Eyes are easily the most important point of any portrait, and my favourite facial feature. I really love making eyes pop. I could spend hours studying the details of an eye. Alright I'm going to show you how I make eyes pop through my editing workflow, which I've slowly perfected over the past year or so.
just a heads up when shooting eyes make sure you have a nice big highlight and SHARPNESS!
my work flow for eyes usually goes,
- Curves Layer
to brighten up the iris and reveal more detail, I will often to do two or three different curve layers to bring out different tones in the eye (effectively dodging and burning)
- Colour balance Layer
this you can change the whole colour of the eye, going through; Shadows, Midtones and Highlights. I can get quiet carried away in this layer changing someone from a demon to a ice warrior off game of thrones 😂. but I mainly use this layer to bring the original colours up a touch to make it POP
- Painting white in with a blank Layer
if you press CMD-SHIFT-N (Mac) and create a new layer, change the blending mode to SOFT LIGHT and click FILL WITH SOFT LIGHT-NEUTRAL- COLOUR (50% GREY)
Select the brush tool, select a soft edge brush and change the flow to 2%. making sure your colour on the swatch is set to white, paint in the light areas of the iris that stand out to you try not to be to crazy though it'll start to appear "over done"
Repeat this step but with black in the swatch and paint in the dark areas including the pupil giving you great contrast! (its essentially dodging and burning twice for twice the detail)
- Painting in eyelashes and eyebrows on a Black Layer
this is something thats taken a bit of practise to perfect, but if you follow my steps it'll make it easier to get a great finish
Grab the brush tool, set the flow to 30-40%, press the OPTION KEY which gives you the eye dropper tool, wave the mouse of the darkest eyelash.
now paint in the hairs trying to follow the natural direction of hair filling any gaps in the hair. (this is something that takes practise just keep at it you'll eventually get it!)
- Sharpening on a Blank Layer
I don't use this every time as a lot of the time the eyes are sharp enough for me.
Grab the sharpen tool (the its the small triangle in the tool bar) and very gently wave over the iris maybe once or twice DO NOT use this too much it starts to distort and change colours and detail.
As you can tell everything I do is very subtle, everything adds up to give you an eyes that really do POP.
if you've got any questions (including my camera settings and equipment) don't hesitate to flick me an email/ message on instagram! 😊