Adding a Bottom Catch/Kicker Light to an Eye

This trick to adding a bottom catch/kicker light to an eye that I use in all my photos take about 5 minutes from start to finish in Photoshop, so it’s fairly quick and this method can really help add some shape to the eye while brightening them up a little more at the same time.

I’ve been doing a variation of this method for sometime and know Glyn Dewis has too but I have since refined my method since purchasing Scott Kelby’s Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop.  The book is the best I’ve read on the subject and my current Photoshop favorite. So if you like this tutorial and don’t want to wait for my next post this would be the book I recommend.

For this tutorial I’ll be working on the same image I used for the two other tutorials (Brightening the Eyes & 10 Step Skin Retouch). Here’s the image:


Step 1

Create a new layer. Using the Elliptical Marquee tool (the dotted circle icon) select the iris and pupil leaving a bit of the dark edge. It’s almost impossible to do this step without pressing the space to reposition the marquee. Once you have your selection press Shift+F5 to bring up the fill box and fill your selection with white.


Step 2

Now bring up the Rectangular Marquee tool. Select the top half of the circle and press Delete. It should look something like this.


Now Ctrl+Click the icon on the layer you created in step 1. This will create a selection around the half circle you just made. Move the selection up using the arrow keys to create a crescent shape. Press delete.

Step 3

Add a Gaussian blur of about 4-8px (I used 6 in my image).


Step 4

Change the blend mode to soft light.

Step 5

Repeat steps 1-5 on a new layer for the other eye.

Step 6

Now you can make any final tweaks. I like to reposition the layers and use free transform (Ctrl+T) to get the highlight in just the right place.  Also if the highlight extends into the eyelid, like in the right eye of my image, you can add a layer mask (click the rectangular icon with the circle in it in the bottom corner) and then paint it away using a soft brush with the foreground colour set to black.

Step 6

Ctrl+Click both the new layers (not the icons this time) you created and press Ctrl+G to put them in a new group.  Now select the group and lower the opacity till your happy with the effect.


Note: Because we never merged these layers you can always go back into the group and adjust the opacity of each light independently or move them slightly ( I do this if I think the kicker is protruding to far into the dark area around the iris of the eye).

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