The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes

The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears….. Native American Proverb

As promised yesterday, here is a short tutorial on how to change eye colour in Adobe Photoshop.  It’s a very simple process and only takes a few steps to do.  Although I’m showing you how to do a rainbow eye effect, you can use this process to change the eyes to any colour you want.  It is how I changed Kirsty’s blue eyes to brown in the Geisha shoot I showed you yesterday.  Be daring!

First choose a good quality photo with clear eyes and before you start, try to do all the adjustments you want to do first.  If you are going for a black and white with the only colour being in the eyes, do all of those adjustments first. Clean up the skin, teeth, whites of eyes and any other issues with the photo up before you start.  If however, you are going to resize the photo, do this AFTER you’ve finished changing the eyes.  When you’re happy with the photo, it’s time to start the magic.  This is the photo I’m starting with.


Open the photo in Adobe Photoshop (I’m using CC2015 but have used other versions previously for this technique) and click on Create New Layer. (look at the orange arrow on the photo below)  Make the new layer (orange circle) active and change to the paint brush tool.  Make your brush small enough to fit in between the outer edge of the eye’s iris and the pupil.  You don’t want it to hit either edge as the colour will spread out a bit further in the next few steps.


Pick your first colour and paint a dot on each eye.  Choose  bright colours for this as they do fade a bit with the next few steps. Try to put the colour in about the same spot in each eye. Change your colour palette to the next colour and paint a dot on each eye again.  Keep the process going until your eye is fully coloured.  It should look similar to the photo below.   (If you are only doing one colour, choose a few variations of that colour and paint in the eye randomly to make it look more natural)


With the new layer  still active, click on >filter >blur >Gaussian blur.  This will bring a dialogue box up and you can play with the blur slider until the colours start to blend into each other and you can’t see a solid line.  The colour however should still be in the iris and not bleeding into the whites of the eyes or the pupils. For this particular photo I had the blur set to 7 but each photo may be a bit different so just experiment until you’re happy with the result.  If it has gone over the iris lines, you can clean that up carefully with a layer mask later on.  It should now look something like the photo below.

004 guassian blur on 7

When you’re completely happy with the result, it’s time to change the mode to one that suits.  Mode allows different levels of transparency to allow the natural texture of the eyes to shine through.  The mode drop down can be found just above the new layer and the default mode is normal.  Click on the arrow at the side of normal and you’ll find all your available modes.  This really is personal taste and depends on what look you are wanting. I set the mode to colour first which I liked the best but to show you the difference, they are in order, 1.colour, light then 3.screen.  As you can see, this creates a vastly different look each time.  Experiment with all of the modes to see which suits your photograph the best.

005 mode is color005 mode is pin light005 mode is screen

What happens if you’ve done all of this work and then wished the green colour was on the opposite side of the eyes or that you want it a bit lighter or a bit brighter?  This is really easy.  Add a hue/saturation layer on top of the create new layer.  While the hue/saturation layer is active, right mouse click on it and choose create clipping mask.  This will ensure that whatever you do with the hue and saturation, it will only affect the eye colour layer and not the original photo.  When you’ve created the clipping mask, go to the dialogue box and slide the hue slider back and forth.  You’ll find that the colours will slide around the eye until you’ve found what suits you the best.  You can also add or decrease saturation and lightness as well at this time.

006 with hue saturation change the hue


Once you’ve done all of the above, just clean up a little around the eye area to make sure there is no colour bleeding out of the iris into the whites or pupils and you are finished. This isn’t the neatest eye colour change I’ve ever done as I was doing it quickly for the tutorial.   I have used this technique before with a different photo from the same shoot.  I changed that one to black and white before I added the rainbow irises.  This was the result.

Rainbow eye

This photo was the basis for the piece “Through Diamond Eyes”.

Through Diamond Eyes




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