Join John Derry for an in-depth discussion in this video Painting a child's eyes, part of Digital Painting: Transforming a Portrait.
In general the rendition of eyes across subjects of different ages utilizes the same technique. It is the surrounding eyelids and facial muscles that largely contribute to the particular expressive qualities of a specific subject. In this video we'll paint the daughter's eyes and focus on the particulars of imbuing our young subject with personality. Let's zoom up here at least 100% probably 200% I think. Sounds good. So we've got the eyes here and I always typically add a new layer here to work on this.
You're doing something enough different you want to have a little bit of backup so working on a separate layer is a good thing. And the first thing I'm going to do is paint the pupils. And I don't paint them black, but I get pretty close to black. So I'm just going to take it up about five points above solid black is good. And I'm just going to go in here and I want to make sure that my just add water brush Is set to 100%. I'm going to go in here and I'm just going to paint in the pupils.
Now, you can't see 'em because of all of the reflections, but they have to be in the center of the eye and she's outside, so she's not going to have really large pupils. So, let's just duplicate that basically over here trying to get as closely as possible to the same size. I might go a little larger. A lot of times The pupal is kind of one third of the total width so these could be a little bigger. And the fact that were not, you know, using a tool to make a perfectly circular eye is part of why, you know, this a painting so this should be hand done.
Now, once I've done that, this is a little trick that I like to use in here. This is a three-dimensional spherical glassy object, and even the pupils, I want to feel like this is a spherical glassy object. So I'm going to turn up my black to a gray, and I'm just going to paint. This little kind of crescent at the bottom here, this just sort of is an indicator of it's reflecting the environment around it. Next, we're going to deal with the actual eye itself and I'm going to go back down here temporarily to around five or so.
And I'm going to paint this black edge of the eye. And not all eyes have this but most people do, it's just kind of a darker edge. And by emphasizing it a bit, we're adding that contrast to the eye. That makes 'em more, something that the eye wants to focus in. So the eye wants to focus in on an eye. And this girl looks like she's got some dark brown eyes. So I'm going to grab this color. Let's just take a look. Yeah, it's in the brown range. But I want to give more emphasis to it. So I'm going to turn up the saturation.
Might turn up the value a little bit. See now we're getting into a brown, might turn it down just a little bit. And, then we're going to go in here and I'm just going to fill this in, just between the two. You could do this first and then paint the pupil over it, there's no hard and fast rule. Which way to do this, but this is just kind of how I do it. Let's get this one. You may want to do some of these on separate layers, you know, if you're starting it for the first time. Breaking this up into layers sometimes gives you little bit more safety net.
'Kay. Now. Here's the thing, eyes are not one color, they're multiple colors. And so I'm going to just move this over a bit. And I'm going to turn up the value a little bit. There, it's just starting to almost look green. If you look, though, it's actually way over in orange. But that starts to look somewhat green. And so we're going to just go in here and start to put a few variations. In here, and right now they just look like doll eyes, and they're not going to stay that way.
But, I just want to get something going on in here to begin with. And I might even take it a little more into green, and I'm just kind of you know, putting them in there as flecks. Okay, so that's just going to add to the real eyes, because real eyes definitely have a bunch of different colors in it. If you just Google a closeup of eyes, you'll be amazed at really what's going on on the surface of the pupil. Okay, now, we want to put a highlight in here, but, before I do, I'm going to go ahead and turn re-saturation down.
And I'm just going to kind of smudge this up just a little bit. And what we want to do next is we're going to add a highlight, or a catch light as it's called. And for that I'm not going to go all the way to 100%. Once again I'm, I'm just using my slider here, and we're you know 255 is the full color. So, I'm, I'm going to stay down below that a little bit. But I'm going to make this a little larger. Now, I'm using my mouse. Whenever I do a lot of these little pings or highlights, as I call 'em.
I, I want to check out, you know, how it's going to work. And we need to turn resaturation up. See, now that is too bright. So I'm going to turn my opacity down. Let's take it down more, like, to 20% or so. Now I can hit this, see and it, it's subtle and it's at that two o'clock position. I always either do it two o'clock or the ten o'clock, and that's just in painting that's been, it's not a rule but it's just something people use. And as I do one side, I want to do the other because I want the two catch light to be almost identical.
