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An Easy Eye Enhancing Tip

A quick and easy tip for a Thursday.  This tutorial is really an extension from a post I did a while back on High Pass Sharpening but in this tutorial we’ll be applying it to eyes and controlling it with a mask.


Usually this effect is applied at the end of your workflow when the portrait is almost ready to go.


1.  Using the little known, but very useful, keystroke shift-alt-cmd E (Mac) shift-alt-ctrl (PC) create a composite of all your layers at the top of the layer stack.


Image 1


2.  Turn this layer into a Smart Filter layer.  Filter – Convert for Smart Filters.  Ignore the obscure keystroke in the image, its one I created for my Wacom tablet.


Image 2


3.  Now we get to use the almost equally obscure High Pass filter.  Filter – Other – High Pass


Image 3


4. Now the filter dialog is open us the cursor to center the eye in the preview window.  Admittedly things don’t look too promising at the moment but it will improve, honest.


Image 4


I’ve found that the sweetspot for sharpening with my camera is a around 3 pixels but please have a play around until you get things right; this is why we created the layer as a smart filter layer because you can go back in and alter the strength.


Press OK once you’ve got the image to you liking.


5.  The photograph at this point looks a tad yucky.  To cure this problem we need the help of blending modes.  From the Blending modes dropdown select Overlay.


Image 5


This returns the image back to its original state but with overall crunchy sharpening.  Now this level of sharpening is too much and we want to limit it to the eyes.


6.  When the smart filter layer was created it also created a layer mask.  Do not use it for the next stage!  First press D then X so that the foreground colour is set to black.  Next, with the filter layer selected click on the layer mask icon, at the bottom of the layer palette, while holding the alt key.


Image 6


Voila, a layer mask already filled with black.


7.  With the brush tool and foreground colour set to white (press X or D to return white to the foreground colour) paint over the eyes to reveal the sharpening and your done.


Before (top) and After


The Finished Photograph

About Richard Hales (35 Articles)
Richard’s first foray into was photography was as an apprentice photographer for Oxford University over 20 years ago. From there Richard went on to study photography at University somehow gaining a BA & MA, he still is rather confused how he managed to do this. After University and an unfinished (and un-started) PhD Richard “retired” from photography for a few years to pursue a career in wine and, oddly, scrap metal before returning to photography and setting up a wedding and portrait photography business in Worcestershire. As well as running his photography business Richard is currently working on a bread & jam making book. He is the average height for a Nut.

3 Comments on An Easy Eye Enhancing Tip

  1. If you swich the blend mode to overlay BEFORE invoking the hi-pass filter, you can see the effect onscreen as you adjust the slider.

  2. Glenn,

    Thats so blindingly obvious now you’ve said it, thanks for pointing it out.


  3. Excellent tip, including the keystroke shortcut.

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