PPC Quickie - Eye Enhancement in PSE (studio)

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Posted 4/12/2010 by flute4peace in General Photography


PeaNut 329,425
July 2007
Posts: 13,974
Layouts: 45
Loc: tornado alley

Posted: 4/12/2010 10:13:07 PM
Here's a quickie for ya - eye enhancement in PSE. I was playing with some headshots I'll be doing for K2's ballet class coming up, and thought it might be a good one to show you my quickie eye pop. This was inspired by JennH so I've got to give her the credit for it (she does quite a bit more in her eye pop, though). I really like this because it's subtle, and it lightens the iris rather than darkens it the way I see some of the actions out there do.

For the sake of honesty, I had already PPd this picture before I decided to do this, so it's already been enhanced & sharpened, but you can get the gist of what I do anyway. It was handy and I've got a few minutes to kill so figured why not share.

Ok so...here's the starter image. For those lighting geeks like myself, I did this with my 50D, a 36x48 box camera left (and almost on top of her, lol) at f8+, fill bounced off the back wall (it's usually around 5.6ish), hair light is a strip box on full power (no I didn't meter it Celeste, you should be proud!), and back light is a bare bulb w/ parabolic aimed at the camera, lowest power. I cloned out the fill light before I started. And for the sake of full disclosure that light is too low, it should have been raised so that the rim light goes all the way up (see you're getting a two-fer, lol! )

For the sake of being able to see, I'll crop in:

Ok...Jenn usually does some sharpening before she starts (high pass, I think?), which I won't go over here. For my first step, I make 2 duplicate layers and change the middle layer to linear dodge. :

I put a mask on the top layer and brush in the middle layer, usually at around 14-17% opacity (google for free layer mask action elements). Watch here that you don't get creepy - it's very easy to go too far! If you're not sure, turn the middle layer off and on a few times and see how it looks. Ordinarily, I would also brush once over the whites of the eyes, but I didn't in this picture since they had already been enhanced once.


Next you're going to burn around the outside of the iris. You want midtones and around 17ish%, depending on the color of the iris and whether there is already a darkening there. You can do this on a separate layer if you're not confident. I don't usually, simply because it's faster for me to ctrl-Z if I need to than create a new layer . But I did it on a new layer here for the sake of teaching.

Flatten (if necessary)

Now you're going to dodge the colored portion of the iris that's opposite the catchlight. If this were natural light, I'd also dodge a bit in the catchlight, but I don't like to do it for studio because it makes it too bright. I usually dodge the highlights at around 13ish%.

Flatten (if necessary)

I would then continue on with my workflow, which typically includes Ren's Gentle Boost, a little curves and one of Jess' sharpening actions.

And that's it. Have a good night, everyone!



PeaNut 286,202
December 2006
Posts: 1,717
Layouts: 4
Loc: Charlotte-ish

Posted: 4/12/2010 10:58:03 PM
Can't wait to try it! Thanks for sharing


Nikon D700
50 mm 1.4
85 mm 1.8
Tamron 28-75 2.8


PeaNut 39,805
June 2002
Posts: 4,325
Layouts: 37
Loc: Roy, Utah

Posted: 4/13/2010 12:17:02 AM
This is great, Nikki! I'm on my phone right now, just about to go to bed, so I will link this in the master list tomorrow. Thank you!


Life in Moments Photography Blog

Canon 40D!!!!!, Canon XT, Canon 18-55mm, Canon 50mm 1.8

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. - Audrey Hepburn

Ok, I have 5000 posts...now what?

PeaNut 230,463
November 2005
Posts: 10,109
Layouts: 1
Loc: West Virginia Mountains

Posted: 4/13/2010 8:52:02 AM
Nikki, thank you so much for this! I'll definitely give it a try when I get home

Sony A200 DSLR
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro
Sony 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 (kit lens)
Sony 50mm f/1.4
Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Telephoto/Macro
Sony 75-300 f/4.5-5.6 Telephoto (it was on sale for $69.00...I couldn't resist!)
Sony HVL-F20AM flash

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PeaNut 365,669
March 2008
Posts: 12,737
Layouts: 81
Loc: St. Louis, MO

Posted: 5/17/2010 9:42:51 AM
I missed this somehow the first time around. Thanks for sharing a great mini lesson, Nikki!

Blessings, Rebecca

My gear:
Nikon D700-a dream come true
50mm 1.8
70-200mm (old AF film lens)
Nikon D40-
55-200mm VR
Promaster 7400EDF flash
Close up macro filter set
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