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Another way to enhance a portrait is to brighten the subject's eyes. Not only will it draw attention to the eyes, but it will also make them appear more awake or alert in the photograph. So let's zoom in using the Spacebar and the Cmd key on Mac or the Ctrl key on Windows, I'll just click-and-drag to the right in order to zoom in on the eye area. Now we're going to do this in two steps. First we're going to brighten the whites of the eyes and then we're going to create a new layer in order to dodge and burn the actual eye itself, to add a little contrast and give it a little bit more dimension.
So let's use the Lasso tool and just select the whites of the eyes. Remember now, when you're using the Lasso tool, it's the very tip of that black arrow that is your hotspot. And once you've made your first selection, in order to add to that selection, you can either hold down the Shift key or you can click on the second icon here in the Options Bar. That way you won't need to hold down a keyboard modifier and you can simply click-and-drag in order to select that area.
Of course, there's different ways that you can select this area. You could try using the Magic Wand tool or the Quick Select tool. But I find that most of the time it's just easier to click-and-drag in that area with the Lasso tool. If you make a mistake, just click-and-drag to add to that area. Of course, if you drag out too far and you need to subtract from your selection, then you can select the third icon here, and just click-and-drag over the area that you want to subtract. You can also remain with the Add To Selection tool and just hold down the Opt or the Alt key to switch or toggle temporarily to the Subtract From.
Now that we've got the area selected on our Adjustments panel, let's click the Curves Adjustment. I'll position my cursor in the middle of the curve and simply drag up. And you can see if you drag up too far, obviously, the area is going to get way too bright, so just drag up too far and then back off a little bit. You might also notice that the edges of your selection are a little bit too sharp. So while we're on the Properties panel, let's click on the Masks icon and then add a small Feather to that selection.
That will just soften those edges so we can't tell the area that has been adjusted versus the area that has not. And then to check to make sure that we haven't over-retouched, let's use the Eye icon on the Layers panel and just toggle that on and off before and after. We can even zoom out using Command+0 to go back to 100% and then just toggle that on and off. If you think you've made too much of an adjustment, you can either change the Opacity of the layer or click on the Curve icon to bring up the Properties panel.
In this case, I'll just decrease the Opacity of the layer, down to about 65 and toggle before and after. So that's the first step. The second thing we need to do is we need to dodge and burn around the iris and the pupil. So I'm going to add another New layer, but before clicking on the New layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, I'm going to hold down the Option key. When you hold down the Option or the Alt key on Windows and you click, you get the New layer dialog. That's going to allow me to change the Blend mode to Overlay and also choose to Fill with Overlay-neutral color or 50% gray.
When I click OK, we'll see Layer 1, which we can then rename to dodge and burn. While we're over here, let's go ahead and rename the Curves layer as well. We'll call that eyes. We'll zoom in again using the Spacebar and the Cmd or Ctrl key, clicking-and-dragging to the right to zoom into the eye area. The reason that we made this dodge and burn layer is because I want it to be very flexible.
A lot of times I find that when I'm dodging and burning the iris, I actually tend to overdo it. When I'm zoomed in, I can't tell that I'm overdoing it, but when I zoom back out and I see the overall portrait, I tend to take this portion of the retouching too far. Although I'm calling this dodge and burn, we're actually not going to use the Dodge and Burn tool. Instead, I'm going to switch to the Paintbrush. And you can see that the Opacity is set up to 100% right now, which means if I paint with black or white on this layer, it's going to make a huge difference.
In fact, let's go ahead and just I'll show you what I mean by painting with black. It's just going to make it look terrible. So let's undo that, Cmd+Z or Ctrl+Z, and let's change the Opacity way, way down to maybe like 20%. Then the first thing I want to do is I want to dodge the iris. So I'm going to tap the D key to make sure I have my default colors and then I'll tap the X key in order to exchange those, so that I'm painting with white. And now with my Opacity set very low, I'm going to just click-and-drag around the iris area, and then I can go ahead and do that one more time.
If I need to change the size of my brush, I can use the Right Bracket (]) to get a larger brush, or the Left Bracket ([) to get a smaller brush. But now when we show our before and after by clicking on the Eye icon in the Layers panel, we see before and after. So with just those two small strokes set at 20% I've really made quite a difference here. I've really brightened up that eye and added some contrast. So let's do the same to the other eye. I'll click-and-drag around, maybe get a little bit larger of a brush for the second stroke, and paint around that eye.
Again, toggling the Eye icon, we see before and after. Now I want to darken down around the edge of the iris. So I'll tap the X key in order to exchange my foreground and background colors so that now I'm painting with black, and I'll get a very small brush and then click-and-drag around the outside edge of the eye. I'll do the same on the left-hand side, and then we can toggle that on and off. There's before and after. So you can see, I've really made way too heavy of an edit here, and in fact, let's zoom all the way out, using Cmd+0 to zoom back.
And if we toggle that on and off, see it's just far too strong. But the advantage of using this dodge and burn layer is that now I can take the Opacity slider and scoot that way down to maybe say 30% and toggle that on and off and you can see how I've just brightened the eyes just a little bit in order to draw your attention there, as well as make the person in the portrait look more alert and awake. If you wanted to, you could do your painting of white on one layer and your painting of black on another layer, if you wanted to control those individually, or you could even do one eye on one layer and one eye on another.
It just really depends on how much flexibility you want.
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