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3 Techniques for Using Eye Manipulation Effects in Photoshop

Simon Slangen 09-04-2012

eye manipulationPhoto touchups are a part of reality these days. If you don’t go overboard with it, I think that’s quite alright. Most people now even correct their own home photos.


Whether you’re a professional designer, or an amateur photographer, some of those little tweaks can help bring out the subject of the photograph.

One of the most difficult aspects of a picture, both to capture in a photograph and to correct little blemishes, are the eyes. The eyes often enjoy the focus of the onlooker, and a slight detail can quickly look out of place. Often, these blemishes are awfully close to the parts of the picture that you do indeed treasure. Taking your time is the message.

Below are three relatively simple ways to touch up the eyes of a picture’s subject, arranged in increasing difficulty: removing red glares, taking care of bags under the eyes, and changing the eye color entirely.

Our Source Image

In most of the eye manipulation techniques discussed below — that is, whenever possible — we used the same source image: Bright Eyes by mokra. The image can be downloaded without charge, and you can use it to follow through the steps below. This is already a beautiful shot, but we will try to make some changes in and around the model’s eyes.

eye manipulation


In the course of this article, we will only focus on her right eye. The image is rather large, so you might want to crop it first. If you do, make sure to keep at least some part of her face intact; we will, for example, need the skin tone of her cheeks to improve the skin around her eyes.

Fix Red Eyes

A camera flash can sometimes be an evil thing. Your subject, instead of being captured in all his or her beauty, gets an impromptu eye makeover. Luckily, red eyes are an easy thing to fix in Photoshop. In fact, most imaging software already include a tool to fix red eyes.

eye manipulation photoshop

The Red Eye Tool is located below the Spot Healing Brush Tool and the Healing Brush Tool. With the Red Eye Tool selected, two interesting options will appear in your toolbar: Pupil Size and Darken Amount. You see, Photoshop removes the red glare by darkening the pupil. Depending on the amount of glare and size of the pupil, you might want to take a go at these.


eye manipulation photoshop

To remove the red glare from a subject’s eyes, simply click with your mouse in the center of the red pupil. Was too big an area covered? Too small? Undo your last action and change the Pupil Size. If the Red Eye Tool didn’t completely eradicate the glare, or went a bridge too far, you’re looking at the Darken Amount.

Remove The Bags Under The Eye

Bags might be an overstatement in this image, rather a slight discoloration beneath the eye. Still, this can be improved. The procedure is the same with serious bags (the kind that follows suit after a long night out).

To fix the discoloration, we will use the Patch Tool. You can find it below the Spot Healing Brush Tool and the Healing Brush Tool.


eye manipulation photoshop

With the Patch Tool in hand, select the area of the bags. You’ll need to draw the selection area with your cursor. Be careful not to include her eyelashes.

eye manipulation photoshop tutorial

Next, still using the Patch Tool, drag the selection downwards, so the selection is replaced by a more favorable skin tone. Don’t worry if the edges don’t entirely match up. You’re not really replacing this selection, just using a skin sample to point Photoshop in the right direction.


eye manipulation photoshop tutorial

When you release your mouse, the skin under her eyes should be corrected. So long, imperfection. If only it were this easy in real life.

Change The Eye Color

There are several different practices in changing eye color using Photoshop. In my eyes, this is most easily achieved by using the Color Replacement Tool. This can be found under the Brush Tool and Pencil Tool.

eye manipulation photoshop tutorial

In the toolbar, change the Mode to Hue Change, if it isn’t already. A color replacement won’t do the job here.

3 Techniques for Using Eye Manipulation Effects in Photoshop Screen Shot 2012 03 31 at 19

Change your Foreground Color to a color with the same hue as the eye color you’re aiming for. Because we’re only interested in the hue, it may be preferable to select a bright color, but that is a personal choice.

3 Techniques for Using Eye Manipulation Effects in Photoshop Screen Shot 2012 03 31 at 19

Use the brush tool carefully to cover the iris of the eye. The more time you invest in tracing the borders, the cleaner it will look close up. If you’re not satisfied with the color you got, go back and change the hue. This might take a few tries until you get used to it.

If you don’t have a steady hand, you can first select the part of the iris you want to correct with a selection tool of your choice. After tweaking the selection, you’ll be able to paint inside the iris without fear of contaminating the skin or whites of the eyes.

eye manipulation

Be careful not to blindly fill in the entire iris. If you look closely to the photo above, part of the iris color is a reflection of the sky. If you want to keep the authenticity of the picture, leave that part of the iris be, or use a slightly different hue to keep the impression of a sky reflection intact, albeit on the background of a different color. Here, I simply went around the reflection, since it wasn’t much contaminated by the brown eye color.

Do you have any other eye manipulation tricks up your sleeve? Share your Photoshop expertise in the comments section below!

Related topics: Adobe Photoshop, Image Editor, Photography.

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  1. Private Fotos
    April 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Hi there, You have done a fantastic job. I'll definitely digg it and for my part recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this web site.

  2. Jouni "Rautamiekka" Järvinen
    April 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    What rationale forbids GIMP ?

    • Simon Slangen
      April 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Nothing. Should the recognition of their respective values be mutually exclusive? :-)

      Personally, I've never gotten along very well with GIMP, even though I recognize it as a great piece of software.

      • Simon Slangen
        April 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

        By the way, there are other writers at MUO who have written some very comprehensive GIMP tutorials. Check it out!

        • Jouni "Rautamiekka" Järvinen
          April 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

          Awesome ! Will do.

      • Jouni "Rautamiekka" Järvinen
        April 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        Dunno ... No way I'd drop GIMP in favor of Ps but most of people are far too stupid to consider a completely free cross-platform replacement just cuz there are more shit for Ps than for GIMP.

        • AB
          April 9, 2012 at 11:25 pm

          I'd be happy to switch over to gimp when they figure out how to make it load faster in windows. It runs like a champ (I run Gimpshop) on my linux partition but under windows it takes nearly 3 minutes to load gimp on my i7

        • Jouni "Rautamiekka" Järvinen
          April 9, 2012 at 11:28 pm

          Completely impossible ! It never started that slow on any of our computers and none of them are awesome. Something is seriously corrupted or otherwise broken.

  3. Sunny
    April 9, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Really useful for newbie like me
    Thanks for Sharing