How to Edit Eyes in Photoshop

It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. In photography, the eyes are the key to great portraits. If the eyes are soft or out of focus the image is unusable. Glyn Dewis shares his simple technique to enhance the eyes in your portrait photography and ensure they’re tack sharp:

1. Making the Selection

Use the Elliptical Marquee tool to drag out a selection of both eyes. Notice how Dewis selects the area just inside of the black outline of the eye so he can feather the selection later on.

how to sharpen eyes in a portraiture

Make a selection of the area.

Go into Quick Mask mode (press Q on the keyboard) to highlight the areas that will be affected by the changes you’re going to make next.

Select a medium soft round brush, select white as the foreground color, and paint over to un-select any areas that you feel don’t need to be affected. Dewis un-selected the eyebrows and the eyelids, as well as the pupils.

Go to Filter > Blue > Gaussian Blur and then dial in the amount of blur that you need to feather the selection. The key is to not make it obvious that you’ve done something to the eyes.

2. Selective Color Adjustment Layer

Go to Selective Color Adjustment Layer from the panel on the right. Change the blend mode from Normal to Linear Dodge (Add). Changing the blend immediately makes the eyes pop. In fact, the effect might be a bit too much.

Linear Dodge in sharpening eyes

Before and after using Linear Dodge

Adjust the opacity on the Selective Color Adjustment layer to ensure that the eyes look realistic and not overdone.

tips on sharpening the eyes

Adjust the color properties to get the color and contrast right.

Next, move on to the properties of the Color Adjustment tool. The initial step was to brighten the color of the eyes. The next step is to affect the actual color of the eyes. Set the color to Neutral and then adjust the sliders.

To add a bit of contrast, go up to the dropdown, select Blacks, and work the sliders.

3. Sharpness

Now add a new blank layer and rename it to ‘Sharpness’. Select the Sharpness tool on the left panel. Ensure that you have ‘Sample All Layers’ ticked to make this change non-destructive.

Now, simply paint over the eyes with the sharpness tool. Look how the sharpness tool has had an effect on the eyes.

simple eye sharpening tools

Final Image

This is a really useful tip to sharpen eyes in your portraits. Do you have other tips for enhancing eyes?

For Further Training on Portrait Retouching:

Learn how to do everything from re-touching to color grading to advanced photo manipulation. Found here: 35 Professional Photoshop Tutorials

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