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3 Easy Ways to Fix Red Eye in Photoshop
Elaine Ashburn on Sun, February 15th 0 comments
It's time to rid your photos of that mark of the devil / vampire elements. Using Photoshop, Elaine Ashburn demonstrates three ways to remove the ever troublesome red eye from your precious snaps.

We all know there are numerous ways to get red eye: lack of sleep, one too many or the flash of a camera hitting the retina of a person in your picture; but did you know there are just as many ways to get rid of it using Photoshop?

Until CS2 there was no built-in red eye adjust feature, so us old-school Photoshop users know every trick in the book.

My tried and true method

Open up the photo you want to manipulate. We'll use my friend Moe who always seems to end up with red eye.

Double-click on the background layer in your layers palette (to the right) to turn it into a layer (Image 1). Say ok. Now we want to duplicate that layer so '˜option-drag it above itself in the layers palette or go to the menu on top to '˜Image' and on the pull-down menu go down to '˜Duplicate'. (Image 2) It will ask if you want to duplicate the image, so click '˜ok'. (Image 3)

Images 1, 2 and 3.

Images 1, 2 and 3.

In order to eliminate the red eye manually, we need to turn this layer into a black and white image. To do this go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.  (Image 4) You now have a black and white image as your top layer. (Image 5) We need to make this darker, so that we have a nice dark pupil. To do this go back up to Image > Adjustments and scroll down to Curves.  (Image 6) This will open up a dialogue box. Pull the curve line downward and to the right until the pupil is on the dark side, then say ok. (Image 7). Now duplicate this layer as you did before so we have a dark pupil for each eye (Option-drag).

Images 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Images 4, 5, 6 and 7.

It's best to work large for small things like pupils, so blow your image up and using the circle marquee tool, draw a circle over the pupil. (Image 8). Now we just want to keep this part, so go up to the top menu to '˜Select', then scroll down to '˜Inverse' and using the delete button on your keyboard (or keypad), hit delete. Turn off the layer beneath it, so you can see your new pupil. You probably have a little halo of red left, I do. (Image 9). 

Images 8 and 9.

Images 8 and 9.

To get rid of this let's add a little Gaussian Blur to our new pupil by going to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur. (Image 10) I kept mine at Photoshop's default , which is 0.8. As you can see it blurred the edges just slightly. Mine didn't quite cover the red halo, so I blew up my '˜pupil' by going to Edit > Transform > Scale.  (Image 11). Bring it down to 100% and take a look at it. Looks pretty good, right? Do this again with the other black and white layer you created and now you should have eliminated the red eye in both eyes. (Image 12)

Images 10, 11 and 12.

Images 10, 11 and 12.

This seemed like a lot of work, just to get rid of red eye. It is'¦ BUT'¦ sometimes you just need to revert to this tried and true way, as I'll show you.

Using the built in red eye tool

Ok, lets go back to our original and try this again. I duplicated the layer just because I always like to have an original in case I need it.

Go over to the left hand menu and under the '˜Spot healing brush tool' you'll find the '˜Red Eye tool'. (Image 13)

Use it to draw a marquee selection around the red pupil. (Image 14) You'll see it immediately turns the pupil dark (Image 15). Now do the same thing to the other eye. Note that you may have to do this a few times to achieve your desired result. But after a little hit and miss you should have two eyes with dark pupils. (Image 16)

Images 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Images 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Let's compare

On the left is the image I painstakingly created by turning my image into black and white first. (Image 12) And on the right is the one I just created using the red-eye too, (Image 16).

Which one do you think looks better?

Images 12 and 16.

Images 12 and 16.

Personally, I think the '˜hard way' achieved better results, as the eye to the extreme right in the one the Red Eye Tool created looks a little too dark in relation to the other.

You can fix this though but going back into your image and '˜marqueesing' that left eye'"the weaker black of the two. (Image 17) Copying it, then pasting it in place. Using the '˜Overlay' pull down menu on the right, give it an opacity around 50% and your results should be pretty good. (Image 18).

Images 17 and 18.

Images 17 and 18.

Yet another way to get rid of that pesky red eye

Open up another image of someone shot similarly where they don't have red eye. Blow that image up quite large, so you can marquee the pupils, one at a time. (Image 19) Copy that pupil, and then paste it over the red eye image. (Image 20) Now do the same with the other eye. You should have a pretty good representation. (Image 21) You may want to darken them both a little using the '˜curves' dialogue box and '˜Gaussian blur' them ever so slightly to achieve a more realistic approach. (Image 22)

Images 19, 20, 21 and 22.

Images 19, 20, 21 and 22.

Now just for the sake of a good comparison, let's add that to the two we created before. This new one is the extreme right.

All three methods.

All three methods.

They all work, they all can achieve the results you want; it's just a matter of what feels right to you.

Oh, and if you ever take pictures of pets, you'll get a similar effect, although it will be '˜green eye' instead of red. Your red eye tool won't work in that instance so you'll have to resort to one of the other methods I described. Most likely the first one, since human pupils don't exactly look right on pets. :)

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