How to Create a Vignette in Camera Raw

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May 11, 2021
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Vignettes are fun border effects that can be applied to photos to enhance the focus of interest. Oftentimes, photographers and editors will apply vignettes to portraits, landscape shots and photos that need something special accentuated. Oftentimes, the vignette will subtly draw the eye inward with a soft transition, but I’m increasingly seeing them as more dominant areas of the photo with more defined edges. Either way, vignettes can truly enhance the look of a picture and it’s helpful to know how and when to use them.

How to Add & Adjust a Border Vignette in Camera Raw​

In today’s post, I’ll be demonstrating where to find the vignette controls in Adobe Camera Raw. Then, I’ll apply a vignette and adjust it by pushing the various sliders in different directions. I’ll explain what a vignette is, what each slider does and how the different settings can affect the look of a photo.

Vignette Controls​

If you launch a photo into Camera Raw and click the Effects tab, you’ll see the controls that reside in the Post Crop Vignetting section. The reason it’s called post crop is because any vignette that’s applied to a photo will shrink or expand with that photo, no matter how it’s cropped in Camera Raw. It’s fluid, which is important to remember because as you crop, in general, the photo area becomes smaller. Any vignetting that’s applied will remain as a certain percentage of the area of the photo. A good rule to follow is that you should do any cropping necessary before applying a vignette. That will save time later on if you have to go back and readjust the vignette to better fit the cropped image.


If you look at the above screenshot, you’ll notice that I circled the Effects tab and outlined the vignette sliders. This is where I’ll be working for this post.

Post Crop Vignette Controls​

Currently, there are eight available controls for this area. Three of them can be found in a drop-down menu and five can be found as sliders. I’ll cover what each one does below.

Drop-Down Menu​

Highlight Priority: Vignettes usually apply to the entire edge of an image. If Highlight Priority is selected from the drop-down menu, parts of this uniform vignette will be removed in favor of the highlights involved. So, if there is a bright street light towards the top of an otherwise evenly toned photo, the vignetting around the street light will be removed, creating, in my opinion, a more interesting effect. One thing to be aware of, though, is that there may be some unexpected changes in colors towards the more dark areas of the photo’s edges. In general, this type of option is recommended for use with photos where the highlighted areas are critical to the presentation of the photo itself.

Color Priority: This option takes the photo’s color hues into consideration while applying the vignette. In the above option, the vignetting was only affected by the highlights in the photo, while with this option, all areas can potentially be affected. If you experiment with Color Priority, you’ll find that there’s more transparency around the edges, with some of the more bold colors making their ways through. A word of warning, though, is that while Color Priority is selected, there may be a reduction of photo detail around the areas of highlights.

Paint Overlay: The Paint Overlay option simply blends the original colors that are found in the image with either pure black or pure white. While this option can reduce contrast and while many editors find this characteristic unappealing, it can be effective if a soft effect is sought after.


Amount: If you push this slider to the left, the edges and corners of the image will appear darker (black). If you push this slider to the right, the same areas will appear lighter (white).

Midpoint: This slider controls how large the area the vignetting will be applied to is. If the slider is pushed to the left, the area affected will be smaller, resulting in a more prominent and thicker vignette around the image. If pushed to the right, the area inside the vignette will be expanded and the edge effect will become thinner.

Roundness: This slider controls the shape of the vignette. If the slider is pushed to the left, the vignette will take the shape of a rounded edged square, while if the slider is pushed to the right, the vignette will take the shape of a circle.

Feather: This slider controls the softness of the border effect. If the slider is pushed to the left, the vignette becomes hard and more defined, while if the slider is pushed to the right, the edge becomes more soft and feathered, which will blend with the photo.

Highlights: This control can only be used when Highlight Priority or Color Priority are selected from the above drop-down box. When either of these are selected, this slider controls the strength of the highlights that will show through the vignette. If this slider is pushed to the left, no highlights will be visible through the vignette and if pushed to the right, all highlights will be visible.

Examples of Different Vignettes​

In this section, I’ll display a few different examples of various vignette drop-down and slider settings. While I won’t show all possible scenarios, the photos below will give you a good idea of what one can accomplish while using this feature.

This first image is an example of a dark, oval vignette. I’m using:

Highlight Priority
Amount: -100
Midpoint: 0
Roundness: 0
Feather: 50
Highlights: 0


This next image is an example of a light, round vignette. I’m using:

Color Priority
Amount: +100
Midpoint: 75
Roundness: +50
Feather: 20
Highlights: Unavailable


This final image is an example of a darker, semi-transparent, rounded square edged vignette. I’m using:

Paint Overlay
Amount: -50
Midpoint: 25
Roundness: -50
Feather: 0
Highlights: Unavailable


While these examples are somewhat limited, I think I displayed enough variety for you to take the bull by the horns and experiment with this important feature found inside Adobe Camera Raw. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment area below. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!

