vignette, and almost nothing of your original photo is visible. 100-position nearly your entire original image is visible.

Roundness Slider

As the name suggests, this slider determines how close to a circular look your Vignette has. If you move it entirely to the left, your image will look like it has got rounded edges. If you move the slider to the right, your cutout from the Vignette becomes more and more circular until it is a full circle.

Moving the Roundness Slider to the left, creates rounded edges as Vignette
Moving the Roundness Slider to the left, creates rounded edges
The Roundness Slider moved to the right creates a more circular Vignette
The Roundness Slider moved to the right

Feather Slider

This slider determines how hard or soft the transition from your original photo into the Vignette is. The more feathering you add, the smoother the transition.

The 0-position creates the hardest transition, comparable to using a cut-out passe-partout. The 100-position creates a very subtle change, where the Vignettes reaches its full effect only in the uttermost corners.

Creating a hard transition by moving the Feather Slider to the left
Creating a hard transition by moving the Feather Slider to the left
Creating a soft transition by moving the Feather slider to the right
Creating a soft transition by moving the Feather slider to the right

In the two images above, notice how the first Vignette appears to be larger, even though the Midpoint Slider is in the exact same position as in the second picture. This effect is created by the Feathering amount, which also make the sides of the second Vignette look washed-out.

Highlights Slider

This slider is only available if you are creating a dark Vignette. And even then, it is restricted to the Highlight Priority and the Color Priority Styles.

The Highlights Slider determines how much of the original highlights of your image to preserve when a Vignette covers that area. This slider only affects Highlights within the Vignette; it does not make any changes to the Highlights in your uncovered regions.

In the 0-position, your Highlights are covered up by the Vignette. Whereas, in the 100-position, the Vignette preserves the Highlights of the underlying original to close to 100%.

Example for using the Highlights Slider for dark Vignettes

Let’s use the following photo as a base:

Image with no Vignette added
Image with no Vignette added

To show the effect of the Highlights Slider, I am adding a dark vignette, like this:

Dark Vignette added to the photograph
Dark Vignette added to the photograph

Pay attention to the clouds in next photograph.

Dark Vignette with Highlights Slider adjustment
Dark Vignette with Highlights Slider adjustment

If you compare the last two figures, you can clearly see the effect of the Highlights Slider in the clouds but also in the lower right part of the image. It makes the entire Vignette a little more subtle. Though, I would not use this as my final image, because in my opinion the lower left side still has a far too bold Vignette. However, it is a good demonstration image 🙂

Style Menu of the Vignettes Section

Vignettes created in Adobe ® Lightroom don’t have to look like a section of your image being painted over in black or white. They can if you decide that they should. The Styles menu gives you three options to apply Vignettes to your photo. Let’s have a look first as what the different styles are defined, before we look at examples for each style, for both dark and bright Vignettes.

Highlight Priority

This style preserves highlights located below a Vignette to as high a degree as possible. Highlight Priority can be a good selection if it is more important to protect the lights than to preserve the colors of your image in the Vignette. If you select this style, you have, with the Highlights Slider, the choice to define the degree of protection for the Highlights.

Color Priority

This style minimizes the color changes within the Vignette part of your image. Color Priority can be a good selection if preserving the color is more important than protecting the highlights. This setting can change the color within the Vignette and can create a somewhat washed-out look. Color Priority, in combination with the Highlights slider, defines the degree of protection for the highlights.

Paint Overlay

It paints a black or a white Vignette over your image, without protecting either the colors or the highlights.

Using the different Styles for your Vignettes

These style settings come with a twist, though. In some cases, the Color Priority selection can act the way you would expect Paint Overlay to work. And similar for Highlights Priority and Paint Overlay. How these settings affect your photo depends on the colors and highlights in your image. If you choose to add a Vignette to a photo with few colors to start with, Color Priority does not have much to preserve and might look like Paint Overlay. So you will have to play with the styles to find the one that you like best for each photo to which you want to add a Vignette.

Three examples for different results from just the style setting

In this section, we will compare the effects that a change of style has for the Vignette when the slider settings are the same across the three photographs.

A colorful image with few highlights

The original photograph without Vignette is this waterdrop photo.

Waterdrop Image without Vignette
Waterdrop Image without Vignette

As you can see, it has vivid colors, but the corners of the image don’t have strong highlights.

