Adding a subtle vignette to your images is a beautiful way to bring the focus to your subject.
Technically speaking, vignettes are caused by distortion or light "fall off" from your lens, which looks like shadows at the corners of your images. In some cases, you may not want to have a vignette in your images: for example, if you are using a solid white background, you'll generally want the white to remain consistent throughout the image, with no shadows/grays in the corners of the image
If, however, your image will benefit from a slight vignette, you can recreate this lens effect in Photoshop. Below are two different ways to achieve a vignette effect.
First, be sure that your foreground color is set to black, because we will be using black as the color for our vignette:
To apply a vignette using the Gradient Fill, select Layer>New Fill Layer>Gradient:
Press okay here:
Check the box next to Reverse to place the vignette on the outside of the image.
Next, make sure that beside the word Gradient, the color goes from transparent to solid black. Then, set the Style to Radial. You can change the Angle settings, but generally 90 degrees works perfectly. You can also set the Scale to change the intensity of the gradient. Subtle is usually best when it comes to vignettes, so I increased the Scale to 347%.
Once you apply your vignette, your image will be slightly darker on the edges, and more than likely, the effect will be to heavy. In order to blend the vignette and for it to appear more natural, change the Blending Mode of your layer to either Soft Light or Overlay, and reduce the opacity:
Here is the before/after using the Gradient Fill tool. As you can see, the effect is minimal, which is generally what you want to strive for with a vignette. You do not want the vignette to stand out at all, you simply want it to make your subject pop:
Lens Correction Filter
You can use Photoshop's Lens Correction Filter in order to add vignettes. Once you have opened your image in PS, duplicate the Background layer, then select Filter>Lens Correction:
Make sure that all of the Auto Correction boxes are UN-checked. We only want to add a custom vignette, and are not correcting other lens issues here:
Now, click on the Custom tab next to the Auto Correction tab.
Take a look at the Vignette module under Custom:
For this image, I changed the Vignette settings by pulling the slider to the left, but I also brightened the center by pulling the Midpoint slider to the right. You will need to play around with the two, as the settings will vary from image to image. In some cases, you will need to brighten your midpoint to compensate for the edges of your image, but it does vary from image to image.
If you feel as though the vignette is too heavy, you can either reduce the opacity of your duplicated layer, or you can select Fade Lens Correction:
Here is a before and after of the image using the Len Correction Filter:
As you can see, the vignette is super-subtle, which is generally what you want. If you compare the top-right corners of each image, you can really see the vignette in the after example.
If you are interested in actions that will help you create vignettes in Photoshop, be sure to check out our PURE Color Workflow.