This is another down-n-dirty how to lesson today, based on editing eyes (eye color). This is loosely based on what I learned from the Calvin Hollywood series blended with other tips and tricks I have gathered over the years. The first step is getting a clear shot of the eyes. I am not a fan of sharpening the eyes into something unrealistic. I like to brighten them or change the color a bit, but I don’t like that fake-sharp look. So, get those eyes in focus!
As with my other tutorials, I am not going into a ton of detail on how to do this. Rather, I am giving you screen shots of what I do and a little explanation why. All images can be clicked on to be viewed full size. No need to be all wordy. So, without further ado, here we go.
1. Open up the image in Photoshop. For this example, it’s a RAW file of Natalie shot with a Carl Zeiss 1.4/85mm.
2. Next, click on the Quick Mask button and grab an appropriate sized brush (100%) and just paint over your models eyes. You will use the black paintbrush to add to the mask or the white paintbrush to take away from the mask.
I usually paint on the whole area in black, then clean up the edges with the white. Also, don’t worry of it’s perfect here, you can always re-edit the mask at a later time. We’ll actually be touching up this one further down.
Below, I am showing what I chose for brush settings:
3. Here, you can see what the Quick Mask looks like painted on. It’s not perfect, but it’s close.
4. Exit the Quick Mask mode and everything you painted red will turn to a selection. Choose the adjustment layer Selective Color which looks kind of like an X in a box. Now, you’ll see the eyes really brighten when you change the blend mode to Linear Dodge (Add).
5. Here is where you can go really crazy. I change the color mode to neutrals and just play with the color. You can go from green to blue to yellow to red…. really anything you want. My son loves when I give him blood-red demon eyes.
For this one, I chose to bring out the blues quite a bit more (more than I actually did in my final version) just to show the change a little more dramatically.
Have fun with this selection – and when you have completed all your other edits (skin tones, hues, etc) come back to the eyes and you can modify this some more or less to your liking. When I come back to the eyes, I find I usually went too crazy, so I fix it up here.
6. My next step is to give the eyes a little more depth. I paint this right on the mask with a small brush (about 8px) and 22% opacity. I go around the pupil and iris, bringing in the smallest amount of shade.
7. This step is quick – lower the opacity. I slide this back and forth until the eyes are a balanced, realistic color.
8. My final step is my longest step in the whole process. Dodging and Burning. I create a new layer set to soft-light blending, and filled with 50% gray (pictured right).
You can see my settings below for the dodge tool with a soft 8px brush at just 14% exposure. I like to keep this light and realistic. I dodge the whites of the eyes to brighten them a bit, burn the pupils and the very edges of the eyes. I say this is the longest portion of the process, but in reality it table about a minute. The whole process is no more than 3 or 4 minutes from start to finish. Below is my final result.