I’m all about the easiest way to get from A to B and the process in this tutorial of making the eyes sparkle and shine in a portrait, is definately easy. You could use this on animals as well if you wanted.
You can download the image below to practise on if you like, just click through for the larger image.
Open the image in Photoshop, and click on the little ying yang symbol at the bottom of the layers palette to create a curves adjustment layer. Do not adjust any setting, just click OK, then change the layer blend mode to Screen. Click on the mask, and then press Ctrl + i on your keyboard to invert. Or you can go to Image>Adjustments>Invert. Double click on the writing (Curves 1) to change the name of this layer to Iris. Click on the ying yang symbol again and click on curves, don’t change any settings just click OK. Change the blend mode of this layer to Multiply, click on the mask and hit Ctrl + i on the keyboard to invert the mask. Rename this layer Pupil. You should end up with something similar to the image below.
Making sure that the foreground colour is white, that you are working on the ‘pupil’ layer mask, go and grab the pencil tool making sure that you are using a hard edge. You can simply press B on the keyboard to access the brush tool and to further scroll through to select the pencil tool use Shift + B on the keyboard. You’ll probably have to zoom in on this image to about 200%. Place the pencil over the pupil and use the right bracket key on the keyboard to increase (or the left bracket to decrease) the size of the pencil till if is covering the pupil and then click once. Go and do the same thing on the other eye 🙂 Still using the pencil and adjusting the size accordingly, go over the outside band of the iris – the dark bit – I don’t know what they are called 🙂 Look at the image below for an idea of what I am doing.
At the moment this will look really dark, but we haven’t finished with it yet. Still on the Pupil Mask go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and perhaps use a radius of 1 on this image ….. it will be different on a larger image of course. Then take the opacity of the layer down to whatever suits you. I used about 25% which I can go back and change at any time because I have used an adjustment layer. Lets work on the Iris Mask now. With your f/ground set to white and a soft edged brush (adjust with the bracket keys to suit) and making sure that you are working on the mask by clicking on it – we’re going to look at the specular highlights first. This image has quite a few and I’ve chosen to leave the largest ones alone, just click once on some of the smaller ones. This is going to look pretty weird when you first do it 🙂 Just remember that you are working on a mask and by pressing X on the keyboard you can paint out any of the work you want to change – just remember to press X to switch back to white 🙂
Still working on the layer mask, go to the top option bar and reduce the opacity of the brush to 50%. Now zoom in and paint over the Iris, because of the layer stack it won’t make any difference if you paint over the darker adjustments you just did. I took the opacity of the layer down to 50%.
You could go ahead now and sharpen the eyes with your favourite method, or you could continue to adjust and enhance the eyes. I went ahead and added a bit of depth to the eyelashes. There is a tutorial on it HERE Once I was happy with the eyelashes I merged the layers … then I decided he might look nice with different coloured eyes 🙂 I used a Selective Colour adjustment layer to turn his eyes green and finally flattened the image, duplicated the b/ground, set the blend mode to overlay used Filter>Other>High Pass to do some sharpening, and took the opacity of the layer down to 50%. And here is the end result – have fun 🙂
EDIT – Here is a comparison image. 1st is the original – 2nd the enhanced – 3rd the colour change.