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by Wendi Elizabeth Martha Scarth


Change Eye Colour
Adobe Photoshop


 Change The Colour Of Irises
Suitable for Adobe Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6 & CC
Skill Level - Intermediate

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This tutorial demonstrates how to change the colour of irises. To work along, you are welcome to download the photographs I am working with HereUnzip the file and open the contents onto Photoshop’s workspace.

Understand Layers
Understand Blending Modes
Understand The Workspace And Palettes

Undo and Navigation Steps
Two ways of undoing steps are from the top menu, Edit then Step Backwards. Alternatively, click a previous snapshot in the History Palette.

Navigate (zoom in and pan) your image using the Navigator Palette,

or the Zoom Tool.

Activate The Hand Tool by tapping the Spacebar, keeping the Spacebar pressed, pan your image in the usual way.

Open your choice of Start Image onto Photoshop’s workspace. Then expand your photograph’s grey workspace by clicking the Full Screen Mode with Menu Bar icon, indicated below. 

Alternatively, left-click and drag out one of your photograph’s corners.

Tip: Snap Your Image To The Top Menu’s Horizontal Bar
Another way of centralising an image is to snap it to the top (horizontal) menu-bar by dragging your image towards it: as soon as you see a blue horizontal bar, your image should automatically snap to it.

Now, from the Layers Palette, left- click the following Create a new layer icon, illustrated below-left; and a New Transparent Layer will appear above the Background Layer - as illustrated below-right.

You will be working exclusively on the Transparent Layer throughout this lesson.


It is time to isolate both eyes with a Selection Marquee, and for precision, it’s important to enlarge the area as much a possible. Therefore, from the Tools Toolbar, activate the Zoom Tool.


Then drag out a Rectangular Selection Marquee around the eye area:- this enlarges the area inside the Rectangular Selection Marquee. (Alternatively, left-click over the eyes to enlarge your image).

Zoomed In Twice

Zoom Out Tip
To Zoom out of your image: right-click anywhere over the image, and click Zoom out from the subsequent drop-down list. Keep clicking Zoom out until you are happy with the amount of zoom.

(Remember, you can navigate around your image using the Navigator Palette, top menu, Window then click a tick before Navigator).

Now, from the left-side Tools Toolbar, activate the Polygonal Lasso Tool.

And enter the following Add to selection and Feather 2 px settings into the Tool Options Bar.

Tip - Retracing Your Steps
Whilst stretching the Lasso Line - and before the Selection Marquee has been applied: to go back one step, press either the Delete Key or the Backspace Key. Press your chosen key for however many steps you want to go back - this is for Window PC users, currently I am unfamiliar with Macs.

Cancel The Selection Marquee Tip
To cancel the Selection Marquee whilst applying it: press your Keyboard’s ESC Key.

You are looking to click-and-stretch a Lasso Line around both eyes. Therefore, click and stretch a Lasso Line around the first eye, in a complete circuit. Then pass your cursor over the exact point where you began, then double-left-click - as illustrated below-left
This converts the Lasso Line into a Selection Marquee, as illustrated below-right.

                    lasso line around eye harryyyyyyyyyyyy 

Now, isolate the second eye with a Selection Marquee, in exactly the same way as you did with the first. After you have completed this both eyes will be isolated with a Selection Marquee - as illustrated below

From the Polygonal Lasso Tool’s Options Bar: click the following Subtract from selection tab. (This places a tiny subtract icon next to your cursor ).

Alternatively, press your Keyboard’s Alt Key as you apply the Selection Marquee.

Then isolate the first-pupil with a Selection Marquee, as illustrated below.

Then surround the second-pupil with a Selection Marquee.

The Selection Marquee’s purpose is to isolate just the irises: subsequently protecting the pupil and outside the eye from being effected by colour. 

Now the preparation is complete, it is time to change the eyes’ colours.

Alpha Channels Note
If you save your Selection Marquees to an Alpha Channel - (Select then Save Selection).
Then save the image as a PSD File - (File then Save As). The Selection Marquee will be saved with the file, allowing you to change the eye colour at a later date, if you so wish, by opening your saved PSD File, then Loading the Selection Marquees - (Select then Load Selection).

4/ Important
From the Layers Palette, change the
Blending Mode from Normal to Colour.

Important Note
To preserves the eye’s luminosity, it is crucial that you change the Blend Mode to Colour. If the Blend Mode remains with its default Normal setting, the following solid colour will be applied to the selected iris.

Changing the Mode to Colour changes the subsequent fill-colour to the following.

5/ Change Colour Using The Paint Bucket Tool
From the Tools Toolbar, activate the Paint Bucket Tool.

And set the Foreground Swatch to a Colour of your choice - I am selecting a vibrant Lilac.

Then enter the following settings into the Tool Options Bar.

Now, left-click inside both selected irises: and they will change to your choice of Foreground Swatch.

Remember, the Top Layer’s Blending Mode must be changed to Colour.

7/ Change Colour Using The Gradient Tool
Return your image to its pre-filled state by clicking an earlier snapshot in the History Palette. Then From the Tools Toolbar, activate the Gradient Tool.

And selecting a Gradient of your choice, enter the following settings into the Tool Options Bar.

Then left-click, and stretch a Gradient Line diagonally across the selected irises - as illustrated below.

Now, release your mouse button, and your selected irises will then be filled with your choice of Gradient - as illustrated below.

Vivid Gradient/Colour-fills are not suitable for everyone; therefore, you may prefer to select natural hazel, green, blue, or brown Colour/Gradient-fills.

Prior to Flattening the Layers, if you feel the eye-colour is too vivid, lowering the Top Layer’s Opacity will lesson the impact.

When you are completely happy with the irises’ new colour: from the top menu, choose Layer then choose Flatten Image. Then return your image to its original size by
right-clicking with the Zoom Tool.

Then, to remove the Selection Marquee: from the top menu, choose Select then choose Deselect - (Ctrl then D). 

Congratulations, your work is complete,
and is ready to save.

Blur Tool Tip
To smooth any harsh areas; first activate the Blur Tool: and setting a very low Strength, (15% for example) - carefully blend away any rough edges around the irises - as illustrated below-right.


Now you are familiar with this technique, you can have lots of fun changing the eye colour of your favourite photographs.

Wendi E M Scarth.
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