To enhance eyes and facial features, we are going to add Structure, Brightness and Contrast filters to the entire image, then—using a filter mask—selectively apply the effect to just the eyes, eyebrows, nostrils and lips. The Structure filter will add clarity and micro-contrast. The downside: this filter usually darkens the image. To bring back brightness, we will use the Brightness and Contrast filter. Let’s get started!

Basic Development

Before we tackle enhancing the eyes and facial features, let’s begin processing the image using the Develop filter found under the Essential category. For this image, I want to tone down the highlights, bring out the shadows, make the whites a little less bright and enrich the blacks. Now we have a good base to begin our retouching.

Applying an Adjustment Layer

We can continue to add filters to the base layer but, for more control, let’s add an adjustment layer. Adjustment layers are a powerful way to “build up” your images. They allow you to add filters—or stack several filters together—to apply corrections or enhancements. They let us change blending modes, add a layer mask and/or adjust the overall opacity to reveal or hide the layer below. In short, an adjustment layer is a powerful tool in our workflow. To create an adjustment layer, click the + icon in the Layers Toolbar.

Globally Applying Structure

WARNING: the image is going to look terrible at first, just focus on the eyes. If the Filter Catalog doesn’t appear, click Add Filters in the Filters Toolbar. Select the Structure filter from the Essentials category. Increase the amount to 100% and then dial it back until the eyes look good. Decrease softness for a harder edge. Remember, we are only focusing on the eyes.

Selectively Applying Structure

To selectively apply the structure affect to the eyes, we need at add a mask. A mask lets you paint with a brush to control where a filter’s results are shown or hidden. When applied to a layer, the mask will affect all filters on that layer where a Filter Mask only affects the individual filter. Click on the Filter Brush, select brush and, at 100% opacity, paint in the structure effect on the eyes. Don’t forget to add the eyelashes too. At this point, we can change the brush opacity to 75% and continue to paint the structure effect to the eyebrows, lips, and nostrils. This will help separate facial features from the skin softening we will apply in Part 2 of Portrait Retouching with Luminar. Use the mask visibility icon as a guide to see where you are applying the effect. The ruby red color shows where the mask is being applied and the strength. A darker color represents a strong effect where a lighter red color represents a weaker effect. Select “done” when finished masking.

Bringing Back Brightness and Add Contrast

Darkening the image is a side effect of the Structure filter. A quick fix is to add the Brightness and Contrast filter found under the Utility category. Apply this filter to the current layer and then selectively paint effect at 100% on just the iris of the eye. If you need to whiten the eye, lower the opacity and paint the effect in.

Adjusting the Strength of the Effect

Notice how we applied the Brightness and Contrast filter to the same adjustment layer as the structure filter? We did this so we can use the adjustment layer’s opacity to adjust the strength of both effects. Let’s look at the full-size image to determine if we need to adjust the strength. Select Fit to Screen from the view drop-down menu. One look and you can see the eyes look, well creepy. The effect is too strong. Lower the adjustment layer’s opacity to make the eyes look more natural. Click on the visibility icon to see a before and after image.

Portrait Retouching with Luminar is a three-part series: Enhancing Eyes and Facial Features; Smoothing Skin, Sculpting the Face and Removing Blemishes; and Adding a Finishing Touch.