How to Change Eye Color in Photoshop

You don’t need to buy colored contact lenses to transform your subject’s eye color into a mutant fire-eyed monster… or simply a blue-eyed beauty. Aaron Nace shows us how to achieve this transformation in Photoshop and make realistic adjustments to an eye or even make a crazy fantasy eye. Watch to see how he uses a group of layer masks to keep all of his adjustments in one small selection:

Nace gives us the building blocks to make any type of eye but starts with a natural-looking adjustment from a dark brown eye to a blue eye.

Setting up Your Selection

  1. Start by making a Curves Adjustment Layer and brighten it up (brightening it is only necessary if you’re going from a dark colored eye to a lighter colored eye).
  2. Choose the Elliptical Marquee Tool and make a selection around the iris. Select the layer mask and hit Command I to invert your selection.
    Hit Command D to deselect, select the layer mask, and then hit Command I again. Now you can see your selection much easier.
  3. To make the edges softer, under the filter menu choose blur and then Gaussian blur to adjust the sharpness of your selection. This will make it look more natural.
  4. If you need to adjust the rotation of your selection do it now and hit Command T to move it around until it fits your selection perfectly.

Making a Layer Group

Nace utilizes a layer group so that any adjustments he makes will now stay confined to the selection he made around the iris.

layer group selection photoshop

As you can see here, any adjustments made in the layer group will only be seen inside the original layer.

  1. Hit Command G to create the group.
  2. While holding down alt or option, drag your layer mask into the group.
  3. Now you can hit Shift + Delete on your original layer mask and change the color to white.

Changing Eye Color

Now you can change the color of the iris by making a hue saturation adjustment layer and drag the hue slider around to find the color you want. Nace uses blue and pulls it all the way to the left.

hue adjustment photoshop

  • Next, adjust your saturation. Bring it down to make it look more realistic like an actual blue eye.
  • The pupil is also being affected by these changes, so use your brush tool to paint black into the very center of the eye so your changes don’t also change the pupil’s color making it look fake.
  • You can also use the brush tool to paint white around the furthest edges of the selection to slightly increase the selection size where it may not have included the very edges, which also makes it look more realistic.

Adding Effects and Extra Layers

Since blue eyes look a bit darker around the edges in reality, you can add a curves adjustment layer to recreate that.

  • Add a curves adjustment layer and drag your center point down to make it a bit darker.
  • Hit Command I to invert the layer and use a soft brush to paint white around the edges of the layer, making them a bit darker

soft brush layer painting in photoshop

A lot of real blue eyes have a bit of yellow in the center near the pupil.

  • Add another curves adjustment layer and, in your blue channel, drag the center point down to add a bit of yellow. Play around with each color channel until you’ve found a realistic-looking shade to go in the center of the eye.
  • Hit Command I to invert the layer and then use a soft brush to paint white near the center of the pupil revealing the new color.

photoshop multiple layers

You can also duplicate this group of layers to recreate this process using different colors and make new adjustments. Use this same technique to make green eyes with a brown center or fun fantasy eyes with bright yellow and red. Have fun experimenting with your new Photoshop skills!

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