Realistic Eye in Photoshop


Here’s a tutorial on how to make a realistic eye in Photoshop, I assume some knowledge of Photoshop and this should work with most versions.

The first thing you need is a mirror, preferably an “enlargment” mirror. This is to take a look at your own eye. Also use photo references.

I always use many layers, different opacity settings and layer modes.

Well to get started then…

This is the eye that we will be doing…

Start with a big circle for the whole eye, use the elliptical marquee tool, fill it and paint it wirh orange and whitish colors, you can always adjust the colurs afterwards.

On a new layer, paint in little veins, use very small brushes and low opacity settings. Use both darker and lighter orangy colours.

Make another smaller circle for the iris on a new layer. Pick your eye colours, a soft brush and a lower opacity setting. What I usually do is I fill the circle (selection) with medium colour and then paint with lighter and darker colurs. Paint from the outer circle to the center of the circle.

Create a copy of the iris layer and use the smudge tool, work both from the center outwards and from the outer circle towards the middle.

Change the layer mode of the last layer to soft light and lower the layer opacity (88%).

Create a new layer, change the layer mode to overlay and opacity (46%), paint in little lines going from the outer ring to the center of the iris.

continues in my next post…


Create a new document, for the size of the image, make the image a little larger than the iris, choose one darker and one lighter eye colour and choose the Cloud filter.

Add Noise, make sure it’s monochromatic.

Then add another filter, Blur - Radial blur - Zoom - Best quality (amount 75).

Use curves to get more contrast.


Move the newly created iris image to your eye image. Scale the new layer down if needed to go with the the rest of the eye. Make sure the middle of the iris layers are in the same spot. Change the top iris layer to difference layer mode, temporarily, while you move the layer into the right position. (the image below is in normal layer mode)

Change the latest iris layer mode to lighten and the opacity (20%).

Add layer masks and erase some parts of the iris layer by paiting in the layer mask, use a biggish soft brush.

Create a copy of the latest iris layer, add the Spatter filter to get some uneveness to the lines and get those little shapes that can be found in many eyes.

Create a couple of copies of these last layers (the ones created from the iris image). I have a total of four of these iris layers. Add layer masks to the layers that don’t have layers masks and erase some parts of the iris. Change the layer modes and opacity settings to these layers. I have used lighten and hard light and opacity setting between 20 and 50%. What you can do, is also to rotate some of the iris layers. To get a bigger variance in the iris.

The colurs are quite saturated so I use the Hue/Saturation to take the saturation down and also change the colour slightly.

There usually is some coloured spots in eyes. So create a new layer and paint in some spots. I have used a greenish colour and changed the layer mode too overlay and opacity to 60%. Make a few layers of spots with different colours, layer modes and opacity settings. I have also added a dark ring round the iris, most people have this dark ring around the iris.

Next is the pupil. The pupil is always round but not always totally even. Make a circle and fill it with black, then paint with a hard small brush, little bumps in the circle.

You might want to add a reflection. What I have done here is I have painted a small curved “square” to sort of follow the shape of the eye. I have painted it light blue, used a couple of colours and then changed the layer mode to screen and lowered the opacity just slightly (98%).

This is the final result once again.

What I do is, to make the eye in a separate image and quite big. When I want to incorporate the eye into my facial texture I merge all iris and pupil layers into one layer and the eyewhite/vein layers into one, the reflection is one, I might want to move it or remove it altogether. These three layers are then moved into my facial texture and scaled down to the correct size. I can then add adjustment layers to the different eye layers if needed, to change colour and saturation. The iris had a really sharp edge so I blurred the two outmost pixels of the iris, to get softer edge.

I hope that this have been of help to some of you, please let me know if anything is unclear.


Tack :), thats a great tutorial. I’ll try it next weekend :smiley:


Varsågod! :slight_smile: If you like let me know how it goes!


O man! madart you are truely a savior, I’ve always wondered how to create the eye shader in photoshop. I’m going to really try to make this sometime this week. Thanks again for this tutorial, I’ll let you know how it goes. :thumbsup:


thank u so much. i am working my character modeling, u just give me a very useful explanation to solve the eye texture problem.


Glad I could be of help! Looking forward to hearing/seeing your results. :slight_smile:


wow! great tutorial! :thumbsup:


thx for the tut
I never like painting the eyes you way is really effecvtive and simple
thx again :thumbsup:


I’ve been to busy to try it yet :frowning:

Thanks again


Thanks for your comments! :slight_smile:

Yes, you could get better results I’m sure, from painting the eyes manually, but this way is quicker and more efficient, for texture work, I think.


Nice tutorial. Nice idea. Thx for sharing


Yeah it looks really good and simple also !

I’m gonna try with a face i’m currently building… i’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for this ! :thumbsup:


HapZungLam and cipher, thanks for your comments!

It would be interesting to see/hear how it goes, for those of you who’d like to tell me! :slight_smile:


very nice- thx for posting it =)


That is indeed very interesting, i’m glad i have seen this tutorial :slight_smile:


Big thx goes to u for sharing your technic… it willl be very helpfull!


hagarun, shserge, nikoxil, thanks for your comments!


you have amazing tuts. keep them coming :smiley: