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How to Create Rainbow Eye Colors in Photoshop CC 2020 Or Later

Why limit yourself to a single eye color when you can choose every color in the rainbow! Learn how to give your subject rainbow-colored eyes with Photoshop! Now updated for Photoshop CC 2020.

To follow along, you'll need Photoshop CC 2020 or later. For earlier versions of Photoshop, check out my original Rainbow Eye Color tutorial.

Here's what the main rainbow eye color effect will look like. As I mentioned, we'll be learning how to create different variations as well:

The final rainbow eye color effect in PhotoshopThe final rainbow eye color effect.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Open your photo

Start by opening your image into Photoshop. I'll use this image from Adobe Stock:

Opening the original photo in Photoshop. Photo credit: Adobe StockThe original photo. Credit: Adobe Stock.

In the Layers panel, the image appears on the Background layer:

Photoshop's Layers panel showing the photo on the Background layer.Photoshop's Layers panel.

Step 2: Load Photoshop's legacy gradients

To give the eyes their rainbow colors, we'll use a gradient known as Spectrum. And in previous versions of Photoshop, Spectrum was easy to find because it was one of the default gradients. But Photoshop CC 2020 replaces the original default gradients with new ones, and the originals have all been moved into a Legacy Gradients set. And to use this set, we first need to load it into Photoshop.

To load the set, open the Gradients panel. You'll find it in the same panel group as the Color, Swatches and Patterns panels:

The new Gradients panel in Photoshop CC 2020The new Gradients panel in Photoshop CC 2020.

Then click on the panel's menu icon in the upper right:

Opening the Gradients panel menu in Photoshop CC 2020Opening the Gradients panel menu.

And choose Legacy Gradients from the menu:

How to load the Legacy Gradients in Photoshop CC 2020Loading the legacy gradients.

Scroll down through the folders in the Gradients panel and you'll find the new Legacy Gradients folder at the bottom. We won't be selecting our gradient from the Gradients panel, but we now have it loaded into Photoshop and ready for when we need it:

The Legacy Gradients folder in the Gradients panel in Photoshop CC 2020The Legacy Gradients folder appears.

Related: The new gradients and Gradients panel in Photoshop CC 2020!

Step 3: Select the Ellipse Tool

Next, select the Ellipse Tool from the toolbar. The Ellipse Tool is one of Photoshop's basic shape tools, and we can create most of the rainbow eye color effect using this one tool.

By default, the Ellipse Tool is hiding behind the Rectangle Tool. So to select it, right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the Rectangle Tool's icon and then choose the Ellipse Tool from the fly-out menu:

Selecting the Ellipse Tool from the toolbar in PhotoshopSelecting the Ellipse Tool from behind the Rectangle Tool.

Step 4: Set the Tool Mode to "Shape"

In the Options Bar, make sure the Tool Mode is set to Shape, not Path or Pixels:

Setting the Tool Mode for the Ellipse Tool to Shape in PhotoshopSetting the Tool Mode to Shape.

Step 5: Change the Fill Type to "Gradient"

Since we'll need to fill our shape with a gradient, click on the Fill color swatch in the Options Bar:

Clicking the Fill Type color swatch for the Ellipse Tool. Clicking the Fill color swatch.

And then in the Fill Type dialog box, choose Gradient from the choices along the top:

Selecting the Gradient fill type. Selecting the Gradient fill type.

Step 6: Choose the Spectrum gradient

Still in the same dialog box, scroll down through the gradient folders until you reach the Legacy Gradients folder at the bottom (the one we loaded in earlier), and click on the arrow to the left of the folder icon to twirl it open:

Opening the Legacy Gradients folder in Photoshop CC 2020Opening the Legacy Gradients folder.

Inside the Legacy Gradients folder, twirl open the Legacy Defaults Gradients folder:

Opening the Gradient Default Gradients folder in Photoshop CC 2020 Opening the Legacy Default Gradients folder.

And then inside that folder, select the Spectrum gradient by clicking on its thumbnail:

Choosing the Spectrum gradient from the Legacy Default Gradients set in PhotoshopChoosing the Spectrum gradient.

Step 7: Change the Gradient Style to "Angle"

With the Spectrum gradient selected, change the Gradient Style option from Linear (the default setting) to Angle. And when you're done, press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on your keyboard to close the dialog box:

Changing the Gradient Style to Angle in PhotoshopChanging the Gradient Style to Angle.

Step 8: Draw an elliptical shape over the first eye

We're ready to draw our first shape. Choose one of the eyes (doesn't matter which one) and position your mouse cursor directly in the center of the pupil (the dark area in the middle). We're going to draw the shape out from this point.

I'll start with the left eye. Click in the center of the eye to set the starting point for the shape:

Positioning the mouse cursor in the center of the eye. Positioning the mouse cursor in the center of the eye.

Then with your mouse button still held down, begin dragging away from that point in any direction. An outline of the shape will appear.

How to draw a perfect circle

Once you've started dragging, press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard and the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key. The Shift key locks the shape into a perfect circle, while the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key tells Photoshop to draw the shape from its center (the spot where you first clicked).

