Post Processing Brown Eyes

If I possessed a lighting system sophisticated enough, I would light the brown eyes of a model separately from the rest of her. Doing so would allow me to give the eyes a bit more light, allowing them to "come alive" so to speak. This is not possible with my system. Look at the eyes of model Karen Hernandez, photographed on location in Mammoth, Arizona with Benjamin James:

A nice headshot of Karen with no extra attention given to the eyes.

A nice headshot of Karen with no extra attention given to the eyes.

I almost always add more light to the eyes during retouching. It is very easy to do:

  1. Make a loose selection around both eyes with Photoshop's Lasso tool
  2. Command-J (Control-J) to jump the selection onto its own layer
  3. Change the layer blending mode to Screen
  4. Add a white layer mask
  5. Using a medium hardness black Brush on the layer mask, paint over the eyelids while avoiding the sclera, iris and pupils
  6. Adjust the layer opacity to your taste. I usually use 50%, as shown below:
A little light has been added to Karen's eyes.

A little light has been added to Karen's eyes.

This entire process takes about one minute. For more control, this could be done twice - once for the iris, and again for the sclera. Moreover, each eye could even be treated separately. The change should appear slight, and almost imperceptible in order to avoid a heavily retouched look. Remember, lots of small changes add up to produce a nicely-retouched portrait.