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| p.1 #18 · making eyes stand out more and look glassy |
Well, I completely forgot to be helpful and answer Jay's original question. How do you make catch lights look like that? Here's my favourite way:
Make a levels or curves layer on top of your image layer. I hate levels and only ever use curves, but it works for both. Circled in red, you can see the handles for blacks, midtones, and whites, respectively.
(Note: a curves layer won't have a midtone handle. That's okay.)
Take both the left handle and the right handle and move each one inward toward the middle. This will dramatically increase your contrast on the whole image and it will look terrible, but don't worry. Ignore the rest of the photo and just make the eyes look the way you want. After that, invert the layer mask from white to black, so that nothing from the curves layer shows through. Now we take a small, soft brush with low opacity and we paint the layer back in slowly on to the eyes.
Do it subtly enough and no one will ever know you used it! Example:
You'd never guess that in this image, I used this method to crush tones in the hair in order to accentuate the highlights, as well as on her eyes, to make the catch lights punch harder.
Important tip: Crushing your tones like this will increase the saturation to unnatural levels, which might make the eyes look demonic. To fix this, simply change your level's blending mode from "normal" to "luminosity". This will make it so your levels/curves layer will affect brightness without screwing with your saturation.
If you're patient enough, this is a very powerful method of selectively modifying contrast in controlled sections of your image. I admit to using it now and then even today - especially on my landscape photos.