Retouching Eyes Professionally – Photoshop CS6 Tutorial



1. Light In The Eyes

That old cliche “Get it right in the camera” is a good rule to follow in general. When it comes to eyes, having a good starting image makes all the difference in the world. The key is to have the eyes well exposed and if there is a catch light, that’s even better. NOTE: The catch light does not have to be a light that you have set up, oftentimes when shooting natural light images, the entire sky will become this big, beautiful catch light across the top of the eye.

Retouching Eyes Professionally - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

2. Blemishes On The Eye

I lead off by getting rid of red lines, and any other blemishes in the whites of the eyes. Create a new layer and grab the Clone Stamp tool (S) and set this tool to an opacity of 50%. Next go ahead and sample somewhere on the whites of the eye and, with a series of short strokes, begin painting over the blemishes on the eyes.

Retouching Eyes Professionally - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

3. Add Light

Go Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves and hit “OK” then set this Adjustment Layer to the Blend Mode of “Screen”. Grab your Brush tool (B) and set the brush opacity to 10% and choose a small, soft-edged brush. Go Image>Adjustments>Invert to flip the mask color from white to black. We can now use our brush to slowly and carefully paint some light into the eye. I typically add light to the bottom of the iris, brighten up the catch light, and add some light to the whites of the eye JUST outside of the iris. Check out where I point with the arrows in the screenshot below.

Retouching Eyes Professionally - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

4. Add Darkness

To increase the contrast of our eyeball here, we want to darken certain areas of the eye as well. Add another Curves Adjustment Layer like we did a moment ago but set this layer to the Blend Mode “Multiply and Invert the layer mask as we did in the last step. Use the same brush tool to darken the very center of the pupil and trace a small dark line around the very edge of where the iris meets the whites of the eyes also darken the “edges” of the actual eyeball to make these eyeballs look a tiny bit more 3D. You can also add a little darkness to the eyelashes to make them pop a little if you like as well. Check out my screenshot to see where I darkened.

Retouching Eyes Professionally - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

5. Vibrance

Add a new Vibrance Adjustment Layer and pull a little vibrance out of the image (I’m going with -15). Invert this mask and paint white over the eyes. NOTE: Make sure you’ve set your brush back to 100% opacity for this to work.

Retouching Eyes Professionally - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

6. Add Catchlight to Eyes

Sometimes we want to really accentuate that catch light. To do this we need to create a new catchlight and use it to boost up the sparkle in the eyes. TIP: Be very careful when doing this, you can really make your image look plastic and/or fake if you make the catch light to bold or bright. Create a new layer and grab the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) and drag out a small ellipse on our layer.

Retouching Eyes Professionally - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

7. Make the Catchlight Work

Fill this selection with white. Hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to duplicate this layer and drag it over to the other eye in the same position on the eye. Keeping out catchlights in the same spot on both eyes will help this look more realistic.

Retouching Eyes Professionally - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

8. Blending to Finish

Set both of these new catchlight layers to the Blend Mode of “Soft Light” and reduce the opacity until it looks good. With these eyes, an opacity of 50% looks great. I also like to add a very subtle blur to the catchlights. I’ve added a 1.5px Gaussian blur to these catchlights to help them blend even more. TIP: Depending on how much “edge” you want to see on the catchlights or the strength, simply adjust the Gaussian blur and opacity for many different possible results.

Retouching Eyes Professionally - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

Retouching Eyes Professionally - Photoshop CS6 Tutorial


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  1. says: SHAZnyc

    This is like the best tutorial on eyes ever. I did’t even know all this was possible. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. says: Wessex Wildlife Photography

    I used this on an image of a female tiger taken in India while on safari. It just made the eyes glow a little more and really improved the image by increasing engagement with the subject. Excellent!

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  24. says: Zahid Anowar

    I just watched your video tutorial. You have shown nicely how to eye of a photograph. I gather lot of unknown resources from your tutorial. I strongly recommend your creative design tutorial.

  25. says: james

    Wow this is so extra ordinary piece of tutorial. Each and every part over here shown very clearly, actually images made this post so unique and excellent. This is one of the rare post where lots of learning material added. Not only images, video over here this is also very helpful. After long days got very perfect post. Very professional work has been done here, real talent.

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