How to Brighten Eyes in Adobe Photoshop

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May 7, 2021
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  • #1

In today’s post, I’ll be continuing on with the project I began a while back. The goal here is to take a regular portrait photo of a young girl and funnel the natural surrounding light towards her eyes. I’d like to brighten them to give her face an overall sense of excitement and happiness. If you’d like to read the first part of this multi-post series, please visit this page:

How to Create a Freehand Vignette in Adobe Photoshop

In this earlier post, I basically reduced some of the noise of the environment in an effort to bring focus to the model’s face. With that accomplished, I now need to reduce some of the brightness on her face and funnel the viewer’s vision to the actual eyes themselves. While today’s tutorial will be short and sweet, rest assured that there are still a few more parts to come.

The Natural Darkness of the Eyes​

If you think about it, pretty much everyone on the planet has shadows around their eyes. This is because they rest deeper in the skull than other features do. Due to their position, they oftentimes appear darker than other facial attributes, which can make for some unexpected lighting situations when it comes to photography. If someone isn’t staring directly into their light source, strange shadows can appear. Remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s girlfriend was a two-face?

Seinfeld “Two Face” Girlfriend

Luckily, there are some tricks to brighten shadows on people’s faces.

Removing Glare​

When you look at the photo of the model I’m using in this post, you can surely see that she’s no two-face. And honestly, there isn’t a whole lot that needs to be done to improve the photo. It is, however, a good one to use for a post like this because of the visibility of the face itself.

Oftentimes, photographers need to increase the exposure of their photographs. When they do this, any glare that is currently on their subject will get brighter and more washed out looking. The brighter areas with the glare need to be slightly darkened. This will, in turn, bring the focus to the eyes more.

I can see some highlights that I would like to reduce on the model’s nose and chin. To accomplish this, I’m going to create a new layer, just as I did in the previous part of this project.

I’ll press the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key on my keyboard and click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. This will, again, introduce the New Layer dialog box. Inside the box, I’ll name the new layer Darken Face Highlights, change the mode to Soft Light and check off the box that says Fill With Soft Light Neutral Color (50% Gray). Doing this will give me a new layer that has a name and that’s 50% gray. Fairly simple. By the way, if you’d like a step-by-step view of this process, check out the previous post.

Next, I’ll make sure that black is set in the Color Picker and that I have a nice soft brush set for the Brush Tool. I’ll change the Opacity for the Brush Tool to 20% to keep any changes I make fairly mild and I’ll also resize the brush so it’s appropriate for this project. In this case, it’s set to 600 pixels.

Now, I’ll simply brush over the whitish parts of the nose and chin.


I know, you really can’t see any difference. I did make some though, as evidenced by the layer. If I show that, you can see where I brushed.


And if I change the blend mode back to normal, you can get an even better view.


Brightening the Eyes​

The key idea here is that I want control. As you may already know, you can use the Dodge Tool to increase the exposure of pretty much any part of a photo. And realistically, with that tool accompanied by the use of a mask, it might be the most efficient workflow you can take advantage of. Today though, I’m going to use an adjustment layer to achieve the result I’m after. That result is to simply brighten some of the shadows around the model’s eyes.

I’ll click on the Lasso Tool to activate it. Next, I’ll draw around the shadow areas on the model’s face, being sure to avoid her hair and her hat as best as possible.

NOTE: After making one outline, I’ll hold the Shift key on my keyboard to continue on and draw the other outline. The Shift key lets me pick up where I left off, as opposed to deleting the other selection first.


Now, I’d like to soften the edges of the selected areas. I don’t need any sharp definition when it comes to adjusting the lighting on someone’s face. To soften the edges, I’ll head up to the Select > Refine Edge menu item and click.


Once I do that, the Refine Edge dialog box will open. I’ll make sure the white background is set in the View Mode section.


And then I’ll push the Feather slider to the right until the edges are nice and soft (currently 115 pixels). That should soften the edges enough for the blend to be unnoticeable.


When finished, I’ll click the OK button, which will close the dialog box and return me to the image. The first thing I’ll notice is the the edges of the selections look more rounded. This is normal and a result of the feathering.

The next thing I’m going to do is to click on the New Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. This will pop up a menu that gives me all the available choices for adjustment types. I’ll select Levels.


After I do that, a new adjustment layer will appear and the Levels Properties panel will open.


From here, all I need to do is push the right tick mark under the levels graph to the left until the eyes brighten up to my liking. In my case, I pushed it about a quarter inch. Every photo will be different here.

Take a look at the change. I’d sure say the eyes are bright now and that this photo is moving along smoothly.


Again, in the photo I’m using, there isn’t a marked difference. I can see it if I turn the visibility of the layers on and off. If I were working on a photo of someone who had really dark eyes, there would be a much more noticeable change.

