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Chapter 1. Naked Eyes: Retouching Eyes > Reducing Dark Circles Under Eyes

Reducing Dark Circles Under Eyes

Although you don’t see this on the cover of magazines, most people have dark circles under their eyes. In fact, as long as your subject isn’t four years old, it’s almost a certainty that they’re going to have some kind of dark circles under their eyes. And, depending on the lighting you use, you can make them less noticeable, or more so, but they’re almost always there. Here’s not only how to reduce or remove them, but how to deal with one of the most annoying side effects of using the Healing Brush (or the Patch tool) to do this type of retouch.

Step One.
Open a photo that has dark circles beneath the eyes that you want to lessen (you have to choose whether you want to reduce them or remove them all together. You’ll have to make the call based on the subject’s age—if they’re over 30, just reduce them).

Step Two.
Start by zooming in on the eye area and then pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to duplicate the Background layer (so we’re working on a copy of the Background. This is important, because we’re going to use this layer to control the amount of removal later on). Get the Healing Brush tool (press Shift-J until you have it) and, in the Options Bar, choose a small, hard-edged brush from the Brush Picker, and make sure the Sample pop-up menu is set to Current Layer. Now, totally remove the dark areas by Option-clicking (PC: Alt-clicking) in a nearby area that has kind of the same skin tone as where the dark areas are (usually just below the dark area). Then, paint over the dark areas (and wrinkles) to get completely rid of them as best you can (as seen here). It looks a little artificial at this point (though, you see this look on magazine covers all the time), but we’ll adjust that later. For now, just remove the dark areas.

Step Three.
Although the Healing Brush does a pretty decent job of getting rid of the dark areas, it usually leaves kind of a smeared dark area under the eye, which stinks, because you’re trying to remove the dark circle, right? So, this retouch usually requires two tools: you start with the Healing Brush (like we just did in Step Two) and then you switch to the Clone Stamp tool. So, get the Clone Stamp tool (S) from the Toolbox, then go up to the Options Bar, lower the Opacity of it to around 40%, then change the Mode pop-up menu to Lighten (that way, when you use the Clone Stamp tool, you’ll only affect areas that are darker than the area you sampled).

Step Four.
Press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key and click once in an area near the eye that isn’t affected by the dark circles. If the cheeks aren’t too rosy (like in this image), you can click there to sample, but more likely you’ll sample an area just below the dark circles under the eyes.

Step Five.
Now, take the Clone Stamp tool and paint a stroke (from left to right) over the dark circles to lessen or remove them. It may take two or more strokes for them to pretty much disappear (go right, then back to the left, and so on), so don’t be afraid to go back over the same area again, if the first stroke didn’t work.

Step Six.
You can control the amount of dark circle area and wrinkles appearing under the eye by lowering the Opacity of the top layer. Here, I’ve lowered it to 60%, so just a little tiny bit of the natural dark circle area and wrinkle appear, and of course, the whole retouch now looks much more natural. That being said, remember—there may be situations where, as the retoucher, you decide that for a particular subject (or intended use) you don’t want any dark circles or wrinkles to appear whatsoever. If that’s the case, just leave the layer opacity at 100%. But, that’s a call only you can make. A before and after (at 60% opacity) is shown on the next page.

Download this image. See pg. xi.


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