Draw the viewer’s attention to the subject of your photo with a vignette in Adobe Photoshop.
College-aged man is featured on a poster with the text “Design a better future. Enroll today.”

Open a photo in Photoshop. Feel free to use our photo for practice, or use your own. Choose the Shape tool and draw over the area of the photo you want to emphasize. Photoshop adds the shape on a new layer. We like the rectangle for this photo, but you can choose the shape you prefer. Choose Subtract Front Shape from the Properties panel (Window > Properties).

Selection is drawn around man’s head and shoulders using Shape tool. Subtract Front Shape is highlighted in Properties panel

To finesse the vignette, keep the shape layer selected. Then, click the Masks icon in the Properties panel and increase the Feather setting. In the Layers panel, you can adjust the Opacity on the shape layer to refine the vignette. Here are the settings we liked for this photo.

Man is moved to new layer. Mask is added to background layer, feathering increased, and opacity adjusted to create vignette

Fine-tune the overall composition by adjusting the color and placement of the vignette. With the shape layer still selected, choose the Shape tool and pick a color that blends well with the scene. Use the Move tool to reposition the vignette to focus on the subject.

Background color is changed and repositioned to fine-tune the vignette around the man

See our final result below. With a few quick adjustments, we were able to make our subject the focus of the scene.

Before: College-aged man standing by the street with trees in the background After: Soft vignette appears around man

Now you can create customizable vignettes for a variety of photos.


Contributor: Adrien Radford

Adobe Stock contributor: georgejmclittle

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