How To Edit Eyes in Photoshop

The eyes of a portrait are extremely important. They have often been described as the window to a persons soul. The following tutorial will teach you how to edit the eyes within a photograph so that they are less dark and become more of a focal point.

It is not uncommon for eyes, especially the iris, to be a little dark or in shadow. Even with the best lighting setups, you will probably still want to breath a little life into your subject’s eyes.

Adjusting they eyes is the first thing you want to do when editing a photograph.

1 – Open up your document in Photoshop by going to File->Open

2 – We are going to create a duplicate of our background layer. With the background layer selected, go to Layer->Duplicate Layer… . Name the layer as you see fit, and click “Ok“.

3 – Select the Laso Tool (L). Change the Feather Value to give your selection some softness. We will choose a Feather value of 25.

4 – With the Top Layer selected, draw a circle around the first eye, leaving a fair amount of space. You don’t need to be accurate for this step. Now, while holding the SHIFT key, draw a circle around the second eye, again, leaving some room. You selections should look similar to the image below.

5 – Now go to Image->Adjustments->Shadows/Highlights. Make sure Preview is selected. Now, check off the box that says Show More Options.

6 – While there are many settings in this window, there are 2 that I would consider essential. First, under Shadows, adjust the Amount slider back and forth to decide how much detail you want to bring out. I prefer to be relatively conservative with this setting, otherwise the eyes start looking very fake. But of course feel free to choose a settingĀ  based on your own taste. For this example, I have chosen a value of 20%. I wouldn’t recommend going over 50%.

7 – Next, under Adjustments, slightly increase the Midtone Contrast to prevent the area from looking too blown out. Again, I tend to be conservative. I have chosen a value of +5.

8 – I don’t always adjust the Highlights Amount, but if the edited area looks too bright overall, slightly increase this value. Again, I have chosen a value of 5%. When you are happy with the details in the eyes, click OK.

9 – Deselect your selection by going to Select->Deselect (Ctrl + D). You will probably now have a model with raccoon eyes.


10 – To remove the raccoon eyes, we are going to create a mask. With the Top Layer selected, go to Layer->Layer Mask->Reveal All. With the Mask selected, choose the Brush Tool (b). Make sure the foreground colour is black, otherwise your mask won’t work. Set the Brush Opacity to around 60% and start masking out the areas that areas that are too bright.

11 – If you find the eyes look too bright overall, reduce the opacity of the top layer slightly. Once you are happy with the eyes, Flatten your image by going to Layer->Flatten Image.

12 – If you would like to bring out a little more of the colours in the eye, use the Sponge Tool (O). Make sure the Mode is set to Saturate. I would suggest a Flow setting of about 15%. Use the Sponge Tool as you would a brush, and paint in the areas you would like more saturation.

That’s it! Now continue with all your other editing. Below you will see the before and after shots.

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful.

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One Response to “How To Edit Eyes in Photoshop”

  1. Brad says:

    I might have to start adding all your tutorials to my bookmarks/favourites :)

    Thanks for this.