How to brighten eyes in Photoshop.

Captivate your audience with this eye-brightening technique in Adobe Photoshop.

In photography, the human eye is a fascinating subject. When done correctly, a photo of the eyes can reveal mesmerizing subtleties or beautiful flecks of color that can really capture a viewer’s attention. Sometimes, though, bad conditions (such as poor lighting) or an incorrect camera setting can get in the way of a good photo. Fortunately, you can make any portrait pop with just a few small edits.

Brighten eyes with these simple steps.

When we talk about brightening eyes in photos, what we’re really focusing on is the iris — so you’ll want to concentrate your editing efforts on the most colorful part of the eye. As with most special effects, you will need to work in layers. Follow the steps below to brighten eyes in your photos.

  • Open the photo in Photoshop.
  • Create an adjustment layer. Duplicate your photo by selecting Layer > duplicate layer or CTRL/CMD J, then click on the Adjustment layer icon and select Curves. When this layer is active, a box with a diagonal line will appear.
  • Adjust the line. Push the diagonal line upwards to add light to the photo. This effect will lighten the entire photo, but just pay attention to the brightness of the eyes here.
  • Invert the mask. Tap Command + I or Ctrl + I to hide the effect. This effectively places your brightness edits behind the top layer.
  • Ready the brushes. Select Brush from the side toolbar, making sure its foreground color is white. Click down on the carat to the right of the brush thumbnail and navigate to the appropriate brush style. A soft round brush will probably work best here.
  • Brighten up. Zoom in on the eyes for accuracy and use your chosen brush tool to carefully paint the irises. This reveals the brightness created from the underlayer and gives the irises their glow.

Be careful to paint only the iris — brightening the white portion of the eye can make a photo look unnatural. To fine-tune, reopen the Curve Adjustment box and increase or decrease the diagonal line. Or, if the effect is too bright, simply decrease the opacity until you get it just right. Discover more tips and tricks for creating seamless edits.

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