5 Ways to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop Elements

May 21, 2009

in Andrea Riley, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Elements

5 Ways to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop Elements - Sharpen Eyes via iHeartFaces.com

Looking to sharpen eyes and get them to pop in Photoshop Elements? There are many different ways to do this, so enjoy these five photo editing tips and actions and decide which version you like best!

Version #1:

Julie Rivera‘s Method

I don’t know if this is something Julie came up with, but I attribute it to her because she suggested it in a comment during a Constructive Feedback Friday. I LOVE this method for my daughter’s dark brown eyes. It really gives them a natural, but sharper look.

Select the eyes with the magnetic lasso and paste them into a new layer. (To select the second eye, just press shift while starting the next selection. You can let go of shift once you have started selecting.) Make sure you have the new layer selected. Go to Filter – Other – High Pass. I stick with the default that comes up (Radius – 20 pixels). After hitting okay, the eyes will look very strange. Now go and change the layer to soft light. The eyes will look really great! (Or, you can watch the video tutorial below to see exactly how to try this method.)

5 Ways to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop Elements - Sharpen Eyes via iHeartFaces.com

Version #2:

Coffeeshop Powder Room 2

This is a free action that has several layers that can be edited. It is important to note that you usually don’t want to use the layers at full strength. I usually reduce the opacity on most of the layers.

coffeeshop powder room


Version #3:

Scott Kelby


I got this method from this wonderful book. It was a very great purchase. Scott gives very simple, easy-to-follow instructions for many different photo editing techniques.

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share his instructions, so I’ll just show you the image after following his instruction and link to someone else’s directions. This results in eyes that have a sparkly (somewhat glittery) effect.

scott kelby

Version #4:

Pioneer Woman

Pioneer Woman has a great tutorial here giving her method for making eyes pop. Her tutorial is written for the full version of Photoshop, so you will want to make one change. When she says to go to Filter – Unsharp Mask, instead go to Enhance – Unsharp Mask. Everything else should be the same.

pw level adjustment 1

Version #5:

Photoblast EZ Eye Care from Polkadot Potato

This is an action that actually costs money, but it provides some nice results. As the site says: “Brighten the whites, work on your catchlights, lighten the iris and give it some ‘moon’, darken the areas you want dark, add some sharpening… This action makes it EZ (easy)!”

There are several layers that can be adjusted, making the changes you can make endless!



Here are the different results side-by-side again:

eyes copy

It is important to note that all of these effects could look totally different for you, depending on how drastically you change the eyes. It really helps to adjust all of the layers to find a natural look that will work well with your particular photo.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Tutorials section of our site yet, be sure to head on over there today to learn more about how you can improve your photography and photo editing skills!

Andrea RileyAndrea Riley is a photographer and teacher from Ohio and a proud member of the I Heart Faces Creative Team.  She and her sister Angie currently specialize in fusion high school senior photography with their company The Picture Show. When not in the role of photographer or teacher, Andrea enjoy spending time with her husband and three children and their dog.  Follow her on her blog Happy Chaos or on Twitter at @the.picture.show.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Carmen May 18, 2015

Everytime I try to create a copy my selection is gone. I’m new to Photoshop…this will be a long learning process I now see. lol


gio February 1, 2014

vai tqvens patrons


Damaris Rosario October 8, 2013

Great tutorials!!! Thank you so much for posting this.


Maria Trader October 7, 2011

thanks for posting these side by side!


Haring July 19, 2011

This is crazy! Thanks!


Diana March 31, 2011

WOW! That was easy…. and such a difference. Thanks for sharing!


emily March 31, 2011

I always use Rita’s Powder Room 2 action. It’s free, and amazing.
It’s on the coffee shop blog.


jiliene story March 30, 2011

I can’t wait to play. I select the eyes and place on a second layer, like in version one and paint them with an opaque white brush (about 30%) then blend using overlay and set layer opacity to taste. Thanks for the new ideas. I have been happy with my results, but it is nice to play.


Dana-from chaos to Grace March 30, 2011

LOVE this!! So many many MANY times I look at photos and the eyes are just OVERDONE! Thanks for this tutorial!


Cara @ Mischief and Laughs March 30, 2011

How about some selective color on eyes – that really makes them pop! (LOL totally kidding!)

Seriously though, thanks for all the examples of NATURAL looking eye pop. Nothing freaks me out more than all those zombie eyes floating around the interwebs.


Alicia @ Alicia's Homemaking February 19, 2011

Thank you for this! The youtube video was extremely helpful for me!!!! 😀 😀 😀


Rosie Alyea January 17, 2011

RT @livinglocurto: RT @iheartfaces: 5 Ways to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop Elements http://bit.ly/gW118R


Blue Cricket Design January 17, 2011

RT @livinglocurto: RT @iheartfaces: 5 Ways to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop Elements http://bit.ly/gW118R


Janine January 17, 2011

Seriously good stuff! I just tried “Version #1” and it worked like a charm! (Tried it on a person and then on a the eyes of a dog that was included in a session and it worked wonderfully on her eyes too!)

Thank you!!!


Meg :) January 17, 2011

This is fantastic! I have Photoshop Elements 5. Do actions work in 5?


Amy Locurto January 17, 2011

RT @iheartfaces: 5 Ways to Make Eyes Pop in Photoshop Elements http://bit.ly/gW118R


ingrid September 29, 2010

I love that first method. I followed along with your video yesterday and just tried another one today! Thanks!


Sue Casson Beatty September 12, 2010

Thank you for this – it has really helped me. I was kinda playing with eyes but mine sure didn’t look like this.

I really appreciate the tips – especially from someone who is so busy.

Bless you.


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