How to Create Captivating Eyes and Catchlights Using Photoshop

Whether you're working in a studio with a bunch of lights or outdoors with natural light, the eyes are probably one of the most important features that can make or break any portrait. This helpful tutorial will show you how to add catchlights and make the eyes shine.

Coming to you from Unmesh Dinda of PiXimperfect, this great tutorial will show you how to make the iris of the eye more vibrant and also how to add a catchlight. Catchlights are one of those small details that make a tremendous difference in a portrait, as they bring the eyes to life and give them a bit of sparkle, which in turn draws the viewer to them. However, depending on your shooting environment, you may not always get the catch light you want, but luckily, it's not too terribly difficult to add them using Photoshop. When you're working on making the iris pop a bit more, just remember that it's very easy to overdo such effects, particularly with the eyes, and doing so can make your subject look quite fake and off-putting to the viewer. After you've added the effect, be sure to zoom out and vary the opacity to make sure it's not overdone; less is more. 

Log in or register to post comments

7 Comments

Chad D's picture

so this guy must be paying for the ads on here ?

so many other better PS folks who are established and do a better job ?

Can you back that up with some names? At present I find his videos to be satisfactory.

Chad D's picture

glad they are working for ya :) I do think when you have been around a long time and maybe here a few dif ways and try dif ways you see more of the shortcomings just like we go back and look at our work and think OH what was I thinking often over saturation over cooking to often etc.. so I do think everyone learns dif :)

Phlearn is one of the original and has a very solid base of good methods and use

tutvid has some great tips and again his way of doing things but worth looking at

Glyn Dewis for portraits (might be heavy on his style but you learn a lot about toning and so on good info)

f64 academy ? well he might be a yes or no for folks :) he is a bit about using his tools which he sells

nino batista who I think posts here has some good stuff for doing women and some tips often tips are either just that tips on shortcuts or the what not to do kinda things so folks like him or others specialize I feel

photoshop training channel another good one that has been around

greg benz ( about using his panel lumenzia for landscape ) is awesome and a few other folks who are big in landscapes not saying his method only but if that is your thing it will help find and open other methods windows to luminosity masking

Retouching Academy on facebook is a fun group to learn the really high end of beauty retouching but has some controversy :)
funny to watch the storms that happen sometimes to :)

if you get more into it you will start to see feel the difference of techniques and so on
I have been doing post work for other pros for almost 15 years now
I do not claim to be the best but I do know what works and does not and am pretty good at what I do so I reckon I am bias about clean simple ideas

I think maybe learning other methods is often I feel some of his stuff is meant to do one thing and not the whole image which in a workflow is nice to know the whole thing

I just feel he takes what others have done and often puts a bit of a over done look process to them and a few vids cant think of the specifics now that you go YIKES that is a bad way to do things but again I think he is targeting those starting out more and trying to get the ones that still feel the over done over cooked look to make bad look better ?

hope that helps and again I am not trying to be mean to him or anything more power to him :) but just find it funny he has been posted so much here when there are many that are much better
I am sure I missed a lot of the other good retouching PS learning channels

Chad D - Thanks a lot for such a comprehensive and informative response, I really appreciate it! I've actually come across your work on facebook as well, I can't recall how, probably the Sigma lens user group?

But you're completely right, I am in the process of deleting and re-editing crudely edited images that I uploaded years / months ago.

Chad D - One of my best images was a dog portrait, but something in my editing is definitely lacking when compared to your work. The editing on the iris is a no-brainer. But something about the fur seemed so refined. Could you give me some pointers? My portfolio is in my profile.

Chad D's picture

thanks for the kudos :)
feel free send a friend request
https://www.facebook.com/chad.dahlquist.9
I love teaching and am very open about sharing
I taught scuba for 15 years of my life and snowboarding about 8 so again love sharing teaching :)

some rough thoughts and take this like pizza :) as in I like thin crust less cheese more sauce where some like thick more cheese :) so my pizza is not the best just what I like :) hope that makes sense what I am trying to say

I like directional lighting for pets I tend to use just one light
in your pup pic :) I found for pets I do not like grids that show in the catch lights ? gives that fly eye effect I have a few like that myself more a observation

so for fun try this light top down take off the grid move the edge of the modifier so its to the nose of the pet meaning from you to the pet its like camera then your light the edge is in front of the nose not over the pet but out in front toward you ( some of the youtube links below Jeff Rojas will make more sense ? and play from there also get a stuffed animal practice then bring in your pup :)
also unlike Jeff Rojas video or others try the light flat pointing down not angled but again play with all of it :)

the one headshot for dogs brindle basenji is my own pup but in that I have the light over more to light her body more but a 120 light over a small pet would be like a human with a 10 foot modifier :)

also the front fill light you can see in the catch on yours may be flattening out some of that hair shadow detail you get

so I shoot for max detail with pets as you can see

I tend to light from the top and I tend to use the edge of the light or feather it
my fav modifier is the 120 rice bowl which cheetastand is bringing back :)
so basically a large light source and its really low and close I just feel with that large of a modifier on pets I get away with one light and I get good fill light on each side of the pet so a huge fan of large modifiers I really need to get a large umbrella and play with that also (I also use a photek softlighter large)

hoping to put up a youtube channel for lighting and editing pets :)

I try to use a tripod when I can I do think it helps (Joel grimes also says that a lot)
I use the sigma art lens insane sharp but any good sharp lens can work I do think good glass is important BUT that one shot called fuzzy puppy was done with a cheap 35 mm lens a nikon DX lens on a FF body but the lighting and technique I feel are more important than the lens

I use capture one for my raw software (I shoot tethered in studio) and think its nicer output than LR but that is like pizza :) hahahahaha but you will notice quite a few once they wrap their head around using it love it

I think with fur we really need light from a angle so for portraits I tend to put the pet on a white blanket to get that up bounce if its a full length I tend to use a bounce large one I use sheets of insulation silver or white side or a pop out westcott bounce over lights cause I think its smoother and softer so does not kill the shadow as much as a regular fill

been at this a long time so have my own pet methods from my years
for some fun I get inspiration all the time here are a few

Joel grimes one light he did a BH talk that was fun also this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEuEKZTlrms

watch every episode really good info over something like 8 episodes ?

I dont quite point as much as Jeff Rojas but I like his lighting and its very close to what I do
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs0OoW43Bj8

scroll through Glyn Dewis stuff I love his work and lighting he has some good back end pics of his setups in some and at least I go hmmmmmm I have to try that :) hahahahaha
https://www.glyndewis.com/photography/?v=7516fd43adaa

I just need a fire lit under me to get some good pet vids out :)

Cristian Perotti's picture

The catchlight part, great. For the sharpness and the second part, I would go with Portrait Pro. It does basically the same, in less than 30 seconds. It really speeds up your workflow.