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How To Enhance Eyes In GIMP

See how a subtle change to a portrait can makes a huge difference to its appearance. Here’s how to do it.

|  Gimp
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Updated Feb 2012.


Duplicate Layer

First, you need to open your image and then duplicate it in the layers panel by right-clicking and selecting 'Duplicate Layer' or you can go the Layer's menu and select it from there. This is something you should always do when editing photos so if something major goes wrong, you always have the original to go back to. Feel free to rename each layer too if you so wish. You do this by double-clicking on the layer, typing the new name in the text box and hitting the enter key when you're ready to apply the changes.

Create a new layer

Zoom In

Zoom Tool

Next, go over to the Tools and select the Zoom Tool. This will let you zoom into the area you’re working on and make it easier for you to apply changes to the image (you can use the + and - keys on your keyboard to adjust the zoom).

Make Your SelectionFree Select Tool

As the eyes are what we want to brighten, select the Free Select Tool so we can make a selection around them.

Free Selection
Towards the end of the Toolbox you’ll see a series of squares under the Free Select title. Make sure the second one a long (Add To Current Selection) is selected so when you move to select the opposite eye, the selection for the first isn't removed. Having antialiasing ticked smooths the selection. You can also tick Feather edges to further soften the transition between the selection and none-selection parts of the image but there's no need to do this for this tutorial.

You then just have to click and draw around each iris until you have two circles of 'running ants'.


Brighten Eyes

Go to the Colours menu and click on the Brightness/Contrast tool. This will open a new window where you can adjust the brightness and contrast by moving sliders or by inputting a figure into the box to the side of each control.

Starting with the Contrast, adjust the sliders accordingly (the preview will show you how they’ll change so make sure the Preview box is ticked), move on to adjusting the Brightness then when you’re happy with how the eyes look, click OK.

Brightness adjustment


Next we want to adjust the sharpness of the eyes and we’re going to use a Unsharp Mask to do this. Go to Filters>Enhance>Unsharp Mask to open the appropriate window.

Unsharp Mask

Again, you’ll see a series of sliders (Radius, Amount, Threshold) which when moved, will adjust the image. Once you’re happy with the look, click OK for the changes to occur.



Once complete, zoom back out and see how changing the eyes slightly can help enhance an image.

Eyes adjusted

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Tad 8 United Kingdom
11 Jun 2012 11:29PM
Great effects but why not with capture nx program ? As should be for nikon :-/

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