Focusing Attention With Layer Masks

One of the simplest ways to focus attention in an image is by deliberately adding a vignette – defined as a reduction of an image’s brightness or saturation at the periphery compared to the image center.

A lot of the time, this will be done at the very edges of an image but it can be very effective by being more selective.

Below is a demonstraction of how a views eye can be focused to off-centre parts of your images in a very simple way using Gimp, Layer Masks and the Blend tool.

The original

The file I’m going to start with is here:

Original Image

Original Image

My aim is to draw attention to the flow that is slightly off centre.

Next… Add a Layer

In order to create the vignette, we need to add a dark layer and reduce the opacity level so that we’re able to see the original image behind the new layer.

Simple Layer

Simple Layer

N.B. Another simple and affective way to expose the image behind the layer is to set mode of the new layer to “Soft Light”. Justing this mode makes the vignette more subtle.

Selecting the Focus Area

Now we need to set the focus area. In order to do this, you must:

  • Add a layer mask to the new layer.
  • With the layer mask highlighted, select the Blend tool and drag from the centre point of the focus area to the edge of the focus point


Finally, Get Creative

We’ve now got the area we wanted highlighted and the view should be drawn to look where you want them. Now, we can start to get creative and adjust the darkened part of the image. The easiest way of doing this is to adjust the opacity or change the layer mode of the layer initially added.

Mode - Gain Merge

Mode - Gain Merge

Mode - Gain Extract

Mode - Gain Extract


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