Action FlashBack: CoffeeShop Eye Bright!

I have well over 200 free actions posted here on my blog, and some of my favorite ones are the retouching ones.  I wrote CoffeeShop Eye Bright in March 2009, but I honestly haven't seen any reason to update it.  I realize I just had a short tutorial on the original post, so I decided to revisit Eye Bright and how to use it.  If you don't have CoffeeShop Eye Bright yet, just click here to download it and then follow the tutorial in this post.

You must understand how to use layer masks to use this action, so please go read my Layer Mask tutorial and if you have PSE8 or below you might want to download my free layer mask action.  You don't need to add your own layer masks to use this action (they are built in), but once you start using layer masks you won't want to stop.

Remember, this is the way I usually edit using this action, but you might find a way that you think works better!

1. Open your image and run CoffeeShop Eye Bright.
You will have four layers but your image will be unchanged.  I have so many people email me and ask why there is no change on their image after they run this action.  This action needs user input to get stunning and realistic results.

The Eye Define layer mask is already selected.  Black masks "mask" any change.

2.  Zoom in the eyes.

3.  Click "B" to select your brush, then "D" for default black foreground and white background, and then "X" to make your foreground color white.  Your brush has to be white to edit all of these layers!  Make your brush soft, make sure it is in normal mode, and put the opacity at 100% for this step.

4.  I like to make it easy to see where I am editing, so I click Alt-Shift while clicking on my black layer mask in the Eye Define layer.   Now my entire image is red, which allows me to see where I am painting in the image.  You can also click on the backslash \ key to get the same effect.

5.  Now I take my brush which I adjusted in Step 3 and paint over the iris in each eye.  Wherever I paint on the image I remove the red, which means I am defining that part of the eye.  If you go over the whites, just click "X" to make your brush black and repaint over the part you want to remove.

6.  Then I usually bring the opacity down to 50% or so and paint over the eyelashes and eyebrows.  Make sure you don't paint on the edges of the bottom of the eye just above the bottom eye lashes.  This can make the eyes look really odd.  And remember, as long as you are holding your mouse down when you paint, the opacity will continue to be 50% even if you repaint over an area.

7.  Shift-Alt to remove the red mask and then click on the White Whites' black layer mask.  Click Shift-Alt to turn on the red mask again.  Then make sure your brush is white and set to around 50% and paint over the whites of the eye.  Be careful to not paint on the black part of the iris or the skin around the eye.  You can see below I painted over the bottom part of the iris, so I changed to a black brush and painted the iris out.

Shift-Alt to remove the red mask when you are done.

8.  Click on the Bright Eyes layer.  Use a white brush at 100% opacity to paint over the color parts of the eye.  Make sure to avoid any areas that are black.

9.  Now, this is probably the most important part of the eye editing process.  We have all seen retouching gone wild in photography, where children or adults look like plastic space aliens...  So be sure to zoom out and examine your eyes and make sure they look normal.  In this case, I think we need to do some final adjustments.

10. I usually don't do anything to the Eye Define layer, but I always bring down the opacity of the Bright Eyes and White Whites layers.  You can see my final setting below.

11.  I still think the eyes are a bit overdone, but I could go back and play with the settings again.  This simple little action can really enhance the eyes in your portraits.

If you want to do a complete retouching job with these Eye Bright and auto skin smoothing, etc., please go download my free CoffeeShop Perfect Portrait 3 action.  I have so many other retouching actions, and you can find them all on this page (go down a bit) or download my most popular ones in one simple download and help support this blog here.

I also have a new action coming out that has Eye Bright and the auto skin smoothing from Perfect Portrait 3.  Once I figure out a name I will post it here.  I posted a sample before/after below, and that edit took maybe 2 minutes.  This action is perfect to use on an already edited portrait that just needs some simple retouching.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


Fran September 1, 2011 at 4:52 PM  

Thanks Rita - this is an action of yours I use ALL the time, yet I still learnt a couple of things from this post!

MaryJanes and Galoshes September 1, 2011 at 5:00 PM  

THAN YOU soooo much for reposting this today! I've been using the eye bright for a LONG time, but had never used it properly. Today I decided to actually follow your directions and it works SO much better (who'd have figured LOL). I was having such an issue with brown eyes being to dark, you have changed my life :)

Jean September 1, 2011 at 5:10 PM  

Wow! That is amazing! Thanks for sharing! I'll have to use it soon!

Skye September 1, 2011 at 9:26 PM I love it. Thank you so much for sharing. I have been trying to find something like this to give my daughters eyes a boost other than what I was already doing with dodge & burn. Wow! Awesome!! :)

Pink Velvet September 2, 2011 at 3:35 PM  

Hi Rita,
thanks for the tutorial. I tried to follow your instruction but do you know why when I clicked Alt-Shift while clicking on black layer mask in the Eye Define layer, there was no red mask appearing on my image? is it something to do with my keyboard? i tried different keyboard and still not working. Any helps would be great.

Fran September 4, 2011 at 7:19 AM  

Pink Velvet - double click the black mask, and you should have the option of changing the colour - pick red, and adjust opacity to about 30% - should then work!

