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Photoshop Fashion Retouch – Shadowy, Sultry Eyes

Written by Steve Patterson.
When it comes to grabbing our attention, nothing seems to have the power to captivate us more than a person’s eyes, and in this Photoshop tutorial, we’re going to learn a fashion retouching technique to see how easy it is to give someone’s eyes a shadowy, sultry look to them. We’re also going to be bringing out their colors, adding some highlights, and generally making them look sharper. Keep in mind that this is an “icing on the cake” type of effect, to be done only after an image has already been corrected for tone and color.

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Here’s the image I’ll be using for this tutorial:

The original image
The original image.

And here’s our final effect:

The original image
The final result.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Create A New Layer And Name It "Shadows"

With my image open in Photoshop, I currently have one layer, the Background layer, containing my image:

The Layers palette in Photoshop
Photoshop’s Layers palette currently showing just the Background layer.

I need to create a new blank layer which is going to hold the shadows, so I’m going to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+N (Win) / Command+Shift+N (Mac) to bring up the New Layer dialog box:

The New Layer dialog box in Photoshop
Use the keyboard shortcut to bring up Photoshop’s “New Layer” dialog box.

I’m going to name my new layer “shadows”, as circled in red above, and then click OK. Photoshop adds my new blank “shadows” layer above my Background layer:

The new shadows layer in the Layers palette
The Layers palette now showing the new “shadows” layer above the Background layer.

Step 2: Select Both Eyes With The Lasso Tool

Grab the Lasso tool from the Tools palette or press L on the keyboard, and then draw a selection around one of the eyes. When you’re done, hold down Shift to add to the initial selection and select the second eye as well. Holding Shift tells Photoshop not to throw away the selection around the first eye when you begin selecting the second one:

Select both eyes with the Lasso tool
Select both eyes with the Lasso tool.

Step 3: Paint With Black Along The Top Edge Of Both Eyes

We’re going to add shadows to the tops of the eyes. Make sure the “shadow” layer is selected in the Layers palette, then grab the Brush tool from the Tools palette or press B on the keyboard to select it. Use a fairly large, soft-edged brush, somewhere around 40-50 pixels depending on the size of your image, and paint along the top edge of both eyes to add a shadow. Don’t worry about painting above the eye by mistake because the black will only appear inside the selection we created:

Selct both eyes with the Lasso tool
Use a large soft-edged brush to paint with black along the top of each eye to add a shadow.

Step 4: Change The Blend Mode To “Multiply” And Lower The Opacity

With the shadows painted, change the blend mode of the “shadows” layer from “Normal” to Multiply and lower the opacity of the layer to around 40%:

Change the blend mode to Multiply and lower the opacity
Change the blend mode of the “shadows” layer to “Multiply” and lower the opacity to 40%.

We don’t need to have the eyes selected anymore, so press Ctrl+D (Win) / Command+D (Mac) to deselect them.

Step 5: Select The Iris In Both Eyes

Grab the Elliptical Marquee Tool from the Tools palette and drag out a selection around each iris, making sure again to hold down the Shift key when you go to select the second one so you don’t lose your selection around the first one:

Select each iris with the Elliptical Marquee tool
Select each iris with the Elliptical Marquee tool.

You’ll probably end up selecting parts of the area above and below the eyes as well as I have here, so switch back to the Lasso tool, hold down Alt (Win) / Option (Mac), which is the keyboard shortcut for accessing the “Subtract From Selection” option, and drag around each area above and below the eyes that you didn’t want to select. Each time you release the mouse button, that part of the selection will disappear. When you’re done, you’ll be left with just the area around each iris selected:

Subtract the excess area from the selection with the Lasso tool
Subtract the excess area from the selection with the Lasso tool.

Step 6: Copy The Iris In Both Eyes To A New Layer

We need to copy the iris in both eyes to a new layer, so first, let’s soften our selection a little bit by going up to the Select menu at the top of the screen and choosing Feather, which brings up the Feather dialog box. Enter a value of about 5 pixels and then press OK:

Feather the selection to soften the edges
Feather the selection to soften the edges.

Next, click on the Background layer in the Layers palette to select it. Then use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+J (Win) / Command+Option+J (Mac) to copy the selection onto a new layer above the Background layer. When the New Layer dialog box appears, rename the layer “dodge”, since we’ll be using the Dodge tool on this layer in a moment. Your Layers palette should now look similar to this:

The Layers palette now showing the dodge layer above the Background layer
The Layers palette now showing the “dodge” layer between the Background and “shadow” layers.

Step 7: Apply The Unsharp Mask Filter To The Dodge Layer

Before we use the Dodge tool, we’re going to apply the Unsharp Mask filter. With the “dodge” layer selected, go up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen, select Sharpen, and then select Unsharp Mask. When the Unsharp Mask dialog box appears, enter an Amount of 500%, a Radius value of 2 pixels, and a Threshold value of 4 levels:

Apply the Unsharp Mask filter
Applying the “Unsharp Mask” filter.

Step 8: Lower The Opacity Of The “Dodge” Layer To 50%

The sharpening is too strong at this point, so lower the opacity of the “dodge” layer to 50%:

Lower the opacity to reduce the sharpening amount
Lower the opacity to reduce the sharpening amount.

