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#87 Changing Eye Color

Changing eye color can add a creative twist to an otherwise ordinary image. By making just a small color adjustment to the eyes, the same subject can take on a completely new personality. This how-to presents three techniques for changing eye color.

Using the Color Replacement tool

The advantage of using the Color Replacement tool to enhance eye color is speed—it is the fastest way to change eye color. The disadvantage of using this technique is that it is not as flexible as the other techniques.

  1. Select the iris of the eye with the Lasso or Elliptical Marquee tool.
  2. Choose Select > Modify > Feather and add a 1-pixel feather to soften the selection edge.
  3. Press Ctrl + J (Windows) Command + J (Mac) to copy the selection to a new layer.
  4. Rename the layer New Eye Color (Figure 87a).
  5. Choose the Color Replacement tool from the Toolbox (Figure 87b).
  6. Click the Foreground Color box on the Toolbox to open the Color Picker and choose a foreground color.
  7. Select the New Eye Color layer and paint using the Color Replacement tool. The foreground color replaces the original color in the areas your brush passes over.

Using Hue/Saturation

Using Hue/Saturation to alter eye color gives you more control than the Color Replacement tool. The Hue/Saturation dialog box contains sliders to control hue, saturation, and lightness. Using all three sliders creates the best color.

  1. Select the iris of the eye using the Lasso or Elliptical Marquee tool. This selection will later turn into a mask on your adjustment layer.
  2. Choose Select > Modify > Feather and add a 1-pixel feather to soften the selection edge.
  3. In the Layers panel, click the Add Adjustment/Fill Layer icon and choose Hue/Saturation from the menu.
  4. In the Hue/Saturation dialog box, drag the Hue slider to change the eye color (Figure 87c).
  5. Click OK to apply the color adjustment.
  6. Change the opacity of the Hue/Saturation layer to fine-tune the color change.

Applying solid color

The advantage of applying solid color to change the look of the eyes is that it’s quick and easy.

  1. Select the iris of the eye using the Lasso or Elliptical Marquee tool. This selection will later turn into a mask on the adjustment layer.
  2. Choose Select > Modify > Feather and add a 1-pixel feather to soften the selection edge.
  3. In the Layers panel, click the Add Adjustment/Fill Layer icon and choose Solid Color.
  4. Choose a color from the Color Picker (Figure 87d).
  5. Click OK.
  6. In the Layers panel, change the blending mode of the Color Fill adjustment layer to Color (Figure 87e).
  7. Evaluate the results. If you are unhappy with the color you’ve chosen, it’s easy to change. In the Layers panel, double-click the Color Fill adjustment layer icon to reopen the Color Picker. Choose a new color and click OK.
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