Sharpen Eyes With PSE9
And Later

In this Photoshop Elements tutorial we will use a technique to sharpen eyes with PSE9 and later. It's actually quicker now with Layer Masks. If you're using a version of Photoshop Elements before version 9, follow this tutorial:

Sharpen Eyes With PSE8 And Older

Let's get started.

Open an image you want to sharpen the eyes on.

Duplicate the background and run Unsharp Mask.

Let's duplicate the Background layer so that the Background stays intact in case we screw up and need to go back to the beginning. Press Control (Mac:Command) J to make a duplicate layer to work on.

Go up to the Enhance menu and choose Unsharp Mask…. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but it's what we want to use to sharpen eyes with.

The Unsharp Mask dialog box will open. This is where we break the "be subtle when sharpening" rule.

In the Amount field enter 200. This is more than double what you normally use when doing standard sharpening. But we want those eyes to really shine. For Radius enter 1.5. And for Threshold enter 3.

At this point your whole image will look overly sharpened. But go ahead and press OK.

Create a Layer Mask to just reveal the sharpened eyes.

This sharpened our whole image. That amount is too harsh for overall sharpening. But it gave us the effect we want for the eyes. So we're going to use a Layer Mask to hide everything but the eyes.

Go to the Layers Panel and click on the Add Layer Mask icon. It's the circle inside of a square icon.

Right now our Layer Mask is white so it reveals Layer 1. Now let's turn it black so that it conceals Layer 1.

Press the letter D on your keyboard to make sure the Foreground/Background colors are the Default black and white. The Foreground/Background colors are represented by the two squares at the bottom of the Toolbox.

In the Layers Panel, click directly on the Layer Mask of Layer 1 to make it active. You can tell when it's active because it will have a white and black border around it. Make sure your Foreground color is set to black (it's the top square under the Toolbox). If you're on a PC hold the Alt key and press Backspace. If you're on a Mac hold the Option key and press Delete. That will fill your Layer Mask with the Foreground color (black) to conceal Layer 1.

Paint white on the Layer Mask.

For this step we will reveal the Unsharp Mask effect on Layer 1 by painting with white just over the eyes.

First we need to change our Foreground color from black to white. A quick keyboard shortcut to switch the Foreground and Background colors is to press the letter X.

Now that the Foreground color is set to white, select the Brush tool by clicking on it in the Toolbox.

Up in the Options bar click on the tiny arrow to show the Brush Defaults. Choose a soft-edged brush. Size your Brush by pressing the right or left bracket keys until it's a little smaller than the iris of the eye.

Now paint over the iris and pupil of both eyes to reveal the sharpened effect.

Here's a look at the before and after:

That wraps up this Photoshop Elements tutorial on how to sharpen eyes with PSE9 and later.

Until next time,

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