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With this character portrait that I captured recently, we are going to take a look at how we can apply a few steps in order to clean up and improve the eyes. Let's go ahead and zoom in on this picture, and when we get close, one of the things that you may notice is that there are few small little blemishes around the area of the eyes. So let's start to clean those up by using the Spot Healing brush. Let's also use that tool to deal with the red veins that we have in the eye. Because the eyes are in really great shape, we don't necessarily need to clone those all away. Rather, we will start off with the Spot Healing brush, and then we will finish it up with a little bit of some Clone Stamp work.
So here, let's create a new layer. To do that, let's just click on the New layer icon, and then we will name this clean up. Next step, press the J key to select the Healing brush. If you don't have the Healing brush selected when you press J, press Shift+J until you toggle around to see the brush, which is a Band-Aid, and a little selection icon next to it. Here you want to turn on Sample All Layers, also Content-Aware, and let's go ahead and just start to do some little clean up work. Here, I am just going to clean up, or click on, a few of the little tiny variations that I am noticing around the eyes.
Sometimes one of the best ways to clean up the eyes is just to clean up the areas around them, so that nothing is distracting or detracting our view away from the eyes. All right. Well again, just here hitting the few of these small little spots. Next up, I want to work on the eyes themselves; these little veins. So with a nice small brush, I am just going to paint over those areas, and in doing this, if we zoom in even closer, we will able to get rid of these pretty well. It won't work perfectly, but it will be a really nice start. We will go ahead and just take care of those, in this case, with the Spot Healing brush.
Sometimes we have to use Clone Stamp, sometimes we can get away without using that, as I am trying to do here, and so far it's going okay. We will need to go back, and do a little bit of cloning on top of this area, but again, I think this will be a pretty good starting point. All right, a couple more little clean up spots here; little tiny variations that I am noticing when I am zoomed in this close, and then I will zoom out. We don't necessarily need to be past 100% there, but sometimes it's helpful to see all those little tiny details, right? Well now that we have done all that, next thing I want to do is do my Clone Stamp work.
So let's create a new layer by clicking on the New layer icon, and we will just name this clean up 2. Next, press the S key to select the Clone Stamp tool, then here let's decrease our Opacity; we will take this down to about 20% or so. We want to have Align turned off, Sample All Layers, that option turned on, and then we will zoom in again. Here I will press the Right bracket key to make my brush a little bit bigger, and I am just looking to kind of soften up a little bit of these areas here. This will brighten and whiten those areas.
What we will do is we will paint this in in an amount which is a bit too high, and then we will go back, and we will soften it by decreasing the Opacity of this layer. And so, as we paint this in, if you are feeling like we are doing a bit too much, that's okay, because we can always kind of back that off after the fact. The reason why you need to back it off is not just to kind of soften the effect, but otherwise it will make the eye look like it's kind of flat, like it lost the shape, and that's not a good thing. Here we will move over to this side, Option or Alt click on that, and again, just looking to kind of smooth up some of those transitions, and shadows, and in this case, as we are doing this, what we should be seeing is that it's kind of removing those things a little bit, but also, kind of lost a little bit of the depth or dimension here of the eye.
Okay, well if we zoom out, what we'll want to do is decrease the Opacity for that, to bring back a little bit of the shape there, and now we have these two clean up layers, which have done some great work on the eyes. Those eyes look much better. That makes this character portrait, I think, stronger. Well, after we have done this basic clean up work, what I need to do next is something which is unique to people who wear glasses. Oftentimes it's tricky to focus when someone is wearing glasses, or what may happen is that the eye will appear a little bit soft, because it's behind glass, and maybe there is a slight reflection on the glass.
So often, what I like to do is to sharpen the eye that's right behind the glass, and to do that with a project like this, we need to use a shortcut, which will allow us to merge all that we have done to the top-most layer. This is a really long shortcut, but a valuable one. On a Mac, you press Shift+Option+ Command+N,E. On Windows you press Shift+Alt+Control+N,E. In doing that, that will merge your underlying layers, and it will merge those, and then create a new layer on top. And this shortcut works whether or not you are clicked into a layer which has it's visibility turned on, or off. That's why I use that full shortcut. Again, Shift+Option+Command+N,E on the Mac, or Shift+Alt+Control+N,E on Windows.
Next, let's name this top layer sharp. Here we will go ahead and navigate to our Filter pulldown menu, and choose Sharpen, and then Smart Sharpen. In the Smart Sharpen dialog, what we are going to do is select Lens Blur, and then we want to bring in an Amount and Radius which just brings some nice detail into the eye itself. We want to have a little bit more than we are comfortable with. So here, as I am looking at this on my monitor, I am thinking those settings are a bit too high, but that's exactly where we want it; just a touch overboard, because we will mask that in a moment. Click OK to apply that.
Here, I am applying the sharpening everywhere. To the skin, the hair, the eye, so that doesn't look good. So we need to mask it in just to the eye area. In order to create a mask which is filed with black, as you know, you press Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then click on your Add layer mask icon. Next step, zoom in a little bit, press the B key to select your Brush tool, paint with white, you want a brush which is really soft, no Hardness there, nice and small brush, and then for Opacity, let's bring this down somewhere below 50%.
Typically, when you are bringing this in, you want to at least go back and forth a couple of times, so by doing that, by having a lower amount, I can kind of a slowly bring this in, so I sharpen the surrounding areas just a little bit, and then I can sharpen the actual eye a bit more, so I can have a little bit more detail there. Now, in this picture, I am just going to work on the eye on the right, and then the eye on the left just a touch. This one is out of focus, because I am using this really shallow depth of field here. So in this case, I just want this side dialed in, but then if we had a different depth of field, or more depth of field, we would obviously want to sharpen both eyes.
All right; well here, I think this is looking great. It's just bringing back some nice snap to that eye there on the right side of the picture. And if we turn on and off these layers, we can see here is our before, and then now here is our after. The photograph is looking much better; I think this character portrait is a bit stronger. Here it is. I am just going to look at this zoomed out version; our before, and then now our after.
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