I’m going to stop here. I’ll pick up on this project in a later post, so stay tuned. Also, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please leave them in the comments section below. Thanks!


May 7, 2021
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2 Quick Ways to Remove Shadows Under Eyes in Adobe Photoshop​

When working in Adobe Photoshop, you’ll quickly learn that there are dozens of methods for accomplishing the same thing. It doesn’t take much to set a goal and to work with the most obvious tool for accomplishing that goal. As you become more advanced with the application though, you’ll find that you’re able to use additional or alternative tools to give you the same result, but that will offer different flexibilities later on. Examples of such tool may be the Clone Stamp Tool, Spot Healing Brush Tool, Healing Brush Tool and the Patch Tool. Let’s just say that there’s more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to working with these tools.

In today’s post, I’m going to walk through the process of using two different tools to accomplish the same goal in Photoshop. I’ll use a sample photograph of a woman who has fairly dark shadows under her eyes. To lighten the shadows, I’ll first use the Clone Stamp Tool, along with some specific settings and after that, I’ll use the Healing Brush Tool to do the same thing. I’ll set that tool as well but then after I’m finished, I’ll make one final adjustment that will bring everything together.

The Sample Photo​

Okay, as you can see in the photo below, there certainly are shadows under the woman’s eyes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because we all experience shadows, but when it comes to photo retouching, this area is generally corrected. Take a look.


Using the Clone Stamp Tool​

Both methods for dealing with this issue are relatively simple. Neither takes much time, but both require explanation. I’ll begin with the Clone Stamp Tool.

To activate this tool, I’ll head over to the left vertical toolbar and click the tool.


Next, I’ll resize the tool by pressing the [ and ] (bracket) keys on my keyboard. I want the size of the brush to be about the height of the shadows. In this case, I’d say that’s around a half inch. I’ll also keep a soft edge.

After that, I’ll move up to the options bar and set the Opacity to 10% and keep the Aligned box checked. Finally, I’ll make sure All Layers is selected in the Sample drop-down box. Sampling all layers means that even if I place a blank layer above the background photo layer (which I’ll do), Photoshop will still recognize that background layer, even if the blank layer is the active one.


Finally, I’ll head over to the Layers panel and I’ll create a new blank layer that sits above the background layer.


Copying Objects & Areas with the Clone Stamp Tool in Adobe Photoshop

Making sure the blank layer is active by clicking on it, I’ll then take a sample of the woman’s cheek by holding down the Alt key on my keyboard and clicking once with my mouse. Basically, when doing this, I’ll be looking for a sample area that I would like to see under the eyes. I’ll sample the clearest and brightest area of her cheek that isn’t too close to any edge.

Next, I’ll paint the shadows with the brush. As I do this, I’ll find that I’m really not making much of a difference. It will take many clicks and drags with the mouse to accumulate any amount of overlay. This is intended because the low Opacity value in the options bar offers a chance for any change to accumulate slowly. I’ll follow these instructions for both sides. After a few seconds of painting, here’s my result.


Notice how I didn’t completely remove any shadow or wrinkle? The goal is to keep things looking as natural as possible. If I had continued on and removed everything, the result would have looked very odd.

Using the Healing Brush Tool​

This method is slightly different than the last. To start off, I’ll delete the blank layer I just created and worked with and will replace it with another blank layer. Then, I’ll head over to the left vertical toolbar and I’ll select the Healing Brush Tool.


Working With the Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop

Next, I’ll revisit the options bar up top and make sure some values are set correctly. In this options bar, I want Mode to be set to Normal, Source set to Sampled, the Aligned box checked and the Sample drop-down set to All Layers. After this, I’m going to follow the same exact steps I laid out above. The only difference will be that instead of applying 10% of the brush strength, I’ll be applying 100%. Things will look very strange in the beginning.

I’ll go ahead and do this now. Here’s the result.


If we look at the above result, I think we can all agree that the shadows have been completely removed, but that the outcome looks a little strange. With the previous method, I applied the correction slowly and over many brush strokes in an effort to build it up. Here, I applied it all at once, which gave me quite the unnatural looking result. In order to fix this and make the shadows look much more natural, I’ll go back into the Layers panel and I’ll reduce the Opacity value to something around 75%.


By doing that, I’ll, in essence, be blending the unnatural looking result with the original shot. I’ll get this result.


This is arguably a much better outcome. Let’s take a look at the entire image.


Wow, that is so much better looking. I hope you agree.

I hope I clearly explained how to go about correcting under-eye shadows by using the Clone Stamp Tool and the Healing Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any concerns or questions regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!


May 7, 2021
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Brightening & Changing Eye Color in Adobe Photoshop​

One of the most basic things you can do to a photo with a person in it to make it look better is to brighten the eyes of that person. The closer and more visible the eyes are, the more important this task becomes. Bright eyes translate to health and vibrancy. This brightness can make the photo really come alive.

