Altering eye color is simpler than it has ever been, thanks to the Color Replacement tool.
This is grouped with the Brush tool and the Pencil tool in the Photoshop CS4 toolbar
(Photoshop CS grouped it with the Healing Brush and Patch tools). This powerful and easyto-
use tool relieves a lot of the stress suffered by both amateurs and pros alike, who used to
spend a lot of time wishing such a tool existed.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this cool feature, let me say that it still has a
drawback: it is destructive to the layer (meaning that it alters the pixels), so it is not a miracle
cure for every recoloring ailment. In the next variation I’ll take you through another process
that allows you to preserve the original layer. But first let’s do some painting!
As with other tools, this one has settings that can be changed on the Options bar.
For this technique, set the blending mode to Hue and ensure that Find Edges is selected for
the Limits setting. Brush Diameter should be 20, Sampling Mode should be Continuous,
Tolerance should be 30%, and Anti-alias should be checked. With the Find Edges setting,
Photoshop will look for boundaries to paint within while the new color is being applied,
thus allowing only the hue of the iris and not the areas outside it to change.
Hue blending mode creates a color based on the luminance and saturation of the base
Before you change the color of the eyes, you will want to choose a new color. Open the
Color Picker (click the foreground color) and select a new color (see Figure 2.7). Click OK.
Duplicate the Background layer to keep the
original image unaltered and start painting over the
iris with an appropriately sized brush. I love the Hue
setting, because the color change is subtle yet clearly
evident (see Figure 2.8). The reflections are retained,
the pupil remains black, and the eye color still looks
For colors that are richer, change the blending
mode of the brush to Saturation. A richer green is
displayed, but the eye clearly looks manipulated and
unnatural (see Figure 2.9).
This can be quickly adjusted by lowering the
Opacity setting of the top layer to 10–20%, giving a
far more natural appearance.
Delete the previously retouched layer and duplicate
the Background layer. Change the blending
mode of the brush to Color. Those of you familiar
with retouching may recognize this mode, because it
was a primary mode for retouching in earlier versions
Paint over the iris again. If the color is still too
outlandish, reduce the layer opacity to 30–40%.
When I’m working with eyes and lips, the Color
blending mode is by far my favorite. The eye color
teeters on the edge of natural and unnatural; it could
be real, but it could be enhanced—at least that is
what viewers will think, and I like to keep them
guessing (see Figure 2.10).
History Brush. When finished, your model should have a new set of peepers, or at least colored
contact lenses (see Figure 2.11).
Color blending mode creates a color based on the luminance of the base color, hue, and
saturation of the blend color.