Now let us add a bright Vignette and try the different styles. Notice, that the only setting that is changed between the next three images is the Style Setting, no other Slider will be moved to achieve the different outcomes.

Waterdrop Image with a bright Vignette with Highlights Priority Style
Bright Vignette with Highlights Priority Style
Using the Color Priority Style for the bright Vignette
Using the Color Priority Style for the bright Vignette
Paint Overlay Style with a bright Vignette
Paint Overlay Style with a bright Vignette

Next, let us try what happens if we use a dark Vignette for the same photo.

Highlights Priority in a dark Vignette for a bold colored image
Highlight Priority for a dark Vignette
Color Priority for a bold colored image with a dark Vignette
Color Priority for a dark Vignette
Paint Overlay for a dark Vignette
Paint Overlay for a dark Vignette

Now, when you look at the Style descriptions above, would you have anticipated this outcome?

But can you guess how the Vignette would look like with its different styles for other photos?

A vivid photograph with some highlights in the corners

For the second example, we are going to use this image from the Rozhen Pyramids – also known as Melnik Pyramids.

Rozhen Pyramids without Vignette
Rozhen Pyramids without Vignette

Especially in the bottom right, you can see some of the sandstone creating a highlight in the image. The Vignette that I want to apply to this photograph should tone down this corner so that the sandstone pyramid in the center of the image becomes the main subject. Even though it does not make much sense for this photo to try our luck with a white Vignette, let’s do it for the sake of this blog post anyway.

Rozhen Pyramids with a white Vignette and Highlights Priority
Rozhen Pyramids with a white Vignette and Highlights Priority
Color Priority Style for a bright Vignette
Color Priority Style for a bright Vignette
Paint Overlay Style for a bright Vignette
Paint Overlay Style for a bright Vignette

As mentioned above, a bright Vignette does not make much sense for this image. However, a dark one might put the emphasis on the center of the image. Let’s have a look how that would look in the different styles.

Highlights Priority for a dark Vignette
Highlights Priority for a dark Vignette
Rozhen Pyramids with a Black Vignette and Color Priority
Rozhen Pyramids with a Black Vignette and Color Priority
Paint Overlay Style for the dark Vignette
Paint Overlay Style for the dark Vignette

Once more, the Paint Overlay Style looks a little different from what I would have expected from its definition. In this case it makes for the most subtle Vignette of the three. Of course, if I were to use the Highlights Slider for the Color or Highlights Priority Vignette I could maybe reach other results.

A picture with little contrast and few highlights

The photograph that we are going to use for this comparison is from Djúpivogur in Iceland.

Djúpivogur in Iceland, without Vignette
Djúpivogur in Iceland, without Vignette

As you can see, this picture does not have definite highlights, and the coloring is mostly tone-in-tone. So let’s have a look, what effect the different Vignette Styles have for this image.

White Vignette with a Highlight Priority Style added
White Vignette with a Highlight Priority Style added
Color Priority Style Vignette
Bright Vignette with a Paint Overlay Style
Bright Vignette with a Paint Overlay Style

If I had to choose any of these bright Vignettes for the photograph, I would have gone for either Color Priority or Paint Overlay. But, there are also dark Vignettes that I can chose from, so let’s have a look how those would look like in the different styles.

Dark Vignette with Highlights Priority
Dark Vignette with Highlights Priority
Color Priority Style for a dark Vignette
Color Priority Style for a dark Vignette
Paint Overlay Vignette
Paint Overlay Vignette

I think, if I had to choose one of these without further adjustments, I would again choose the Paint Overlay Style because it appears more subtle than the other two. However, this result is more of a coincidence than a rule. So when you are creating your Vignettes with the Effects Panel in Adobe ® Lightroom, you should try all three styles to find the one that fits your photograph.


All trademarks and copyrighted items mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

I am in no way affiliated with any of the products used in this post-processing process. I do not receive any kind of compensation for this article, it was neither offered or asked for.

THIS BLOG ARTICLE “How to add a Vignette with the Effects Panel” IS NOT AUTHORIZED, ENDORSED OR SPONSORED BY ADOBE SYSTEMS INCORPORATED, PUBLISHER OF ADOBE ® LIGHTROOM

All photos taken by Wiebke Schröder/Lille Ulven Photography.

Comments are closed.
Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com
%d bloggers like this: