The eyes can make or break a portrait. If the eyes of your subject are sharp, it can help elevate an ordinary portrait. If the eyes lack focus, it can turn an otherwise winning shot into a portrait dud.
But what do you do if you didn’t capture sharp eyes in camera? You can try to improve the sharpness of the eyes in Photoshop, but it can be tricky. Sometimes you’ll oversharpen the eyes and your subject will look artificial and almost alien-like.
There are ways to “fake it” in Photoshop though to produce super sharp and realistic eyes in a portrait. Software pro Glyn Dewis shows you how in the below tutorial.
“It’s often said that the eyes are the window to the soul,” Dewis says.
“But it can also make or break a portrait if there’s no detail and they’re not sharp. That could be for a whole host of reasons. It could be the lens. It could be the lighting; it could be whatever. But it doesn’t have to spell disaster because here is a super-fast technique where we can fake the look of texture, detail and sharpness and really bring life back into those eyes.”
Watch below as Dewis explains his step-by-step eye-sharpening process in the 6+ minute video. As you’ll see, what’s key to the method is not simply sharpening the eyes, it’s adding detail, texture and, most importantly, what appears to be a catchlights in the iris just below the pupil. Not only does this help create the illusion of sharpness, it brings life to what were otherwise “dead” eyes in Dewis’ sample portrait image.
“Now look, if I turn this off and on, off and on, we have definitely brought the eyes back to life,” he says while showing the finished image at the end of the video. “They look sharper, there’s more detail and more texture. So, there you go, I told you it was a fast one. Of course, it doesn’t replace getting it bang on in camera, but it sure is a good one to be able to fall back on, just in case.”