Eye Color

Admit it - you'd love to be able to easily change the eye color of some special person in your life.

It's really easy to do and if you went through the hair color change tutorial then you know everything you need to know already.

With Photoshop Elements 9 there are a plethora (that means a lot) of different methods to modify someone's baby blues to some other interesting color.

This tutorial will focus on a trusted method using an adjustment layer.

There is some painting involved in the technique and a Wacom tablet will make this critical part of the color change easier and much more accurate.

The Image

Here is the original we will be working with.

Her natural color (unless her eyes were digitally colored) is kind of a yellowish-gray color (#82764c) and this gives a nice base to work with.

eye color original

Hue And Saturation

eye color background copied

It's always a good idea to make a copy of the original image by dragging the Background onto the new layer icon (outlined in red).

If a complete disaster occurs then you have the original at the bottom of the stack.

eye color hue and saturation

Now we can get started - with the Background copy selected add a Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer. 

This is how the layers palette will look with the three layers.

That's all of the set-up so now the rest of the technique is simply adjusting the eye color and painting it in


When the Hue and Saturation Adjustment Panel opens you will see the Initial Settings.

To apply a color to the whole image put a check mark in the Colorize box.

eye color first adjustment
Initial Setting

When the Hue and Saturation Adjustment layer is created these are the settings in the Adjustment Panel.

The image is not changed.
eye color colorized

This applies a color to the image and the settings can be changed by moving the three sliders around.
  • Hue - top slider
  • Saturation - middle slider
  • Lightness - bottom slider
Play around with these settings until you get a color you like and don't worry about the fact that the whole picture is colorized - we're going to take care of
that right away ... (remind you of Avatar?).

Layer Mask

eye color layer mask
The wonderful thing about the Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer is that it comes with it's own Layer Mask.

That means you can show or hide parts of the adjustments in truly wonderful ways.

To get rid of the overall color added when the Colorize button checked and to keep the nice new color available simply select the Layer Mask by clicking on it (it's highlighted in yellow simply to point it out) and press Ctr-I or Cmd-I to Invert the Mask.

What was visible (blue in my case) disappears as the picture returns to normal plus the Layer Mask turns from white to black.

Like this ...

eye color normal
eye color colorized
eye color after inverting layer mask

Now the magic trick is to bring back only the eye color.

Because we're working on a layer mask that is filled with black we need to paint over the eyes with white to reveal the new eye color (in this case a nice deep blue).

Some guidelines/suggestions for working with the layer mask...
  • Zoom in tight (really close) on one eye at a time.
  • Choose a small brush.
  • Set the dynamics of the brush to change with pressure.

eye color blue eye

And that's all there is to changing eye color.  Here's the image with nice new blue eyes.

eye color new color

There are, however, some other things that can be done to further modify the eyes.

Additional Adjustments

Change Opacity

The Hue and Saturation adjustment layer is set at 100% Opacity by default.  If the opacity is lowered then the effect of the layer can be decreased.

eye color opacity change

The Hue and Saturation Opacity was lowered to 44% to produce this result.

Blending Mode

Another change that can be made is to change the Blend Mode of the Hue and Saturation Layer.  There are 25 Blend Modes in Photoshop Elements and you can try them all`but the ones that will  likely produce the best results are Color, Multiply (to darken), Screen (to lighten).

eye color blend modes

Changing the Blend Mode to Color provides a slightly different result than lowering the opacity.

There you go - a simple method for changing eye color using and Adjustment Layer.  This method provides unlimited combinations of Hue, Saturation and Lightness.

Page Links

The Image

Hue and Saturation


Layer Masks

Additional Adjustments

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