More on Vignettes

A simple, often-overlooked technique to add sophistication to your graphics.

masking to create a vignette

Earlier this week, we posted a video on using 3D lights in After Effects to enhance a scene. One of the main reasons for doing so was to add a vignette, where the edges of the frame were darkened, and the center of the frame – where the main action occurred and the main title appeared – was brightened. It’s not as sexy as blowing something up, but it is an effective, more subtle way to help focus the viewer’s attention on the area we wanted, and not have them unduly distracted by non-essential action happening in the background.

A few years ago, we created an entire video course dedicated to different ways of creating vignettes. Among the techniques demonstrated were:

  • masking
  • gradients
  • painting
  • effects
  • 3D lighting

We also demonstrated a few alternative approaches, including using blending modes and combining multiple images.

The first movie below is an overview explanation of the course, while the second movie demonstrates the masking technique inside After Effects:

If you’re not already a subscriber, you can click here to start a free 10-day all-access trial; note that they will ask for your credit card up front in the event you like what you see and decide to continue with a regular subscription.


blending effected version of a shotIf you’re the type who prefers to read rather than watch videos, we created a pair of written tutorials for on the subject:

Both articles focus on using Adobe After Effects, but also touch on using Apple Motion.

Going even further, fellow PVC writer Rich Young created a nice round up of vignette techniques in Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro.


Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including “Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects” and “After Effects Apprentice” both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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