How to Make a Vignette in Photoshop or PSE

I remember when I was first trying to learn Photoshop Elements and I wanted to make a vignette. I hunted high and low in Scott Kelby’s book, looked online, tried to follow various tutorials and was left just wanting to cry. I finally found a tutorial in Kelby’s book that was what I wanted (but he didn’t have it listed in the Index as vignette).

A vignette is typically a darkening of the edges of a photo, to bring emphasis to the subject. There are different ways to create vignettes, but with this tutorial I only show three:

  • Multiply layer, inverted and vignette brushed on edges of photo
  • Dodge/Burn layer, using a black brush to darken edges of photo
  • Radial Gradient, B&W, set to soft light

With each technique, I lowered the layer opacity way down. This is important…you do not want a heavy vignette on all your images. Yes, sometimes a heavy, obvious vignette makes a photo, but usually that is for artistic reasons and it is definitely not the norm.

Below is a video tutorial showing the three ways (really I show a fourth, kind of), and I used my Photoshop CS5 for the video. Elements users, do not turn away thinking this is not for you, IT IS. 100% of this tutorial can be done in PSE. I purposely used my CS5 to show you that many tutorials out there can be followed in PSE.


About Amanda

I am passionate about helping others learn how to use their DSLR cameras and editing programs. More information about me can be found at my About page, or by visiting my personal blog.


  1. Your point about how PS and PSE tutorials go hand in hand is sooooo true. I don’t think people realize how similar they are! Great stuff.

  2. Amanda, LOVED this tutorial! I have to admit, CS anything intimidates the heck out of me. I just installed Lightroom last night and I just kind of stared at it. I was able to open up a photo and change the white balance and that was pretty much it. Not only looking forward to your LR class in August but I am so happy that I can do most things in Elements! I LOVE Elements! (Hoping that having those two in my arsenal will be all I’ll need for a long time, too.)

  3. Patti A says:

    Thanks Amanda-
    I always forget how those two programs go hand in hand. The Vignette how to’s are great can’t wait to try them.
    Thank you!

  4. Hello I was wondering if you knew where or how to make a vignetter that uses the colors in the four corners to make a four color vignette. I’ve seen some pictures and I would really like to apply this effect to some of the photographs I have. Thank you!

  5. i think i’ve read pass your same blog few years ago. that time i was happy persona like u exist. this time i’m happier because at least u keep blogging. wanna see u in few years more.xoxo!

  6. This is awesome! Thank you so much!

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