Continue dragging until the outline of the shape surrounds the entire iris (the colored area). Don't worry if some of the shape extends into the white of the eye or into the eyelids. We'll clean up those areas in a moment. For now, just make sure that the entire iris fits within the outline of the shape:

Drawing the shape out from the center until it surrounds the entire iris. Drawing the shape out from the center until the outline surrounds the entire iris.

How to reposition the shape as you draw it

If you need to reposition the shape as you're drawing it, keep the Shift key and the Alt / Option key held down and add the spacebar. Drag your mouse to move the shape and center it over the eye, and then release the spacebar to continue drawing.

When you're done, release your mouse button, and then release your Shift and Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) keys. Make sure you release the keys after you've released your mouse button or you'll lose the effect that those keys were having.

Photoshop draws the shape and fills it with our Spectrum gradient:

The shape covers the area of the eye we want to colorize. The shape covers the area we want to colorize.

Related: New drag and drop color swatches in Photoshop CC 2020!

Step 9: Change the shape layer's blend mode to "Color"

In the Layers panel, the shape appears on its own shape layer above the image. To blend the colors of the gradient in with the eye, change the Blend Mode of the shape layer from Normal to Color:

Changing the blend mode of the Shape layer to Color. Changing the blend mode of the shape to "Color".

The Color blend mode colorizes the eye with the colors from the gradient. Don't worry if the outline is still visible around the shape. It will disappear as soon as we choose a different tool:

The eye color effect after changing the shape's blend mode to ColorThe result after changing the shape's blend mode to "Color".

Related: The Top 5 Photoshop blend modes you need to know!

Step 10: Add a layer mask to the shape layer

To clear away the gradient from the white of the eye and the eyelids, we'll use a layer mask.

With the Shape layer still selected, click the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Clicking the Add Layer Mask icon in Photoshop's Layers panelClicking the Add Layer Mask icon.

A white-filled layer mask thumbnail appears on the shape layer. And notice the highlight border around the thumbnail. The border tells us that the layer mask, not the shape itself, is selected. This means that anything we do next will be done to the mask, not to the shape:

A layer mask thumbnail appears on the shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panelA layer mask thumbnail appears on the shape layer.

Step 11: Select the Brush Tool

We'll hide the unwanted areas of the gradient by painting over them with black on the layer mask.

First select the Brush Tool from the toolbar:

Selecting the Brush Tool from Photoshop's toolbarSelecting the Brush Tool.

Related: Photoshop's hidden Brush Tool tips and tricks!

Step 12: Set the brush color to black

Photoshop uses the current Foreground color as the brush color, which means that to paint with black, we need to set our Foreground color to black. The current Foreground and Background colors appear in the two color swatches near the bottom of the toolbar. The Foreground color is the swatch in the upper left.

If your Foreground color is not set to black, press the letter D on your keyboard to quickly reset the Foreground and Background colors to their defaults. This sets the Foreground color to white and the Background color to black. Then press the letter X on your keyboard to swap the colors, making your Foreground color black:

Photoshop's Foreground color swatch set to black. The Foreground color (upper left) should be set to black.

Step 13: Paint around the iris

In the Options Bar, make sure the brush's Blend Mode is set to Normal, and that Opacity and Flow are both set to 100%:

The Brush Tool's Mode, Opacity and Flow options in the Options Bar in PhotoshopThe Mode, Opacity and Flow options in the Options Bar.

Then simply paint around the outside of the iris to hide the unwanted colors from the gradient.

For best results, use a small soft-edge brush. To change your brush size from the keyboard, press the left bracket key ( ) repeatedly to make the brush smaller or the right bracket key ( ] ) to make it larger. Or to adjust the hardness of the brush, press and hold your Shift key while pressing the left bracket key to make the brush softer or the right bracket key to make the brush harder.

Here, I'm painting away the gradient that extends into the white areas of the eye. Since we're painting on a layer mask, we don't see our brush color as we paint. Instead, the gradient colors disappear in the areas we paint over:

Hiding the gradient in the white area of the eyeHiding the gradient in the white areas of the eye.

I'll also paint over the eyelid at the top to remove the gradient colors from that area:

Hiding the gradient in the eyelidsHiding the gradient in the eyelids.

How to fix a mistake

If you make a mistake and paint away some of the color in the iris, press the letter X on your keyboard to swap your Foreground and Background colors. This will set your Foreground color to white. Paint over the area with white to restore the colors. Then press X to swap the colors again, setting your Foreground color back to black, and continue painting.

Finally, I'll paint inside the pupil in the center of the eye to remove the unwanted color from that area:

Hiding the gradient in the pupilHiding the gradient in the pupil.

So far, so good. We now have our first eye colorized with our rainbow colors:

The <a class=Rainbow Eyes effect so far. " height="451" width="806"/>The rainbow eyes effect so far.

So let's quickly follow the same step will use early to apply rainbow color to the second eye and have it done and look like below image:

Each eye is now set to a different variation of the rainbow effect. Each eye is now set to a different variation of the effect.

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Adobe Stock Photoshop Rainbow Eye


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