Another aspect of photo touching, though not nearly as important, is the alteration of the eye color of a subject. If the person in the photo has one eye color and, for some reason, you would like another, rest assured that this correction can be made. It goes hand in hand with the previous one.

While there is no shortage of methods for achieving these two goals, I’ll demonstrate just one for you today. It’s a remarkably straightforward process and one you should definitely have in your toolkit.

In today’s post, I’ll be using Adobe Photoshop to both brighten and change the color of a model’s eyes. I’ll be using the Curves adjustment for both of these things. I’ll also be taking advantage of the mask that this adjustment layer creates.

The Demo Photo​

In this photo, you’ll notice that the model already has fairly bright eyes. That’s not a concern because it’s the process I’d like you to focus on, not so much the photo I’m using. After all, what I demonstrate today is applicable across all type of photographs.


Applying the Curves Adjustment​

The photo is already launched into Photoshop. The first thing I’ll do is to head over to the Adjustments panel and click on the Curves adjustment icon.


When I do that, the Properties panel will open up. A new layer will also appear in the Layers panel. This is the Curves adjustment layer.


Adding Some Brightness​

Okay, here’s where things get interesting. Right now, I have a new adjustment layer that’s visible (the white mask makes everything visible). If I make any change to the curve in the Properties panel, that change will immediately show across the entire photo. With this in mind, I’ll click on the line in the Properties panel and drag it upward and to the left. This doesn’t need to be perfect because it’s adjustable later on.


As you can see from above, the eye is now nice and bright, but so is everything else.

Inverting the Mask​

Since I don’t want the entire photo brightened, I’ll need to invert the mask so none of it is brightened. Then, I’ll use the Brush Tool to reveal the area of the eyes I’d like exposed. First though, I’ll invert the mask.

To invert a mask in the Properties panel, I’ll click the small Mask icon.


Once in the new panel, I’ll click the Invert button down at the bottom.


I need to mention a few things here. For these buttons to be active, you’ll need to make sure the mask in the Layers panel is active. If it isn’t, just click on it. Also, once the button is clicked, you’ll notice the photo seemingly revert to the original look. That’s not actually the case. Any brightening you did previously is merely being hidden by the mask. Finally, you’ll notice the mask turn from white to black in the Layers panel. This is what’s supposed to happen.

Brushing in the Brightness​

At this point, I’d like to begin revealing some of the brightness I previously applied. To do this, I’ll head over to the left toolbar and click on the Brush Tool.


Once that tool is active, I’ll make sure its color is white and I’ll change the opacity value in the options bar up top to 25%. The reason for this is because I’d like any changes I make to be subtle. Creating really bright eyes right off the bat can look terrible. The goal is to make things look better naturally. I’ll also resize the brush by clicking the [ and ] keys on my keyboard. And last but not least, I’ll be sure the brush has a soft edge.

Okay, I brushed the center of the eyes and I think they look pretty good. Let’s have a look.


Now, let’s see what I actually painted into the mask. To show the mask as an overlay on top of the photograph in the workspace, I’ll hold down the Alt key on my keyboard and click on the mask in the Layers panel. When I do that, the mask will appear very large. This is helpful if you’re working on things that are very intricate.


Editing the Look​

There are a number of methods for editing the look of the eyes at this point. If I wanted to, I could go back into the Properties panel and drag the curve around some more. What I did earlier was create a template. That template keeps the edited area restricted. Now, I can change the look of the edited area. So again, dragging the curve in the Properties panel around will accomplish that.

Next, I could use the Brush Tool with some black or gray applied to it to alter the mask itself. That will change the look.

Finally, I could slide the Opacity slider in the Layers panel back and forth to reduce or intensify the opacity of the adjustment layer. That’s very effective as well.

Changing the Color of the Eyes​

For this section, I’ll simply point you in the direction of where you’ll need to be to alter the color of any eyes you work on in Photoshop.

In the Properties panel, if you click on the drop-down that says RGB, you’ll see a few more values. The first is Red, the second is Green and the third is Blue. If you click on one of these values, you’ll see a new curve line that can be dragged in any direction. As you drag, you’ll easily see the effect you’re having on the revealed area of the mask. In this case, it’s the eyes.


In the above screenshot, I decided to add some green to the model’s eyes via the Red curve adjustment. Your mileage will vary with this type of edit based on the original color of the eyes as well as how strong your adjustment is. Mine is very light, so the green isn’t overwhelming. Let’s take a look at the final photo.


I’d say that looks pretty good. The change isn’t overwhelming and it looks very natural.


I hope I clearly explained how to brighten or darken someone’s eyes inside of Adobe Photoshop. I also hope I clearly explained how to change the colors of someone’s eyes as well. If you have any questions about this post, please leave them in the comments section down below. Thanks for reading!