How to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop

How to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop

How to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop

Our 'Eye Sparkle' Action from the Pure Color Workflow collection is absolutely fabulous at giving you tack sharp results and stunning eyes with just a click of your mouse.  With options to sharpen, add contrast, lighten the iris, pop the highlights and define lashes, this all-in-one Eye Sparkle action has you covered.

Take a look at our step by step tutorial that covers how to use the Eye Sparkle action to brighten and accomplish a clean and polished look when editing your clients eyes.

Portrait Photoshop Actions

Let's get started!

First, scroll down to the Pure Color Workflow Retouch Set and click on Eye Sparkle. Then press the play button at the bottom of the Actions panel and press continue.

How to Make Eyes Stand Out in Photoshop

If you have Photoshop versions CS2 through CS6, simply click next to the folder on your little triangle or arrow to open and close it.  If you have Photoshop Elements, you will scroll down to the bottom of your collection.  You will see an action called Open Folder, PSC - you willl want to play that action to open your folder in any Photoshop Elements 11 or higher that you are using.

Now that you have your folder open, you will find many different options to choose from when enhancing the eyes in your image.  When making changes to each of these layers, you want to click on the layer mask.  The layer mask is the black rectangle on each layer.

Now I am just going to zoom in, so I can see the eyes a little better.  I'd like to brighten the eyes a bit, enhance the catchlights, and add a bit of clarity/sharpness to the eyes.  So let's go in and make some adjustments.

1. Bold Catchlights

Let's start with bold catchlights - this action will enhance the catchlights in her eyes.  Make sure your brush tool is selected. Make sure white is selected as the the foreground color.  If not, just click on the little arrow to toggle between black and white.  Also, make sure your brush opacity is set at 100%.

Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop with the brush tool

After my brush and layer mask are selected, I am going to brush over any white or light reflections that I am seeing.  To see the difference that the action is making, you can click on the little eyeball next to the Bold Catchlights layer.

Photoshop Eyes Pop

Notice how the eyes now have a little bit more of a glow to them.  If you want to increase the effect and make it a bit stronger, just click on the opacity of that particular layer and you can bring the strength of the effect up.  For my image, I am going to keep the opacity right around 35%.

How to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop

2. Lighten Iris

Next, we are going to go down to Lighten Iris.  Make sure you are zoomed in on the eye and then using the Lighten Iris Brush, start to paint over the iris area (the colorful part of the eye).  If the action is not giving you the lightness that you are looking for, just adjust the opacity to make it a little bit stronger.

3. Bold Lashes

Now, let's move down to bold lashes.  I generally keep the opacity at 100% when working with women and bring it down to about 40% opacity with boys.

Taking a small size brush, I am going to drag it along the lash line.  Sometimes, if they have a dark rimmed edge on their iris, I will paint over the outer edge of their iris as well to give some extra definition.  Again, you can adjust the opacity to increase or decrease the effect.  For this image, I am going to leave the opacity right where it is.

How to Make Eyes Pop Photoshop

4. Contrast and Clarity

I am just going to brush a bit of contrast over both eyes.  If one or both of the eyes are dark, you might choose to use this only on the brighter eye or not at all.  Contrast is going to deepen and darken the dark parts of the eye and you won't want that if you are already trying to brighten one or both of the eyes.

Generally, I think that clarity always looks good on the eyes so I will bring a touch more clarity to both eyes.

How to Make Eyes Stand Out in Photoshop

5. Check Your Adjustments

Once you are done making adjustments, you can go ahead and close the folder and zoom back out.  You can click on the eyeball to turn the action on and off to see what sort of changes you made compared to the original.

Eyes Pop Photoshop

For my image, I really like the effect that I am getting.  Sometimes I will bring the layer opacity of the entire Eye Sparkle action folder down to zero and just work my way up to find where it best fits the image.  I think I am going to keep this one right around 75% because I don't want to overdo it.

Keep in mind it is easy to overdo the eyes - and you don't want to overdo the eyes in your image.

How to Make Eyes Pop Photoshop

As you can see, it is so super simple to use the Eye Sparkle Action.  I really hope this eye retouch tutorial helps answer any questions and gets you a little bit more familiar with the Eye Sparkle Action that is included in the Pretty Actions Pure Color Workflow Collection.  It really is an amazing Photoshop Action collection that has absolutely everything you need to edit portraits!

If you are more of a visual learner, we have included a video tutorial you can review that includes all of the editing steps discussed above.

How to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop - Video Tutorial


Do you have any questions or comments about How to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

Portrait Photoshop Actions