How to vignette your photos

Are you a hobby photographer who wants to take your photo-editing skills to the next level? If so, then our free photo-editing tutorials may be of interest to you.

There are many photo-manipulation programs around, such as Photoshop or Paint, but we’ve found one that you can use for free, regardless of the type of computer you use. It’s called Editor by Pixlr, and it requires no tricky download or installation – and you can use it in your favourite web browser. Editor by Pixlr is an easy-to-use photo-manipulation program that even has a couple of handy smartphone and tablet apps you can use if you don’t have access to a computer. For these lessons we’ll be using the desktop version. Click here to start using Editor by Pixlr.

How to apply a vignette your photographs

This week, we look at how to apply a vignette to your photograph. A vignette is the reduction of brightness at the edges of a photograph where the clarity remains in the centre of the image. By mastering the vignette function in Pixlr, you can create artistic effects that will breathe new life into your photographs. Sound good? Then let’s get started, shall we?

First, let’s open an image. We’re going to use same image that we used in our ‘How to sepia tone your photos’ tutorial.

Now, go to the ‘Filter’ menu at the top of the app page and select ‘Vignette’.

A small pop-up menu box will appear with a slider that changes the size of the vignette. Let’s play around with this a little to see how the vignette filter works.

The size setting sits in the middle at ‘50’, but if we slide the tab to the right to ‘75’, you can see the dark areas at the corners of your photograph (the vignette) move in towards the middle of the image.

If we slide to the right and set the vignette at ‘25’, the dark corners retreat back towards the edge of the image. Okay, so that’s basically how the vignette function works. Hit ‘Cancel’ at the bottom of the Vignette menu box.

We’re going to apply a vignette to the sepia-toned image we created last week. If you missed that tutorial, you can find it here. Open your sepia-toned image, or you can use the colour image you are already using for this tutorial. Once again, go to the ‘Filter’ menu option at the top of the app page, and select ‘Vignette’.

The default colour for the vignette is black, however, the beauty of this filter is that you can also choose the colour of your vignette.

Black seems a little too heavy for the sepia-toned image, so we’re going to play with the colour of the darkened corners to see if we can find something more suitable. With the Vignette menu box open, look for the small black rectangle in the bottom right hand side of the menu box. Click it, and the ‘Colour selector’ menu box will appear. Here you can really take control of the vignette filter.

The colour wheel on the left hand side, allows you to transform the darkened corners from black to any colour you desire. Just move the small circles that appear on the colour wheels until you are happy with the results.

You will notice at the top right hand side of the Colour selector box, a box with one colour at the top and another below. The top colour is the existing vignette colour, and the bottom half of the box shows the colour you are selecting. If you click on a circle in the Colour selector then drag your cursor over your image the ‘Eyedropper’ tool appears. With this tool, hover over one of the darker areas of the image. When you are happy with the colour that the Eyedropper tool is selecting (by hovering over your image colours), release the mouse button and a new colour is selected. Click ‘OK’ when you are satisfied with your new chosen colour.

Presto! Your customised vignette is almost complete. Now, the vignette size is still defaulted to ‘50’. So, drag the tab left or right to increase the size of the vignette until you are happy with the results. Don’t fret if you are not happy with the end result. You can simply go to the ‘Edit’ menu option at the top of the app page and select ‘Undo’. You can hit undo as many times as you need.

This is how the image will appear with a size setting of ‘75’. Whilst it looks quite dramatic, it may still be a little too heavy for that classic old-style look.

So, let’s slide that tab across to the left and reduce the darkened areas at the corners. With a size setting of ‘25’, the image has a nice balance of ‘drama’ whilst still maintaining that traditional sepia-toned look and feel.

When you are happy with how your image appears, go to the ‘File’ menu option at the top of the app page, and scroll down to ‘Save’. A save menu box will appear and all you have to do is select the save option you desire.

Now you know how to place a vignette around an image. Why not play around with more of your favourite photos and see what sort of effects you can master? Keep an eye out for more free photo-editing lessons and you’ll have professional-looking photographs in no time.

If you have any questions about how to manipulate your favourite photographs, send an email to [email protected], and we’ll put together an easy tutorial for you.

Other free photo-editing lessons

How to sepia tone your photos

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.