Tutorial: How to ‘Make Eyes Look Amazing’ In Photoshop

One of our favorite Photoshop tutorial websites, Phlearn, yesterday put out a tutorial that is both incredibly useful and a bit scary. Useful because making eyes pop in post is probably one of the most sought after Photoshop skills. Scary because this kind of manipulation is a slippery slope that could lead to photographers getting lazy and using the “fix it in post” excuse… so proceed with caution.

In just over 11 minutes, Phlearn’s Aaron Nace will show you how to color, brighten and sharpen the windows of your subject’s soul in post so that you can take that portrait to the next level. Here’s the before and after screenshots that show how much of a difference Nace is able to make:

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.39.22 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.39.22 PM 1

Obviously not everybody is going to want to go as far as he did, but both the results and the video demonstrate that Nace isn’t just haphazardly throwing copious amounts of color and brightness into these eyes. He takes careful stock of how the light comes in and reflects within the eyeball so that the final version turns out as natural looking as possible.

Would it be possible to capture eyes this bright and colorful in-camera? We’ll let the professional portraitists reading this tell us. If it is and you want to show people how to get these results without the Photoshop, write up/create a tutorial and send it our way! We’d love to share it with the readers. Until then, this might not be a bad tutorial to bookmark for future reference.

For more details, check out Phlearn’s own post about the video. And if you’d like to keep up with all of Phlearn’s tutorials, be sure to head over to their website or subscribe to their YouTube channel.

How To Color, Brighten and Sharpen Eyes in Photoshop [Phlearn]

  • Zak Holman

    O’ this must be Mr. Cosh Constantin Korpulov Romanian Dracula … very well done !

    Do you know him personally ?

  • Ric Ettinger

    very informative, yet entertaining. how do you do it?

  • Zos Xavius

    I think I like the first one better. The contrast and skin tones are nicer for starters. Secondly the adjusted eyes look artificial IMO. I think its the brightening. If he just popped the color out I think it would be more natural and eye catching. (pun intended)


    1. I respect Aaron and his photographic craftsmanship.

    2. But, as much as I enjoy fiddling in the realm of post-production (especially a few years back before Photoshop became a byword)… I’m sticking with a more elemental simplicity.

    3. This would be more enticing as part of a faux-painting lesson.

    In any case, thank you for the post and Aaron for the video.

  • Dover

    I’m gonna be ‘that’ guy.

    1: Why are you working on such a low res file?’
    B: Your curves adjustment was ham-handed
    lll: Your sharpen brush was ham handed (why re-sharpen an already over sharpened image?)
    4: In the name of the God of tutorials, why in the world would you blunder into an unrehearsed tutorial, make a huge mistake, and then try to cover it up with some lame attempt at wit? All you needed to do was cut out the blunder in the editing process and then none of us would even know how disorganized you were (and how much you don’t get simple editing). And 12:

    The original was better than the final image. Use Photoshop gingerly, not like a baseball bat.

    /that guy

  • Fullstop

    I’ve always been a fan of this guy. His flickr is both hilarious and brilliant. Some people have a creative gene that simply cannot be taught.

  • Dover

    *Spoiler alert*

    ‘Fullstop’ is Aaron Nace screen name…..

  • PrettyEyes

    Even if it might look artificial (which it doesn’t), it looks so much cooler!! I’ve always been obsessed with eyes, and this looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! Thanks for the tutorial!! XD

  • Kaybee

    LOVE it!!!

  • dan110024

    I’ve taken his technique but just eased back on the opacity of the layers to my liking. I also don’t use such saturated colours when painting the strokes. It’s still a good technique, you just have to adjust to your liking.

  • lyone

    So the rest of us would know how to fix our mistakes when we make them, too…….It was an intentional part of the tutorial. DUH.

  • lyone

    Of course, this is an over the top example……it’s a TUTORIAL. He’s doing everything LARGE for us so we’ll really notice the changes.

  • Fullstop

    Umm, no?
    So let me get this straight, because I admire his work and creativity that means that I must be him? Because obviously no one else on earth could possibly like his work.
    Bravo buddy. Brilliant logic.

  • TheFella

    Very cool tutorial! Would never have thought to take that approach.