Sharpen Eyes And
See Them Sparkle

In this Photoshop Elements tutorial we will use a technique to sharpen eyes that really puts a glint in your subjects eyes.

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 palette and click on the Create adjustment layer icon. It's the half white/half black circle. Choose Levels.

We aren't really going to make a Levels move. We just want to use the Layer Mask that comes with it. So when the Levels dialog box opens don't make any change in it. just click OK to close it and create a new Layer at the top of the Layers palette.

In the Layers palette click on that new Levels layer and drag it down until you see a double bold white line between the Background layer and Layer 1. Let go of the mouse button. This will place the Levels layer below Layer 1.

Now we need to group the two Layers together so that the Level's Layer Mask acts like Layer 1's Layer Mask.

Click on Layer 1 to make it active. Go up to the Layers menu and choose Group with previous.

The Thumbnail picture in Layer 1 will move over to the right and a downward pointing arrow will appear to the left of it. This indicates that it is grouped with the Layer below it.

Now if we turn the Layer Mask on Levels 1 to black, it will hide the Unsharp Mask effect that we applied to Layer 1.

If you're new to using Layer Masks this can be a really hard concept to grasp. At least it was for me. Don't get discouraged. As you use Layer Masks more, you'll eventually understand how they work.

Start with this important concept: Black Conceals, White Reveals. OK, back to our tutorial on how to sharpen eyes.

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 palette, click directly on the Layer Mask of Levels 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). Hold the Alt (Mac:Option) key and press Backspace (Mac: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. Click on the following link for lots more tutorials. Photoshop Elements Tutorials

Until next time,

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