There are lots of ways to fix under eye circles and puffiness in Lightroom.
But the method I’ll show you here is my favorite. It’s quick and easy and, most importantly, it’s subtle but effective.
Step 1: Move to the Develop Module
To start, bring up the photo that you want to work on in the Lightroom’s Develop module. To do this, click on Develop in the task bar at the top of the interface or press the letter D.
Step 2: Zoom into the eyes
Once in the Develop module, zoom in to get a close-up view of the eyes.
There are several ways to zoom in Lightroom:
Use the Navigator bar
The Navigation bar sits at the top left of the Lightroom interface.
The two left-most buttons on the bar–FILL and FIT–let you magnify a photo based on the size of the viewing area. The two right-most buttons let you magnify a photo based on a particular magnification amount. Click once on any of these to instantly change the magnification level of the image.
FIT: Lightroom fits the entire photo into the Active Image viewing area.
FILL: Lightroom magnifies the image to fill the entire Active Image viewing area. Keep in mind that this might means that some part of the image can’t be seen. If you are working with a photo that is taller than it is wide, parts of the top and/or bottom of the image will be beyond the edges of the viewing area; if you are working with a photo thetas wider than it is tall, parts of the left and/or right will be beyond the edges.
1:1: This option sets the zoom level based on magnification. When you click on 1:1, Lightroom magnifies the image to full magnification. At 1:1 zoom, the image is the shown as its actual size.
Variable Magnification: The last option in the Navigation bar lets you set you own magnification level. This button is a drop down. Click on it and you can select from multiple zoom levels:
By the way, it might help to know that the 3:1 level is 300%; the 1:3 level is 33.33%.
Use keyboard shortcuts
You can use the keyboard shortcuts Cmd +/- (plus or minus) on a Mac or Ctrl +/- on a PC to move though the zoom settings in the Navigator bar.
Click on the image/Press the spacebar/Press the letter Z
All of these options–click on the image, press the space bar, or press the letter Z–do the same thing. They toggle the zoom level between the most recently used of the two left-most buttons on the Navigation bar–FILL and FIT– and the most recently used of the two right-most buttons on the Navigation bar, the magnification amount buttons.
This probably sounds confusing, so an example might be helpful.
Say that you have been viewing a photo at the FIT level, but before that at some point, you were viewing it at 1:1 magnification.
By either single-clicking on the image, pressing the space bar, or pressing the letter Z changes the zoom level of the photo back to the 1:1 magnifications level you were viewing earlier. Doing it again–single-clicking on the image, pressing the space bar, or pressing the letter Z–will change the zoom level back to the FIT setting.
Use the Zoom Tool
The Zoom tool gives you the same magnification options as those found on the Navigation bar. But the Zoom tool is a sliding tool and it’s found in the toolbar underneath the Image viewing area.
If you don’t see the Zoom tool there, you can add it by clicking the triangle to the far right of the toolbar and selecting the word Zoom from the pop-up box.
Step 3: Use the Spot Removal tool
Ok, now that you have your photo open in the Develop Module and it’s zoomed in to the area around the eye, it’s time to do use the Spot Removal tool’s Clone brush to fix any dark areas, puffiness or circles under each eye.
When making this correction, keep in mind that it will look more natural if you avoid making the skin around the eyes look TOO smooth and flawless. A light touch works best here. Any more and you chance giving your subject a plastic, unrealistic appearance.
Select the Spot Removal tool and Change its Settings
Select the Spot Removal tool from the tool strip under the Histogram on the right side of the Develop module. The Spot Removal tool is the second button from the left. Or, press the letter Q to select the tool.
The tool settings will open.
- Set the brush type to Clone.
- Adjust the size of the brush so that it works with the under eye area that you are trying to cover. One way to do this is by using the bracket keys. Press “ [ ” to make the brush smaller or “ ] ” to make it larger. You can also roll your mouse wheel to change the brush size. Or, you can drag the size slider in the settings box.
- Set Feather to 100.
- Set Opacity to 35 for now.
Brush over the under eye area
Now, brush over the under eye area, covering any dark areas, lines and/or puffiness.
When you’ve covered the area completely, pull your finger up from your mouse and you will see two selections connected by a dotted line.
One selection outlines the area that you just painted. The other will be an automatic selection created by Lightroom. This second selection is Lightroom’s best guess for a replacement of the area that you painted over.
I’m not usually satisfied with Lightroom’s suggestion for the replacement area. That’s especially true when working with under eye circles because I’ve found that the skin closest to the eye area is usually the best option for a replacement.
So, I’ll move the replacement selection to just under the eye area.
To move a selection, click on the pin inside the selection and drag.
Now, all that’s left to do is tweak the opacity so that the look is natural.
With that done, here’s my before and after:
Now, repeat this process on the other eye.
Before and after: