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Changing eye colour to Blue in Photoshop

This tutorial is not about how to become Frank Sinatra, it’s intended to help you with retouching your photographs.

In the digital era, correcting photographs has become very easy but still we cannot leave everything to our camera or computer. It is always better to do some work manually because the results can be much better.

The topic of this tutorial is how to create Blue eyes. Of course, you can use similar methods to create Green and Brown eyes but I’d very careful with changing the eyes to Pink.

Ok let’s start. I found this photograph at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1113322.

Its quite good; but we could try to enhance this picture a little bit.

Stock image from Stock XchngStock image from Stock Xchng

Technique 1 - The most basic technique to turn the eyes to Blue

1. Open the image in Photoshop
2. Go to Layers palette and create the new empty layer by clicking the “New Layer” icon in the bottom right corner of the palette.

Creating a new empty layer in PhotoshopCreating a new empty layer in Photoshop

3. Now change the New Layer blending mode from Normal to Soft Light

Changing the blending mode in PhotoshopChanging the blending mode in Photoshop

4. Pick some nice Blue shade for your foreground, something not too vivid and not too dull, I picked #3399CC

Colour picker in PhotoshopColour picker in Photoshop

5. Select the Brush Tool and adjust the size of the brush using Left Bracket key “[” to decrease or Right Bracket key “]” to increase the size. If you hold down the SHIFT key you make the brush edges softer (“SHIFT+[“ ) or harder (“SHIFT+]”)
6. Now make sure you have New Layer selected. Start painting over the eyes. You’ll notice that colour is changing very subtley, and all the details are preserved.

Eye colour changingEye colour changing

7. The final effect should look like this.

Eye colour retouchedEye colour retouched

If you want to adjust the effect , it’s very easy. If you think that effect is to strong, you can decrease the opacity of the New Layer. If you think the effect is to subtle, simply duplicate New Layer by dragging it onto New Layer Icon , or go to Layer > Duplicate Layer.
You could also change the blending mode of the New Layer from Soft Light to Color

Duplicating the new layerDuplicating the new layer

Technique 2

This method is very similar to the previous one, but this time we’re going to use Photoshop’s Colour Replacement Tool instead of the Brush.
1. Open the image in Photoshop
2. Duplicate the Background Layer by dragging it onto “New Layer” icon ( Layer > Duplicate Layer)
3. Select the Color Replacement Tool and set your foreground to nice shade of Blue, I picked #3399CC ... again.

Colour replacement toolColour replacement tool

4. Paint over the Eyes ;)

Using colour replacement tool in PhotoshopUsing colour replacement tool in Photoshop

5. And as the result you should see something similar to this

Eye colour retouched using colour replacementEye colour retouched using colour replacement

It looks good.. but still, it could be much better. So, let’s try the third way.

Technique 3

1. Open the Image in Photoshop
2. Now we have to extract “the eyes” and copy them onto a separate layer. There are many ways to do it, we’re going to use the Quick Mask Mode. Below the Foreground / Background colour indicator there is small icon, click it !

Quick mask icon in PhotoshopQuick mask icon in Photoshop

Now a weird thing happens. The colour indicators automatically swap to black and white, and if you try to paint, you’ll see it’s painting red! Don’t panic. That’s how we create a Quick Mask - we basically paint it. So paint over “the eyes” on the image.

Drawing a quick maskDrawing a quick mask
Quick mask drawnQuick mask drawn

3. Once you’ve finished painting, click again on Quick Mask icon - you’ll see that the Quick Mask has converted itself to a selection.

Quick mask selection in photoshopQuick mask selection in photoshop

The problem is that selection has to be inversed so just go to Select > Inverse ( CTRL+SHIFT+I)

Inverse selectionInverse selection

4. Now we create new layer from the selection go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy or hit CTRL+J
5. Now you have a new layer with “The Eyes” only

Original layer and eyes layerOriginal layer and eyes layer

6. Go to Image > Adjustments > Curves (CTRL+M) and manipulate the curves to get something similar to this, then press OK

Adjusting curves in PhotoshopAdjusting curves in Photoshop

7. Go to Image > Adjustments > HUE/SATURATION (CTRL+U) and use settings below.
Make sure that you have ticked “Colorize”. Then press OK.

Editing hue saturationEditing hue saturation

8. Now your image should look something like this

Recoloured imageRecoloured image

It’s almost perfect, just one more thing
9. Select Dodge Tool, set its opacity to 20%. Then click on the background layer, and paint over the white areas in the eyes. Remember: don’t go too far or else she’ll look like a Zombie, be subtle ;)
That’s it!

Completely retouched eye colourCompletely retouched eye colour

Side by side comparisons

Now You can compare 4 images and see which technique suits you most:

Stock image from Stock XchngStock image from Stock Xchng
Method 1 soft light layer modeMethod 1 soft light layer mode
Method 2 color replacement toolMethod 2 color replacement tool
Method 3 curves and hue saturationMethod 3 curves and hue saturation

Comments3 Comments

fsdf

Good Article. Very helpful.

06 July 2009

Web Design, London

Thank you for providing step by step instructions. Although I have been designing for a few years now, I always thought that tasks like this including changing eyer colour or other facial features was much more complicated. You have made it look so straightforward.

29 July 2010

Doug

you should have stopped at #8, her eyes look so fake after that.

28 October 2010

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