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  • Eyes Retouching – Photoshop Tutorial

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  • As announced on my newsletter I will start writing body retouching tutorials because I know many of you use Photoshop to enhance your personal photos. I will use both high resolution and low resolution examples because personal photos are usually low resolution and badly exposed and I want to show you how to fix that with Photoshop.

    These retouching tutorial will cover things like: face cleaning, light correction, eyes enhancement, digital makeup, exposure correction, color correction and body structure enhancement.

    I’m going to start with eyes retouching. I know that there are many tutorials out there covering this topic but I’ve seen so many “incorrect” ways of doing it… I will show you my non destructive technique of eyes enhancement and eyes coloring.

    I’m going to work on a closeup portrait because it’s the only kind of photos where I can clearly see all the details of the eyes.

    First I will show you how to change the color of the eyes yet keep the realism and then I will show you a trick with the dodge/burn tool to make them stand out.

    Eyes Coloring

    Step 1

    Open your portrait in Photoshop. For this tutorial used this picture from sxc.hu (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1192482 https://www.pexels.com/photo/attractive-beautiful-beauty-close-up-458718). I suggest you use the same image until you learn the technique.

    When you’re retouching eyes, you don’t need to backup the original image. All you have to to is to select and copy the eyes on a new layer and work on the copy, keeping the original image safe.

    I usually use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a path around the eye, turn that path into a selection and apply some feather to the selection.

    The amount of feather you put on the selection depends on the resolution of your image but a 3-4 pixels is enough in most cases if your stock image resolution is higher than 1000pixels. You can turn a path into a selection by right clicking while you have the Pen Tool selected and choosing Make Selection. That’s when you will be prompted to add the feather.

    Once the selection is made, select any selection tool, right click and from the pop-up menu choose Layer Via Copy. That will create a copy of the selection on a new layer. See image below.

    Eyes Retouching - Photoshop Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    Step 2

    Now you have to merge both layers (the layers that contain the eyes). Select both layers and use the shortcut Ctrl+E to merge the selected layers.

    So, why did I merge the eyes? Well, the reason why I did that is because I will add an adjustment layer and I want that adjustment to affect both eyes equally. If you make adjustments for each eye separately, you might make one brighter than the other for example and I want to avoid that.

    Once both layers are merged, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer as clipping mask. You can create a new adjustment layer from the menu Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. Check the option Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask.

    Eyes Retouching - Photoshop Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    Step 3

    Now you’re ready to change the color of the eyes or increase the saturation. Double click the Hue/Saturation adjustment level to open it.

    If you want to increase the saturation of the eyes (make the color stronger), just by increasing the Saturation value you will see than more often than not, you will not get the result you’re after.

    Instead of just increasing the Saturation, activate the Colorize option, increase the saturation to 85% and move the Color slider until you get the color you want. See image below.

    Eyes Retouching - Photoshop Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    Step 4

    You can use the adjustment layer at any time and change the color of the eyes whenever you want, that’s the beauty of non destructive methods. As you see on the image above, the color is way to strong but we are going to fix that right now.

    Go to the adjustment layer and change it’s Blend Mode to Color and reduce the Opacity down to 20-25%. Be careful with this because it’s easy to oversaturate the eyes and that looks unrealistic. Take a look at the result on the image below.

    Notice that the blue color of the eyes looks very natural.

    Eyes Retouching - Photoshop Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022


    A) If the catch light of the eyes is very bright and significant in size, using this technique you will also colorize the catch light which is unrealistic. In this case, you can use the layer mask on the adjustment layer and mask the color on the catch light and therefore leave it white as it should be.

    Take a look at the example below.

    Eyes Retouching - Photoshop Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    B) This coloring technique might not work on 100% of the pictures because it depends on the original color of the eyes. If the eyes are too dark, you might have to increase the Opacity of the adjustment layer to 100% and reduce the Saturation value on the adjustment.

    Eyes Enhancement

    Changing the color and saturation of the eyes already makes them look better but you can go further. Using the Dodge/Burn Tool (O) you can improve the look of the eyes even more with just a few strokes. We are not going to use this tool directly on the original image because we have to do this non destructively.

    Instead I will show you a technique that I used in many of my manipulation tutorials. Follow this steps.

    Step 1

    Create a new layer above the eyes and the adjustment layer created on step 2 of the first part of this turial and fill it with 50% Gray from Edit>Fill>50% Gray. After that change the Layer’s Blend mode to Overlay. You will see that nothing happens to the image but we will use the Dodge/Burn tools on this layer.

    Eyes Retouching - Photoshop Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    Step 2

    Select the Burn Tool (O) and choose a low radius (15px or so) soft brush. Set Range to Midtones and Exposure to 12-15%. Now start brushing along the outer edge of the iris and around the pupil. If you make a mistake, all you have to do is to switch to the brush tool and paint with 50% gray.

    After burning the edges of the iris, select the Dodge tool and with the same settings, paint on the center of the iris. See image below.

    Eyes Retouching - Photoshop Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    This is the before and after the dodge/burn. Hover the mouse over the image.

    Eyes Retouching - Photoshop Tutorial Photoshop Tutorials 2022

    I hope you liked this tutorial. As always, feel free to share it and comment if you have any question.

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    One Response

    1. Thank you so much for share this technique. This is really amazing. I am photo retouches. Some times my client eye retouching.
      Could you tell me please which tools is the best for eye retouching service?

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