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The windows to the soul: Enhancing the eyes of your subject with LuminarAI

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The key to an arresting close-up portrait is in the eyes. Naturally, nailing focus in camera is your first step, but in post-production there is a lot you can do to enhance your subject’s eyes and draw your viewer into their world.

In this article I’m going to explore how the eye and portrait tools in LuminarAI can be used to enhance and dramatize the eyes of your subject for a compelling portrait.

Using LuminarAI to enhance eyes for a close-up portrait

This is my husband’s favorite photo of our eldest son. He calls it the “sad orphan” photo (although I can assure you our child was simply pensive in this photo and not sad). The composition already draws focus to the eyes but in LuminarAI I’m going to enhance the detail even more.

As a starting point for my LuminarAI edit, I went into the Templates tab and picked the Featured Face template from the Closeups Collection.

Featured Face affects a range of settings, all of which can be fine-tuned in the Edit tab.

Moving into Edit I started fine-tuning the template to get the Essential settings to my liking:

  • Light: I warmed the temperature slightly, Smart Contrast to 20, Blacks to -25.
  • StructureAI: Set Amount to 35.
  • Details: Set Small Details to 10, Medium Details to 50, Large Details to 15, Sharpen to 15.

After tweaking in the Essentials I moved on to the Portrait tools.

Essential setting tweaks to boost the depth and details on a global scale.

The Portrait tools are key for enhancing the eyes in LuminarAI, so I played a lot here:

  • FaceAI: I set Face Light to 40, and removed Slim Face — this is set to 11 in the Featured Face template but for my toddler it isn’t necessary.
  • FaceAI Eyes: The template already has a lot of the work done in here, but I tweaked Iris Visibility to 100, Iris Flare to 65, Eye Whitening to 40, Eye Enhancer to 85. Other settings I left them where the template started.

With these edits made to the Essentials and the Portrait settings, my final image was finished.

Enhancing the eyes in a bridal portrait with LuminarAI

For this bridal portrait (of my beautiful best friend and co-operative model for this series of photos), I again started with Featured Face. This template really works with my preferred editing style of bold and colorful and so much of the editing work is done in a click.

I didn’t change anything in the Essentials panel except for Details, setting Medium Details to 30.

In the Portrait tab I went for FaceAI and started working in the Eyes panel:

  • Iris Visibility increase to 100.
  • Iris Flare increase to 60 (this helped particularly with her right eye being in shadow).
  • Enlarge Eyes just a smidge up to 5.
  • Eye Whitening increase to 20.
  • Eye Enhancer increase to 80.

I also did a few adjustments in the Mouth panel:

  • Lips Saturation increase to 20.
  • Lips Darkening increase to 15.

Everything else I left as set by the Featured Face template.

Copying edit settings from one photo to another in LuminarAI

To use the settings I’ve just tweaked on another photo, there are three options:

  • Right-click the photo, select Adjustments, and then Copy Adjustments. Right-click destination photo and repeat, clicking Paste Adjustments instead.
  • As above but use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V instead.
  • Save the edit settings as a new template by clicking the three-dot menu in the bottom right, and hitting Save to preserve your settings. You can then find the saved template in the Favorites star, under My Templates.

Once saved, your edit settings can be applied to a new photo with one click.

Enhancing eyes in LuminarAI is super straightforward because there is no selecting or masking to be done: it’s all handled by the AI engine. It’s an easy add to my portrait editing workflow!

Create more, with Luminar Neo

Fulfill your creative ideas with Luminar Neo! Preorder now and get the Photofocus preorder bundle, full of extras like a deep dive training video, templates, LUTs, textures and more when Luminar Neo launches.

Jemma Pollari

Jemma Pollari

Jemma is a photographer on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, where she photographs in between mothering her two little boys, writing, teaching and designing. She delivers free photo prompts on her blog the Promptographer Photo Prompt Guide.

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