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Apr 07, 2014

How To Color, Brighten and Sharpen Eyes in Photoshop

Make eyes look amazing in Photoshop

If you have ever seen amazing eyes in a photo there is a good chance that it has been edited in Photoshop. Enhancing a person’s eyes in Photoshop is a quick way to make an image really stand out.

In today’s episode we show you how to color, brighten and sharpen eyes in photoshop. You will also learn how to properly dodge and burn an eye to make it stand out.

Coloring the Eye

There are many ways to color a person’s eye in Photoshop. This method uses the natural color of the eye as a base for new color. Start out by creating a new layer and sampling the color from the inner part of the eye. Next open your color palette and increase both lightness and saturation. This will give you a more vibrant version of the same hue. Then paint over the inner part of the eye, covering where the original color was. Do this a couple of times, sampling colors from around the eye.

After all of the colors are painted, change your layer blending mode to “Soft Light” or “Overlay” to allow the color to blend into the eyes. Then make sure to use “Gaussian Blur” to soften the edges of where you painted.

The eyes should be quite a bit more vibrant but still look natural.

Dodge and Burning the Eye

In this episode we use curves adjustment layers to brighten the center part of the pupil and darken the outer edges of the pupil. This change will give the eyes more depth and light.


The final step is to sharpen the eyes. You may already be sharpening your whole image, but just sharpening key areas (like the eyes) is a great way to draw more attention to those areas.

Roll over to see original image.


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  • user image
    Ron Miller

    I love this! I tried with this. Thank you a lot for showing this. (:
    Edit: The color is all washed out when I posted it. ):

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    Simon Abrams

    Another great tutorial. Speaking of which, I have a tutorial suggestion: how to fix dry or chapped lips. Sometimes your subject looks great, but maybe they need a little help in the Chapstick department… I think that would be very useful. Anyway, thanks for everything you guys do!

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    Greg Coltman

    what about if you convert the layer with the high pass filter to a smart object, you can then see the effect of the radius real time and go back and change it with real time effect.

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    Carlos Chinesta Sevilla

    Very cool tutorial and very easy. Specially the small detail when you desaturate the stamp and then high pass for the sharpening, i have never desaturate beforre applying the filrter.

    Here is my last picture that i took of my cat in home. Really looks cute and the sharpening works perfectly fine.

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    Would love to see a video on some tips for photography used in package design. How do they get such perfect looking fruit – the perfect highlights, super saturated, glossy-looking fruit? Like on this orange juice package. The fruit almost looks like a cross between a rendering and photo.

    Thanks. Love what you guys do.

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    Jennifer Minor

    You spoke of making a stamp visible layer and I understood shift+ option+ but not the next word. could you please clarify

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    Michael Kampmann

    Cool tutorial …
    Could you show us how to cut out glass from a background … like an empty wineglass ? Thank you :)

    • user image

      Wouldn’t you just use the blend if sliders? Look up Andrei Oprinca channel on YouTube he shows something similiar to what you want

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    Juan Lamus

    Hey Aaron any advice on how to light a dark skin complex subject? Ill be shooting outdoor evening ambient. Thank you

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    Stephanie Greer

    Hey Aaron, would you do a tutorial showing how to get that bronzy look to skin tones you often see in fashion magazines and in the movie “300″? I’ve been practicing but can’t seem to get it quite right. Thanks :)

  • user image

    Nice tutorial Aaron. Would of been a chance to sell more of your Amazing Eyes action if you used it but I know why you didn’t, cause it would be easy to copy it. But it’s the best eye action I have ever used.

    • user image

      @bettelyoun:disqus Thank you! We will try to make more actions in the future!