Portrait editing series: 2 – How to Brighten Eyes in Lightroom

On my Lightroom workshops one of the most popular things we cover is editing a portrait using the healing tool and adjustment brushes to create the perfectly natural portrait. On my personal branding sessions I ‘beauty re-touch’ all the portraits that get selected. I don’t want to ‘airbrush’ to the point that my subject looks unrecognisable to their clients – but I do want to help someone feel confident to share their portrait – its them on a good hair/skin day! So let’s learn how to retouch and brighten those tired eyes in Lightroom

Let’s start with a portrait that has been edited with your preset – this image uses my preset ‘Paint’ from my Fine Art Collection.

STEP 1: I start with any blemishes that need retouching & softening of the skin – you can learn how to do this on the first blog post of this series.

STEP 2: Use your shortcut key Q for the Heal tool and we will address the tired eyes – we all have them! Well especially once you pass a certain age 😉

Zoom in so the eye is fairly large on your screen but so you can still see cheek. Version 10 Lightroom makes zooming in much easier to understand – we now have percentages rather than 1:1/1:2 etc

Using the heal tool paint an area under the eye that can be copied from the smoother cheek. Sometimes this has to be done in 2 or 3 goes. Pull down the opacity to 30% to keep a natural reduction in dark shadows and lines. We are not looking for full Botox!


Let’s head over to your adjustment brushes – the shortcut for this is K – I call this K for let’s give this image a KICK!

Get hold of your Eddie’s EYE SPARKLE brush – this is available with the TOOL KIT and the PORTRAITURE COLLECTION *COMING SOON* If you have the little Effect closed (using the little triangle right of the brush name)

Your brush will look too string when you paint it on but this helps you to see where you have painted it.

I apply this around the iris and the bottom part of the iris – NOT the whole of the eye. Usually this is all you need to brighten the eye enough. Illustrated with the brush highlighted above.

Bring down the EYES SPARKLE amount until it looks more natural – usually around 15%.

I want to help someone feel confident to share their portrait

STEP 4: If you didn’t get the best light on your subjects eyes then use Eddie’s REFLECTOR brush – this will bring the eyes to life.


Finally – if there is any redness to the eye – use the EDDIE’s RED EYEBALL FIX to reduce this on the whole of the white area. This will bring down the redness and brighten the entire eye.

All these steps may take a while the first time – but with the use of the tools and brushes you will be doing each eye in a matter of seconds.

THATS IT! EYES DONE! NEXT in the series is How to Whiten Teeth – so hop over there and you will have successfully done the 3 basic retouching stages that you need to do for a great looking portrait.

If you would like to cover these steps with me over a 1-1 virtual Zoom call then book on my QUICK FIX here and I can help you with this, or any other troubleshooting issue you are having with Lightroom such as workflow or presets.

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