Tara September 17, 2011 at 7:28 AM  

Alt + shift didn't work for me either, nor did double clicking the black mask. Any other ideas? Using PSE6.

Mel October 3, 2011 at 1:25 PM  

The alt shift isn't working for me either! I can double click on the black layer mask and I have the option of choosing a color and opacity but when I click ok nothing happens. I'm using CS5 on a mac.

Anonymous November 14, 2011 at 3:26 PM  

When I'm in the eye define trying to use the brush on the eyes nothing happens. If I switch the brush to black however it does work.
Ever encounter anything like this?

Rita November 14, 2011 at 4:10 PM  

Make sure your brush is in normal mode. :-)

Kat November 21, 2011 at 5:58 PM  

Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm hoping someone can help with error messages I keep getting when I load this action: "Command 'Fill' is not currently available."

Any help would be much appreciated.
Thanks again!

Rita November 21, 2011 at 6:15 PM  

Make sure you are starting on a flattened sRGB 8 bit image. :-) Rita

Leigh - Sakurako January 26, 2012 at 6:30 AM  

In PS CS5 for Mac the keyboard shortcut to get the red mask thing to toggle on and off is \

Anonymous February 9, 2012 at 10:08 PM  

I cannot for the life of me get the Alt+Shift to give me the red overlay either. I have literally went back and forth between your screen shots 20+ times and every setting is EXACTLY the same... I dbl clicked and chose red at 30% opacity... went back, Alt+Shift, still NOTHING! :( Super bummed. Can someone email me a solution- I'm on a PC, not a Mac BTW.

Michele March 10, 2012 at 8:00 AM  

Alt-Shift doesn't work for me either! AH!

Ciara Semons April 12, 2012 at 3:52 PM  

I have been looking EVERYWHERE for something as wonderful as this action. Thank you so much for posting so many free actions on your blog! I am just learning photography and it is so expensive to start. I really do appreciate you a whole lot. When I make it big in the future(haha), I will make a lovely contribution to further your wonderful efforts!

Kaycee May 13, 2012 at 7:35 PM  

Alt+Shift did not work for me either. You can also just click the button to toggle between Standard and Quick Mask Modes instead of using the Alt+Shift keyboard shortcut. It is the button at the very bottom of the toolbar beneath the foreground and background color selectors. It looks like a rectangle with a circle in it. Toggling between the two modes should switch the button from gray to red.

Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 6:34 PM  

My brush is in normal mode and it isn't working!

abbylea3 May 29, 2012 at 11:48 AM  

When I use this on my husband's green eyes it turns them a yellow glowing color, what am I doing wrong, it does it during the bright eyes phase of the editing!

Anonymous July 13, 2012 at 2:03 PM  

I can get to the red, but when I start painting nothing happens. My brush is in normal mode. What am I doing wrong?

Anonymous August 8, 2012 at 7:37 AM  

I am trying my hardest with these directions but I am just not getting anywhere and after reading all the comments, I see that there's no response from the blog how do I actually get help with these steps. Blog author - please help!!

Rita August 8, 2012 at 7:52 AM  

It sounds like some of you are having issues with layer masks. I have a few tutorials, click on Tutorials on top of my blog and page down until you find the layer mask ones. :-)

Also make sure your photo is flattened (and says background) and an 8 bit jpg and that your brush is in normal mode and the normal brush and not some of the other brushes. Rita

Christi September 20, 2012 at 3:11 PM  

will this action work on brown eyes? Every time I try an eye bright action it looks awful. I don't have many light eyed people to photograph and tutorials always show blue eyes in the example. Can you show me how this action looks with brown eyes? Thank you!!

Natali February 21, 2013 at 12:35 PM  

Everything seems to work fine until I use the eye bright action and then it just paints the eyes white. I verified that it was a soft brush set at normal and opacity at 100. What might be the problem? I'm using Photoshop CS4 on a Mac.

Tearsa May 15, 2013 at 3:08 PM  

I was having trouble getting the red to show up, so I read the Layer Mask Tutorial, its ALT-SHIFT-CLICK. which she tells us but I wasn't paying attention.

Anonymous August 30, 2013 at 12:59 AM  

For CS5 users (and perhaps others) you press backslash \ to see the mask as a red overlay.

Will October 26, 2013 at 3:40 PM  

Brilliant - thank you!

Shannon Brintnall November 27, 2013 at 6:54 PM  

I'm new to Photoshop and photo editing. I have CS6 and I cannot get the brush tool to do anything. Is it because CS6 is different or am I completely lost?

Anonymous November 4, 2014 at 2:50 PM  

I downloaded and install just find but when I go to play the action. Pop up a message that says layer "1" is not available and then several more Pop up with # layer. Am I doing something wrong? I'm working with PSE12

The Deaners December 4, 2014 at 10:30 PM  

I am not successful in using "D" and "X" to change the colors. Can anyone help?

Rita December 6, 2014 at 9:10 AM  

Just click on the color thumbnails in your program to change the colors if the keystrokes don't work. :-)

stacy December 28, 2014 at 7:35 PM  

Thank you! I am a new photographer and was overwhelmed with PS, but your tute was really helpful! Thanks so much!

Anonymous February 19, 2015 at 7:48 PM  

AMAZING! Thank you! Greets from Germany!