PS – If you’re interested in the settings I used for the lead-in photo for this post, they were:

Highlight Priority
Amount: -68
Midpoint: 50
Roundness: -45
Feather: 100
Highlights: 100


May 11, 2021
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How to Create a Custom Vignette in Adobe Camera Raw​

In a previous post, I wrote about how you can create a vignette to enhance a photograph in Adobe Camera Raw. If you’d like to read that post, please click the link below.

How to Add & Adjust a Border Vignette in Adobe Camera Raw

In my previous post, I walked through the process of visiting the Effects panel and more specifically, the Post Crop Vignetting section. Inside of that section, there are a few sliders that control different aspects of the vignette. Size, shape and color, among other things. Overall, this is a great feature to use in Camera Raw to get things done. It’s fairly robust.

The thing is, there may be times when this Post Crop Vignette feature doesn’t do everything you want it to. For instance, let’s say you wanted to expand the vignette so it wasn’t visible on the top or the bottom of the photo, yet it was still visible on either side. I’m sure there’s a way you could probably finagle that by some other means, but there’s an easier way to go.

In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the process of creating a custom vignette in Adobe Camera Raw while using the Radial Filter tool. Honestly, I think once you use the Radial Filter to create and customize vignettes, you won’t likely use the previous method too often. It’s really flexible.

By the way, I’ve already written a post that talks about the Radial Filter tool. To review it, visit the link below.

How to Use the Radial Filter in Adobe Camera Raw

The Demo Photo​

I thought a nice portrait photo would be perfect for this post, so I located a really great one. You can’t beat this. Take a look.


Below, I’ll show you how to go about adding some edge effects to the photo. By the time you’re finished reading this post, you’ll know how you can lighten, darken, resize and color many different types of vignettes and edges with the Radial Filter tool in Camera Raw.

Making Adjustments Via the Basic Panel​

Editing a photo just wouldn’t be the same without my usual Basic panel adjustments. So, with that in mind, I’ll go ahead and push a few sliders around. If you’d like to learn about my method, you can review the post below.

How To Make A Photo “Pop” With Adobe Camera Raw

Here are my adjustments:


And here is the adjusted photo:


It isn’t a drastic difference. Just enough to make the photo look a bit better.

Setting Up the Radial Filter Tool​

Next comes the meat of this post. To make the following as clear as possible, I’m going to show you a concept. It’s all rather simple and really only focuses on one important step. With this concept in hand, you’ll be able to apply it to a variety of different ideas.

To activate the Radial Filter tool, I’ll press J on my keyboard. After that, I’ll head to the small menu that’s located at the top right of the Radial Filter panel. I’ll click the menu and then select the Reset Local Correction Settings option.


Doing this will reset all the sliders. Now, at this point, I can’t just go ahead and begin to draw my radius with the tool. Because no sliders have been set, I’ll receive an error. I need to move at least one slider. So, knowing that I want to darken the edges of the photo, I’ll reduce the exposure by pushing the Exposure slider to the left. Then I’ll begin to draw.


Hmmm, this looks a little weird. I thought I wanted to darken the edges of the photo, not the other way around. I’ll need to reverse the effects of the filter. To do so, I’ll head all the way down to the bottom of the Radial Filter panel to the Effect section. In this section, there are two options. One of them is Outside and the other is Inside.


The current option has made any effect I create affect what’s inside of the radius. Since I want my changes to affect what’s outside the sphere, I’ll click the Outside option. This will reverse things.


Ahh, that’s better. I’m sure you see where this is going.

At this point, the world of vignettes is open to me. I’ve got a radial filter set up and anything I do to it will affect what’s around it. I also have many sliders at my disposal. To kick things off, I think I’ll first stretch the radial so it’s tall and skinny. That way, only the sides of the radius will show in the photo.


See? I already broke out of the traditional vignette shackles. Next, I’ll push some sliders to make the effect look somewhat good.


Okay, I think that looks pretty good. Let’s see the final photo.


Now that’s what I’m talking about! Not only is it a vignette, it’s a super special one. I really accentuated what’s around the boy in the photo, which is what I intended to do. I think the result looks great.

So, here’s the lesson for today. If you want to create a traditional vignette, feel free to use the Post Crop Vignetting area of the Effects panel. That will give you most of what you are looking for. If you’d like to step things up a notch and make a custom vignette, use the Radial Filter tool. The options are wide and you really can get very creative.

I hope you learned a little something with this post. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!