In this Affinity Photo basics article, I’ll show you how to quickly and easily add a vignette to your photos. Vignettes are a great way to make your photos look more professional by drawing the viewer’s attention towards your subject. You can watch the video version of this tutorial below, or scroll past to read the full article. Let’s get started!
Step 1. Open Your Image
You’ll of course want to open the image you’d like to add your vignette to inside of Affinity. To do this, open Affinity and go to File>Open.
Select the image you’d like to use from the folder where it’s located on your computer and click “Open” (red arrow in the image above). This will open your image as a new document.
Step 2. Add the Vignette Filter to Your Photo
Once your image is open, add the vignette to it by going to Layer>New Live Filter>Colors>Vignette in the Menu Bar (red arrow in the image above). This will bring up the “Live Vignette” panel (outlined in green in the image below).
The Vignette filter is what’s known as a “Live Filter” in Affinity Photo. This means the filter itself will be added to its own adjustment layer, which you can then double-click at a later time to edit the filter or make adjustments. This is a non-destructive way to add filters to your images.
Step 3. Adjust the Vignette Settings
There are four sliders you can adjust inside the Live Vignette panel.
The first is called “Exposure.” This slider allows you to make the vignette either black or white, and controls the “value” – which basically means the amount of darkness (black) or brightness (white) – of the black or white vignette.
So, if I drag the slider to the left, this will add a black vignette to my image. The exposure value when you do this will be negative (red arrow in the image above).
If I drag the slider to the right, it will add a white vignette to my image. The exposure value when you do this will be positive (red arrow in the above image).
The further I drag the slider in either direction, the more intense the vignette will be (it’ll either be a darker black or a brighter white). For a more subtle vignette, use a lower number.
To reset this slider, double click on the little circular knob (red arrow in the image above) or manually type “0” in the numerical field (outlined in green).
I’ll go with a setting of around -2.5 for the exposure for now to give my photo a black vignette (note: I am purposely making this vignette more intense so that it’s easier to see for the proceeding steps. I don’t usually make my vignettes this noticeable).
The next setting in the Live Vignette panel is the “Hardness” slider (outlined in green in the above image). This allows you to control how hard or soft the transition of the vignette is going from the outer portion of your image towards the center of your image.
By dragging this slider to the left, it’ll make the transition softer and will create a lower percentage value (denoted by the red arrow in the image above). This can help your vignette blend with the image better as it fades out. However, if you make the vignette too soft, it’ll start to overlap with more and more of your image. A vignette that’s too soft can also start to make main parts of your image – like your subject – become obstructed, darkened (when using black), or lightened (when using white) by the vignette.
If you move this slider to the right, it’ll make the vignette “harder.” In other words, the transition of the vignette won’t be smooth. If I increase this value all the way to 100% (red arrow in the image above), you’ll clearly see a circle going around your image where the vignette is supposed to be transitioning (blue arrow). The blur has been entirely removed.
I’ll double-click on the circular knob (red arrow) to reset the slider back to its default value of 75% and keep it there for now.
The next slider is the “Scale” slider. This slider allows you to increase or decrease the size of the circle that’s creating your vignette. If you drag this slider to the left, creating a smaller percentage value (red arrow in the above image), the circle will get smaller and your vignette will take up more space on your image (blue arrow).
If you drag the slider to the right, the inner circle will get larger and the vignette will get pushed out more towards the corners. If you drag the slider all the way right (up to 400% – as denoted by the red arrow in the above photo), the circle will get so large that the vignette will disappear outside the boundaries of your image.
I’ll drag the slider back and forth until I find a size I like for the vignette (I went with 108% in this case).
The final slider is the “Shape” slider. This determines whether your vignette will be a perfect circle or more of an ellipse shape. When the slider is set to 100% (as it is by default), the vignette will be a perfect circle.
The more I drag this slider to the left, the more elliptical the vignette will get. Anything below 100% will create a more elliptical shape. In this example, I set it to 19% (red arrow), creating a very “squished” elliptical shape (blue arrow).
I’ll set this value to around 77% so that the vignette matches more closely to the aspect ratio (ratio of the width to the height) of my image. This ensures the vignette appears at the top and bottom portions of the image and not just the corners of the image.
Step 4. Make Your Final Vignette Adjustments and Apply
Ultimately, you’ll want your vignette to be visible enough to have its desired effect, but not so visible that it becomes distracting. In other words, your vignette should generally be subtle. I have my exposure set to -2.5 for this tutorial to make it easier to see, but would probably go with something around -1.4 in a normal scenario (for this particular photo).
There are a few additional features to note about Affinity Photo’s Live Vignette filter before we finish this tutorial. First, if I wanted to merge this vignette with my original layer, I would click the “merge” button at the top of the Live Vignette panel (red arrow in the image above).
If I decided I didn’t want the vignette, I can click the “delete” button to totally get rid of it (blue arrow). This will also close out the Live Vignette panel.
Finally, if I wanted to reset the vignette back to the default values, I would click the “reset” button (green arrow). My Live Vignette panel would stay open and I can start from scratch.
At the bottom of the Live Vignette panel is a dropdown labeled “Opacity.” When I click this dropdown, it reveals a slider that allows me to decrease or increase the opacity. Decreasing the opacity will make the vignette more “transparent,” which can help make the vignette less intense and more subtle.
Finally, on the bottom right of the Live Vignette panel is “Blend Mode” option (red arrow in the image above). Here, you can change the blend more of your vignette to change how the vignette interacts with the layer(s) below. Hovering your mouse over any of the Blend Mode names will give you a live preview of that blend mode. In the above example, I hovered over the “Soft Light” blend mode, which was then previewed on the image. I’ll keep my blend mode set to “normal.”
If I want to keep the vignette as a separate adjustment layer/live filter, I can simply click the “x” icon in the top right corner of the window (red arrow).
Over in the Layers panel, you’ll now see my main image layer has a live filter attached to it as denoted by the thumbnail (red arrow). If I wanted to make further adjustments to the vignette at any time during my session, I can simply double click this thumbnail to bring my Live Vignette settings back up.
That’s it for this Affinity Photo tutorial! If you liked it, you can check out more Affinity Photo or premium software tutorials on my website!