Vignette secrets



Today I ask about a little but subtle difference of vignetting in different software. Whenever I use the vignetting tool in darktable, it feels unnatural. When I check other software, e.g. the commercial product with the similar name, I think I observe a difference (disclaimer: only an observation from tutorial videos). Is this just imagination or is it real and there is a difference. Can I use a combination of blending modes and parametric masks to come to similar results? Or is it similar and my observation wrong? Check e.g. the Video here

at 11:00 and compare to my results:

(Mica) #2

My vingettes always use the blendmode softlight or similar, and some opacity, depending on what the subject matter is.

(Pat David) #3

I’ll usually adjust a vignette to match better the colors/effect for the image type I may be considering (complementary color cast to the vignette for instance). It’s mostly a manual process that changes from image to image (if I use one at all).

In the video you linked, you can see from a diff of the before/after that he clicks through that it looks like a standard-ish type of darkening vignette around the edges of the image. Notice, though, that the image has a strong center focus point that your eye immediately wants to go to, which is enhanced through the use of a vignette to sort of “guide” you to that point.

Your image lacks a central focal point as strong, so my eyes want to wander the frame a little more (not that anything wrong with the image, it’s quite lovely). Perhaps this has something to do with your perception of it? I think the one you’ve done is subtle and not distracting.


Hm, it was a rejected image, just the first one that came into my hands that shows the effect. It’s just meant as example of a grey, flat vignette. Besides this it’s unprocessed. :grin:

Besides, thanks for the considerations :grinning:.


It’s hard to tell from your samples, but is your raw file overexposed? The dramatic contrast enhancing effect from the video can only happen when there is structure like that in the original file.

Caveat: I didn’t watch the video, just looked at the preview image.


I guess so – wait – we have a functionality for that question now … Yes, it is. Maybe it was not the optimal sample file. But I still wonder if the other software does something different. @paperdigits softlight is a bit closer, but quite not there, since it affects the whole image, but it e.g. affects the highlights less.

(Mica) #7

I always wondered why that was… Perhaps @houz can answer: when I use the vignette module and set the blendmode to soft light, why does it seem to apply a softlight layer over the whole image, rather than just to the black of the vignette?

(Carmelo Dr Raw) #8

I guess that when the blend mode of the vignette module is set to softlight, the whole vignette output gets blended with the original image… you actually get a difference even when the brightness and saturation are both set to zero (i.e. no vignetting applied).

This is not the same as taking a layer which is 50% grey in the center and darker at the edges, and blending it in softlight mode onto the original image…


Exactly that. Blendmodes work on the result from the module. They are not aware of what the module actually does and thus can’t treat the darkening from the vignette differently than other pixels.

(Carmelo Dr Raw) #10

@paperdigits I think that what you have in mind can only be achieved with layer-based editors (like GIMP, Krita or Photoflow), but not with module-based ones…

(Rafa García) #11

You can try to vignetting with levels and masks.

You draw a path around the point of interest with a big degradated and invert the polarity. Then you move blacks and mid tones to your taste.

Based on this:


(Christian Kanzian) #12

Yes, sometimes it looks unnatural. But I guess that is more a matter of tweaking it right. In the link tutorial much more local edits are done. BTW have you played with the shape form in the vignetting module?

I think in case of clipped highlights you never can make it look natural like in this example: