Where I'm from, a large fraction of the population have jet/pitch black eyes with no "texture" to them, or a very dark brown.
In cosplay photography (my field), models would simulate colorful eyes of the fictional characters they're cosplaying by wearing colorful contacts. But for various reasons, sometimes they cannot wear contacts on some shoots (e.g. eyes are really irritated that day). And a popular request is that they would like me to edit the eye color in to post to make it look like they're wearing color contacts.
I have looked for online tutorials on how to change eye color: however, I could only find tutorials about changing eye colors when the eye already has a color - presumably, written by and for a western audience where there is a large diversity of eye colors. The tutorials usually outline the same technique (from my understanding): lasso the eyes, create a HSL adjustment layer, and adjust the hue.
If I understand correctly, this method does not seem to work for pure black eyes, because hue-shifting black by any degree still gives you black. Using the "colorize" option helps a little, but without the "texture" (the blood vessels radiating outwards from the pupil), the eye looks like a solid color.
Below is my attempt, working on the model's right eye and leaving the other eye untouched for comparision. Instead of adjusting HSL, I used the blue tone curve instead. I see 3 main issues I need to solve:
- Just colorizing the eye area directly will result in a solid color. The white streaks (blood vessels?) that extend radially outwards from the pupil are missing in dark eyes, I solved this by downloading brushes online meant for painting in irises in digital art.
- From my knowledge, the catchlights (or the reflection of the scene in the eye) should keep their original color (pure-white ish), but the adjustment layer would indiscriminately color everything within the eye.
- Lassoing the eye will include the pupil in the center (causing it to also be colored). From the best of my understanding, the pupil should be black regardless of iris color. I solved this by painting a black dot in the adjustment layer's layer mask but surely there must be a more elegant solution.
For reference, here is a photo of another model wearing actual color contacts in similar lighting conditions:
Is my attempt "good enough", or is there a more convincing way to do this in Photoshop?
Addendum: by "eye color" i am specifically referring to the iris, not the eye whites