How to Make an After Effects Vignette

By November 9, 2017Tutorials

Skill level: 3/10


Add that “polished pro feel” to your video footage and animations with an Adobe After Effects vignette.

Vignettes stem from quality issues in early camera lenses where the light would fall-off (darken) towards the corners of a video or image due to the way the lens captures light.  The result is a dreamy kind of look that helps to drive the focus towards the middle of the frame, as our eyes are naturally drawn to the brightest parts of an image.

Vignettes can tie multiple scenes together that may differ dramatically.  By having the vignette uniformly overlaid on every clip, the footage gains a more cohesive look. These work just as well with animated content as they do with video footage and photo slideshows.

Scroll down to read our step by step directions.

Create your first Adobe After Effects Vignette

1. Create New Project

Just in case you aren’t already working on one, this is where you start.

2. Import Video or Photo Footage

Import all clips to which you’d like to have your After Effects vignette applied.

3. Create New After Effects Composition

Drag the video clip to the “create new composition” icon and release.  You can add multiple clips or photos here. When you add the vignette layer up top, it will apply to every clip, creating a cohesive look for the entire edit.

4. Create New Solid Layer

Click Layer – New – Solid and set the new layer to black.

5. Create Mask

Use the ellipse tool to create a centered black solid ellipse fitted fairly close to each edge.

6. Invert Mask

Under the mask settings in your layers panel, check the invert mask box so the center becomes transparent and the edges of the ellipse turn black.

7. Feather Mask

Using the mask settings box, click within the mask feather section and drag your mouse to the right.  This will soften the edges and let you fine tune it as you slide.  Move back to the left to scale the effect down.  A nice feathered mask will create a softer and cleaner looking vignette.

8. Adjust Mask Expansion

This setting adjusts the sizing of the mask and will help keep the feathering from going too far into the frame and darkening up the center.

9. Render

From the menu, click Composition – Add to Render Queue to render your final footage.

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