So, now I'm going to enlarge this a little bit, hit it again, go back here. And each time I do one I want to do the other. See, I can even make this a little larger. because we want to get this glassy feeling that this is kind of over a larger area, which is on that spherical surface. And now I'm going to take it down smaller and I'm just going to put the brightest part of the highlight in each one. So I'm keeping track of basically how many clicks I'm doing and what-not. But now that gives the eye kind of that nice highlight.
Now here's the other thing When light enters a spehrical object think of this as a sphere. It's really like a half sphere, but when light gets in there it's refracted within the internal area of the glassy surface and it hits over here and it actually kind of lights this up. And the, actual pupil itself, will iridesse a bit. It's not just light hitting it. It actually kind of has a little bit of iridescence in it. And so, what I want do here, is I'm going to grab one of the lighter browns there. And I'm goinna turn it up a bit, and I'm going to add yet more saturation.
And I, I know from experience, that's kind of light, so I'm going to turn it down just a little bit. Maybe a little more saturation. And once again I want to make sure that I've got low opacity going on now. This is where I'm going to go in here. And I'm just going to start to put in a few. Usually I do like four or five of these. It's as if parts of the pupil are getting lit up by this light that's kind of coming across. And because it's iridescent, the increased saturation will help this. And I'm going to go ahead. And I'm going to turn it up some more.
And I'm going to turn my brush size down just a little bit. I'm going to go in here, and I'm just going to even add a little bit more. So we're just giving this illusion that, you know, something is happening over here on the other side of the eye. This little crescent. And the center ones tend to be a little longer then they kind of taper off on the other side. So that looks good. And then finally, I'm going to go back to close to white, and I'm going to enlarge my brush.
And again, I'm doing this with very low opacity. I'm going to turn it down a little bit more. And I'm just going to give that a little bit more of a brightness overall, and, okay. And in the center, if there's any more brighter area, it's right there. So I might just hit a little more brightness there. We didn't talk about the whites of the eyes yet, and I want to make sure we deal with that. So, for that, we need to turn back to a blender. And let's reduce the size over here, and I'm just going to soften this up.
Not much going on there. So, they're pretty smooth areas already, but I just like to make sure it's completely smooth out. The other thing I might do at this point is I might lighten these up just a little bit. So I'll turn this up. I'm going to grab this color. One thing that's interesting about baby's eyes is they actually tend to have a little bit of blue. In the whites of the eye. And that's because the blood vessel structure has not completely developed yet. And so as a result, there's not a lot of blood in there. And they tend to have a kind of a bluish look.
Now, I've sampled that color. I'm going to turn it up a little bit. And if I'm going to lighten it anywhere, it's going to be right up against the dark edge. 'Cause we're going to increase that contrast. Just by a bit. See I'm just kind of tapering it off now. So it's brighter there and it gets a little less brighter. On both sides. So what we're doing at this point is we're increasing the contrast, the apparent contrast between the dark, black edge of the eye and the sclera. Which is what the name for the whites of the eye is.
Right up against it. Now here's the last thing I do, and this does involve a little bit of blue. I'll usually get kind of like a sky blue that's mostly white, and I'm going to enlarge my brush size here just a bit. And what I'm doing here is because this spherical, glassy object is reflecting the environment it's in. Typically, you know, there's a lot of blue sky light out here. It's very subtle, but I just put a couple washes of that blue across the bottom of the eye.
And then, that's basically it for the eye, the eye pupil itself. Next, we have to deal now with the surrounding area. But that's your basic technique for eyes, and if we kind of back this out you can see, let's turn it on and off. That's reality, but all those reflections, they're distracting. Whereas here, we've made eyes that boom. They're absolutely eyes, and they're looking at us. (LAUGH)
These techniques work with subjects of any age or skin tone, and are perfect for memorializing moments a photo can't quite do justice to.
- Building the image nondestructively
- Extending the edges of your image for gallery wraps
- Removing distractions
- Handling patterns
- Making preliminary tonal adjustments
- Blending skin
- Adding lighting
- Using vignetting to focus on the subjects