Thursday, September 18, 2008

The eyes have it

Just what you've all been waiting for! Another Photoshop tutorial. Again, I use Photoshop Elements 5.0, but this particular trick works pretty much the same in all'll just have to figure out where everything is.

I love sparkly, catchlit eyes in my photographs. To me, that's the best part of a photo. So, this little trick is to help enhance those gorgeous peepers. I don't do this to every photo, by the way, just to the ones that I really love.

Step 1:

First, you have to have a photo that already has nice catchlights. You can't do this trick on eyes that do not have any reflection in them, or on the eyes that just have pinlights from a flash.

If you need help on getting the catchlights in your eyes in the first place, click here.

Step 2:
Open up said photo in photoshop, and zoom in on one of the eyes.
Step 3:
Choose the Magnetic Lasso Tool. The Lasso tools are on the side tool bar, and look like a lasso (shockingly enough). The magnetic one is more triangular shaped and has a red square on it.
Step 4:
Start tracing around the iris of the eye with the magnetic lasso tool. You can click your mouse to make sure the "magnetic" points are right where you want them, or you can let the tool pick those points (not always accurately) for itself.
Step 5:
Once you have traced around the entire iris, double click to stop tracing. If you don't double click the magnetic tool just keeps doing it's thing.
Step 6:

Go up to Enhance>Adjust Sharpness
Step 7:
A dialog box will pop open. Play with the sliders to find what you like. My go to numbers are 49% for amount and 10.4 pixels for radius. Sometimes that's too much, sometimes it isn't enough, but usually it's just perfect. You will be able to see the sharpness of the eye change as you change the numbers.

Here is what can happen if you use the wrong numbers. Remember, the goal is to enhance, not look like an alien.
Anyway, after you find numbers you're happy with, click OK.
Step 8:
Repeat steps 2-7 on the other eye.

Step 9:

Save your photo.

Here is the difference:

Chloe's eyes before enhancing. They're fine. They're beautiful.

Chloe's eyes after enhancing. They're more than fine and they are enhanced beautifully.

Pioneer Woman has a slightly different way of doing this, which you can find here.

Scott Kelby also has a different way of doing this in his Photoshop books. It is extremely complicated and involves oversharpening the entire picture and then doing a mask layer and painting out the eyes. I don't even remember all the steps. I suggest you don't try it, although he has other wonderful things that are not so difficult.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed!
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. I've done it a couple of times, but i always end-up feeling like it's creepy. Although, yours doesn't look creepy (and I usually don't think anyone else's does either).
    I hope you had a nice recital. I'm off to work in a few minutes.

    Miss me.

  2. Great tip. Your so talented.

  3. Thanks!!! So helpful--I've been looking for something similar.

  4. This is a post for those people who take good pictures and know how to use Photoshop, right? I guess I need to start with the picture thing, and then I will attempt Photoshop. But I have cousins I will forward this link to, because they like to take pictures AND know how to use Photoshop. So thanks!

  5. Your diagram reading "scary!" almost made me shoot coffee through my nose. Hilarious!

    Good stuff, though—it's amazing what a subtle shift can do for a photo.

  6. oh that's neat! I think my photoshop is 2.0 but I know I have the magic lasso thing. Although it always takes me 20 million tries to capture anything.

  7. I think it's great that you share this knowledge! I'm so much more interested in seeing tutorials than actually reading through the huge book to find out on my own.

  8. THANK YOU! You're right about Scott's's a little overwhelming! Yours was just perfect for me..I'm going to try it out now that I feel alittle more confident with your directions!
    Next, I want you to tell me how to get that cute little black rim around my pictures that I see all the time in yours...

  9. I am sure that Sam will appreciate the lesson. It is all too much for me, but he loves that kind of stuff! How did the shows go?

  10. OH.. well.. you know.. I've told you in the past.. I um... have photoshop since last Christmas and I've done NOTHING with it.. I'm going to TRY THIS!! for sure.. I have to do daughters senior portraits THIS weekend.... ( cutting it close)... but it's so hard to track down a SENIOR!!! UGH!!

  11. I have CS2, so I'm not sure if this will work the same in Elements, but you can actually do both eyes at the same time. Up in the left hand corner, where the settings for the tools are, you can click on new selection, add to selection, take away from selection. After you select the first eye, you can click on add to selection and select the second eye. Then when you sharpen, you only have to do it once. Hope this'll work for you! (and hope it makes sense)