Here’s our image after applying the Unsharp Mask filter and lowering the opacity to 50%:

The image so far
The image so far.

Step 9: Add A Highlight In The Lower Right Of Each Iris With The Dodge Tool

Now we’re going to use the Dodge tool, and we’re going to use it to add a highlight to the lower right of each iris. Grab the Dodge tool from the Tools palette or press O on the keyboard to quickly select it. With the Dodge tool selected, look up in the Options Bar at the top of the screen and make sure that Range is set to Highlights and Exposure is set to 50%:

The Options Bar for the Dodge tool
The options for the Dodge tool in the Options Bar.

Then, with a smaller soft-edged brush of around 10 pixels (again it will depend on the size of your image), paint a few strokes over the area in the bottom right of each iris. Each stroke you paint will increase the amount of lightening in that area, and it’s easy to overdo it with the Dodge tool, so be careful not to go too far, especially if there already is a bit of a highlight in the image:

Add or lighten existing highlights in the bottom right of each iris with the Dodge tool
Add or lighten existing highlights in the bottom right of each iris with the Dodge tool.

Step 10: Add A New Blank Layer Above The “Dodge” Layer

Make sure the “dodge” layer is selected in the Layers palette, hold down Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) and click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. When the New Layer dialog box appears, name the new layer “left highlight”, since we’ll be using it to add a highlight to the left of each iris, and then click OK:

Add a new blank layer above the dodge layer
Add a new blank layer above the “dodge” layer and name it “left highlight”.

Step 11: Add A Highlight Along The Left Side Of Each Iris

We’re going to add a highlight to the left side of each iris this time. First, make sure the “left highlight” layer is selected in the Layers palette. Then set white as your foreground color if it isn’t already by first pressing D and then pressing X. Then once again using a soft-edged brush at a size roughly the same as what you used a moment ago for the Dodge tool, paint a white highlight on the left side of each iris. It will look completely fake at first:

Paint with white in the left of each iris to add a highlight
Paint with white on the left side of each iris to add a highlight. We’ll fix the look of it in the next step.

Doesn’t exactly look realistic just yet, but we’ll fix that in the next step.

Step 12: Change The Blend Mode Of The “Left Highlight” Layer to “Overlay”

With the “left highlight” layer selected, go up to the blend mode option in the top left of the Layers palette and change the blend mode from “Normal” to Overlay:

Changing the blend mode to Overlay
Change the blend mode for the “left highlight” layer to “Overlay”.

Now things are looking better:

The image with both highlights added in the eyes
The image with both highlights added in the eyes.

Step 13: Add A New Blank Layer Above The “Left Highlight” Layer

We’re going to add one more new blank layer, this time above the “left highlight” layer. So with the “left highlight” layer selected, let’s use the keyboard shortcut this time, Ctrl+Shift+N (Win) / Command+Shift+N (Mac) to bring up the New Layer dialog box, and this time, name the new layer “makeup”. Click OK to add the new layer:

Add another new blank layer and name it makeup
Add a final new blank layer and name it “makeup”.

Step 14: Sample A Darker Color From Around The Eyes

Grab the Eyedropper tool from the Tools palette or press I to quickly select it, then click on an area in the shadows around the eyes that is darker than the person’s natural skin tone. Don’t select anything black, we just want a darker color. We’re going to use this color for some makeup:

Sample a color from around the eyes
Sample a color from around the eyes that’s slightly darker than the skin tone.

Step 15: Paint With The Sampled Color Around And Above The Eyes To Add Makeup

Switch back to the Brush tool and paint areas around and above the eyes with the color your sampled to add some makeup. It won’t look very good just yet but that’s okay:

Paint with your sampled color around and above the eyes
Paint with your sampled color around and above the eyes.

And there we go, we’re done!

Just kidding.

Step 16: Apply The Gaussian Blur Filter To The “Makeup” Layer

Let’s smooth out the makeup first, and we’ll do that with the Gaussian Blur filter. Go back up to the Filter menu, select Blur and then select Gaussian Blur. When the Gaussian Blur dialog box pops up, set the Radius value at the bottom to around 10 pixels, and then click OK:

Apply the Gaussian Blur filter to smooth out the makeup
Use the Gaussian Blur filter to smooth out the makeup.

Step 17: Change The Blend Mode Of The “Makeup” Layer To “Soft Light”

Let’s get that makeup looking a whole lot better by changing the blend mode. With the “makeup” layer selected, go back up to the blend mode options in the top left of the Layers palette and change its blend mode from “Normal” to Soft Light:

Change the blend mode to Soft Light
Change the blend mode of the “makeup” layer to “Soft Light”.

Step 18: Clean Up Any Problems With The Makeup

All that’s left to do at this point is clean up any rough spots with the makeup. To do that, grab the Eraser tool from the Tools palette or by pressing E on your keyboard, and with the “makeup” layer selected and the Eraser tool set to a soft-edged brush, simply go around and erase any unwanted areas:

Clean up the makeup with the Erasor tool
Use the Eraser tool to clean up any unwanted areas in the makeup.

Once you’ve cleaned up the makeup, you’re done!

Here, for the sake of comparison, is the image we started with:

The original image once again
The original image.

And here is our final “fashion retouched” result:

The original image once again
The final result.

And there we have it!

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