Coloured vignettes in Paint.NET

I use this free app called Paint.NET for a frightening majority of whatever image processing tasks I may need to do. The real power of PdN lies in the amazing community, though: there are quite a few talented coders out there who keep on releasing mindblowing plugins.

There are hundreds of them, I believe, but this time I am just going to focus on a specific technique concerning vignettes.

I developed it before BoltBait’s Vignette Plus was released – a plugin that allows to create a coloured vignette with alpha; but I believe this method may still have value because, well, it offers a tad more options.

And, y’know, the whole educational effect.

What you need:

Ed Harvey Effects;
KrisVDM’s plugin pack.

// those pages will tell you how to install these plugins //

And an image – I will use one of my test renders, originally posted on the DAZ3D forums.

What I got:


If you want to learn how to do this, too, then please proceed under the cut for the how-to.

1. Install the software and all these plugins. You may need admin rights, yadda yadda.
2. Open your image in PdN.
3. Locate the “Layers” button in the top right corner and verify it is on: 1
4. Find the Layers palette on your screen and click the “New layer” button: 2
5. Locate the Tools palette (if you can’t seem to find it, look at the top right corner again and check if it’s on) and activate the flood fill: 3
6. Select your new transparent layer in the Layers palette (left-clicking) and right-click on it. It should get filled with your secondary colour, which is white by default. If it’s not white, go set it to white in the Colours palette (you’re getting the drift now, right?) and click again. Make sure you’re flooding your new layer. Undo is Ctrl+Z, as always.
7. Now, in the Layers palette, double-click your new white layer and, in the dialogue box that appears, set the blending mode to “Multiply”. You should see your image again.
8. With the new layer still selected, go to “Effects – Photo – Vignette EH” menu. This should load Ed Harvey’s vignette plugin, which is my favourite. Play with the controls and see what they do. PdN will preview all the changes live for you.
Tips: I like starting with full density and a high rolloff value, to establish the shape and radius options that I like. Then I slowly decrease rolloff and adjust radius until I like the outline, and only then do I dial down the density till I get the desired result. But YMMV, of course.
9. Press OK when you are OK with what you see. Now you have a black vignette on white, multiplied over your image.
10. Time to colour it. Go to “Adjustments – Monochrome Ink on Paper” menu; another cool plugin will pop up. Play with the colour until you get what you like; here are my settings for this particular image: mkink
11. Now you have a coloured vignette! But that’s not all there is to it… If you double-click the vignette layer in the Layers palette, you can adjust its opacity and blending mode – try Colour Burn, Darken, and even Overlay and Glow; these will all give you interesting results.
12. Okay, so you’ve got your perfect vignetted image. Now you can save it – by default, PdN will offer to save your layered work into its own layered file. Unless you’re pressed for hard drive space, there’s no reason not to – this way, you can always change your vignette later. Then, go to the “Save As” menu and select to save as PNG: I’m not a huge fan of PdN’s JPEG export. Saving as PNG and later converting to JPEG for Web use with a dedicated program like RIOT (it’s free, too!) offers much more control over the quality of your published result.

Tips: in RIOT (a version of which is also available as part of the standard IrfanView plugin pack…), I set chroma subsampling to “none”, turn on “progressive” and set the quality to 90%. This gives me fairly pristine quality and manageable image sizes.

Oh, yeah: my final result, posted above, used Colour Burn blend and 146 opacity for the vignette layer.


2 thoughts on “Coloured vignettes in Paint.NET

  1. I must admit that even though i have Photoshop i tend to jump into Paint.NET when doing anything not requiring masks. It is just… nice and easy. Thanks for this post. P.S. For some reason your recent posts have not turned up on my WordPress blogs i follow. I had to come looking for you. Strange.

    1. Thank you! I have never been a Photoshop person… something about the workflow never “clicked” with me.
      PS WordPress sends me email notifications about your posts. Have you checked if it does the same about mine?

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