Using layer masks to isolate the adjustment
I’m going to start with this picture. It’s a picture of Callen that I took in my LA studio. Using kinoflo lights for lighting, the 5DmkII was used for the photo. Open a picture of yourself that has eyes in it.

Using layer masks to isolate the adjustment
I’m going to start with this picture. It’s a picture of Callen that I took in my LA studio. Using kinoflo lights for lighting, the 5DmkII was used for the photo. Open a picture of yourself that has eyes in it.The first step is to arrange things such that when the colours are changed, only the eyes will be affected. We’ll be utilising a curves and layer mask adjustment layer. The masks that are included with all adjustment layers will isolate the adjustment. Go ahead.

Click on the small button that resembles a half-filled circle in the middle of the Layers panel’s bottom to open adjustment layers. As soon as you click the button, a pop-up will appear. Pick Curves.

It will say Curves 1 when you look at that adjustment in the Layers Panel. There are two components: a white rectangle and the adjustment (the grid with the S-shaped object). To edit adjustment layer settings (curves), click the curve icon. To deal with masks, click the rectangle.

If you are using CC, open the Properties panel; if you are using an older version, open the Adjustments panel.
(Double-clicking the curves icon also works).

Take hold of curve (1) and move it up to the upper left by dragging it diagonally. We are merely temporarily changing our approach in order to better understand what we are doing as we work.

(2) Click the mask. To flip the mask, press Cmd/Ctrl+I. Now, the curves adjustment ought to be concealed.

Only the eyes should show the modification. Check to see if the mask is on. White will be used as the primary colour so that the adjustment can be seen. (And limit it to the eyes only).

Pick a rounded brush. The hardness should be 100%. Make the size equal to the size of the eyes. (to change the brush size, hit the [or] keys)

To paint that portion of the mask, click in the eye on the image. Given that I have altered the curve all the way to the top left in this instance, it appears as pure white. (It doesn’t matter if yours doesn’t display pure white. It serves only as a visual cue for us to see where the mask was painted.)

Blacken the brush’s colour.

In order to merely paint the shape of the eyes, paint over the portions of the eyes that overlap the eyelids.

To open the Masks in the Properties panel (Mask panel in CS4-CS6), double-click the mask.

To soften the edge of the mask, move the feather slider.

(To accomplish the same task in versions prior to CS4, select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur.)

Click the reset button in the curves panel (looks like a circular arrow at the bottom of the panel)

We have now set the masks up. Everything is set up so that only the eyes will be affected when we make changes, (don’t you love masks) We have also reset the curves to default, so that there is no changes to the image right now.

Here is when the fun really starts.

Curves’ colour channels will be used by us to implement our colour alterations. This is by far the finest method for modifying images in Photoshop.

Because you can’t manage the tones and it also changes the secondary colours, using a brush in colour mode isn’t really effective.

Click the RGB option in the top dropdown menu of the curves panel. Select green

To adjust the curve higher, click on the diagonal line and DO IT CAREFULLY. A little bit is often enough. You’ll see that we can make the eyes green. Notice how the eye still has its secondary colours, giving it a realistic appearance. (Stick with me, keep going if you started with a different colour eye and it doesn’t look quite right.)

Let’s try a different color, (Use a new adjustment layer, or reset the curve)

To change the color to blue, choose the blue channel and move it up until it looks right to you

The composite channel can also be modified. This modifies the level of brightness or darkness. What channel is that? It’s been used before. Choose the RGB from the dropdown menu.

Let’s examine changing the tone curve for the colour blue. The lack of it prevents us from getting the precise eye colour we want. To make the curve darker and more like Liv Tyler’s eyes’ lovely deep blue, lower it.

You can also drag the curve up to brighten the eyes. In this case we have a more common lighter blue.


We went to make the eye look brown. There is no brown channel! What to do?

We can make adjustment s to more than one channel (in fact it’s often best to adjust more than one channel to dial in the exact color that you want)

In this case, I increased the red and dropped the blue. It’s looking better, but still not right, let’s do another thing.

In this case I made it darker by dragging the curve down. (Better, but still not perfect for brown, stick with me, we will get there)

(I also have a tutorial here for you to watch for a curves primer if you need it)

Ok, I did promise you, realistic brown eyes didn’t I.

You can stack more than one curve layer together, I combined the half-assed brown from earlier on with the Green adjustment and bingo, now we have a nice Natalie Portman deep brown.

Now my hope is that you are soaking this up and grabbing the idea. The same principles I have just shown you will enable you to turn any eye color into any color you want.  To prove it, I have turned Callen’s eyes into freshly fed vampires eyes.

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