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Improving Eyes

Photographs that offer eye contact between viewer and subject have wide appeal and high impact, so learning how to enhance eyes is an important skill. To improve the appearance of eyes, you'll use multiple Adjustment Brush tool applications (see the close-up detail in Figure 5 and Figure 6).

Figure 5

Figure 5 To evaluate the eye for needed enhancements, zoom out to examine the entire photograph.

Figure 6

Figure 6 The before-and-after details reveal the effect of improving the eye.

  1. Press K or select the Adjustment Brush tool from the tool strip.
  2. For the first brush application, focus on brightening, sharpening, and increasing the color in the iris. Actual settings for each image will vary, but typically it's best to increase all the effects: Exposure, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Clarity, and Sharpness.
  3. Choose a brush size small enough to paint only on the iris and not the pupil. Increase the Feather amount and decrease the Flow so that you can build up the effect slowly (see Figure 7).
    Figure 7

    Figure 7 Use the Adjustment Brush tool with these settings to increase the overall brightness, sharpness, and color of the iris.

  4. Now that the brush is set, begin to paint on the iris with multiple brush strokes. The area of the iris that should be the brightest and sharpest is the area opposite the light source. In Figure 5, the light source is the sky above, so the bottom area of the iris is brightest and sharpest.
  5. For the second brush application, aim to darken the outer edge of the iris subtly. This effect gives the eye more shape and dimension. Lower the Exposure and Brightness while slightly increasing the Contrast, Clarity, and Sharpness settings (see Figure 8). Choose a very small brush size that matches the size of the iris edge. Increase the Feather setting and decrease the Flow amount.
  6. Begin to paint on the iris edge with multiple brush strokes, slowly building up the effect.
Figure 8

Figure 8 To add more shape to the eyes, use the Adjustment Brush tool with these settings to darken the outer edge of the iris.

In Lightroom you use one Adjustment Brush tool to accomplish multiple tasks such as sharpening, brightening, and enhancing color. In Photoshop you would need to use multiple layers and create multiple adjustments. Improving eyes in Lightroom is much faster!

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