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Fun with Elements Effects

January 29, 2009 by
How to create a sepia with a darkened edge vignette

Photoshop Elements is such a wonderfully friendly program to use, though with all the little flippy triangles, buttons, and so on, it can be a challenge to find some of the built-in effects. Today we'll do a little digging and take a peek at how you can easily turn a full-color photo into an aged sepia tint, complete with a burned-in (darkened) edge vignette. Read on!

Give it a color tint

Step 1: Launch Elements and open an image, like this painfully cute little dog from over at iStockphoto.com. Make sure you're in the Edit workspace (the orange tab at the top right) and then click the Full button circled below.

Step 2: Locate the Effects palette on the right side of your screen. If you don't see it at all, choose Window > Effects. If the Effects palette is collapsed (as it is in the screen shot above), you can click the little flippy triangle to its left to expand it (as shown below). Click the third button from the right to view the photo effects then choose Show All from the pop-up menu at the right (circled).

Step 3: If you want to make the little effects thumbnails bigger, click the double triangle to the right (circled below) and choose Large Thumbnail View from the resulting menu.

Step 4: This step is going to make Elements drain the color from your image and add a color tint back to it. You can choose between blue, green, purple, red, and brown. For this technique, go ahead and give the brown one (also known as "sepia") a quick double-click. NOTE: You must double-click these thumbnails; a single click won't do a darn thing.

Over in your Layers palette you'll notice that Elements duplicated the background layer and applied the sepia tint to that layer so as to protect the original. Sweet! Here's what you should have now:

TIP: To make your Layers palette float freely like the one picture above, just click and drag its title bar toward the left of your screen. To put it back in the palette dock, just click the tiny red circle at its top left to close it and it'll immediately reappear in the dock.

Add a darkened gray edge vignette

Step 6: To softly darken the edges of the photo, choose Filter > Correct Camera Distortion. This filter is new in Elements 6 and does a fantastic job of adding a nice edge vignette which draws the viewer's eye to the center of the image.

Step 7: Turn off the "Show Grid" option at the bottom of the honkin' big dialog box (circled below) so you can see what you're doing. Next, locate the Vignette section toward the left and drag the amount slider all the way to the left. To darken the edges even further, drag the Midpoint slider slightly to the left.

In the above filter preview window you can see what the final result will look like: a brown tinted image with a dark gray edge or vignette. Next, let's take a peek at how you can make the darkened edge appear dark brown which makes the photo look a bit older.

Add a sepia (brown) edge vignette

Step 1: In order to apply the sepia tint to the darkened edge, you need to do that step first, instead of last. For that reason, give the Background layer a double-click (if necessary) in order to make it editable. Otherwise Elements will fuss when you try to run a filter on it.

Step 2: Choose Filter > Correct Camera Distortion and drag the Vignette slider all the way left. Drag the Midpoint slider slightly left if your heart desires it.

Step 3: Locate the Effects palette, click the Photo Effects button (third from left), make sure Show All is chosen from the pop-up menu at the right, and scroll down until you see the Sepia thumbnail. Give it a quick double-click to apply the effect.

Over in the Layers palette you'll see that Elements once again duplicated the original layer and applied the effect to the duplicate.

And here's the before and after. Personally, I like the brown vignette better than the dark gray, but that's just me. Either way, this effect takes very little time to create and makes a huge difference in the photo.

Until next time, may the creative force be with you!