Photoshop: Red Eye Fix for Difficult Cases in People and Pets - Digital Photography School

Photoshop: Red Eye Fix for Difficult Cases in People and Pets

Recent versions of Photoshop have an automatic Red Eye Removal tool. But what do you do when that tool fails as it does all too often with people, and always with pets?

Here’s one technique that I like to use. I’m going to illustrate it on a pet photo featuring “green eye”, but the same trick works on people with red eye, too.

steele-redeye-1.jpg

1. Zoom in on the eye of your subject

steele-redeye-2.jpg

2. Get your Paintbrush (Keyboard shortcut B)

3. Set your foreground color to black

steele-redeye-3.jpg

4. In the options bar, set the brush mode to Color, opacity 100%

steele-redeye-4.jpg

By painting with the brush in this mode, we will desaturate the area that we paint.

5. Using a small brush with a medium-soft edge, paint the mis-colored part of the eye to desaturate it.

steele-redeye-5.jpg

Since all we are doing is desaturating, this leaves the highlight and other gradients that reveal the shape of the eye intact. If we simply painted black we would destroy these details that make the eye look realistic.

After desaturating, all we need to do is darken the pupil.

6. Get the Burn tool

steele-redeye-6.jpg

7. In the options bar, select Midtones, Exposure 20%

steele-redeye-7.jpg

8. Paint gradually in the pupil to burn (darken) the Midtones

steele-redeye-8.jpg

By restricting our burn to the Midtones, we avoid destroying the highlight in the eye or darkening that natural rim around the eye. We only affect the middle gray that was originally colored red or green.

9. Darken the pupil to a reasonably dark gray (not pure black), and you’re done!

steele-redeye-9.jpg

Of course, this technique won’t work in every case, because there are a lot of different types of “red eye” in people and animals, but it’s usually my first go-to method for tough cases.

To see a free video which includes this and several more techniques for difficult cases, visit SteeleTraining.com.

About the Author

: Phil Steele is the founder of SteeleTraining.com where you‚Äôll find free tutorials on photography, Photoshop, Lightroom and more. This article is based on an excerpt from his video training course “Photoshop Basics for Photographers”.

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  • DavidCHR

    Brilliant!

  • http://www.vale-images.co.uk Ceri Vale

    EXCELLENT tip

  • http://www.teaganphotography.com Allison

    Huh…that’s awesome!

  • http://www.yellowdogphotography.com Sara

    Awesome! I shoot my dogs a lot and hate getting “green eye”. It always takes me forever to get the green out and have it look nice. I can’t wait to try out this technique.
    Thanks!

  • John

    Burn the eyes…nice trick!

  • TrentReznor

    This technique is of very limited use. The dog has black eyes, that’s the only condition under which this technique will work. Try this on a person with blue eyes or a Siberian Husky and see where it takes you.

  • DavidCHR

    Trent: The dog in this example actually has brown eyes; not black. This technique is applied to the pupil of the eye (which is always near-black), not the iris, which can be any colour at all without having an impact on the technique.
    Cheers.

  • Greg

    This tip is one I’ll put to much good use! I’ve never been able to fix “green eye” to any satisfaction. Thanks for another valuable article.

  • CG

    The Kodak Picture Kiosks found at retail outlets have an automated pet eye retouch feature that performs this technique without Photoshop.

  • Marla

    Funny…the green tint to the dog’s eyes didn’t bother me. However, seeing how nice the pupils look afterwards is amazing!

    Great technique! Thanks!

  • Janet

    Thanks for this, great timing … I’ve just taken some great shots of a schaunser, but all with green eyes, now I know what to do!

  • http://www.nikijonesphotography.me Niki Jones

    Really great tip thanks. I hate the red eye removal tool!

  • DIANE

    so helpful! Great use of tools!

  • Janet

    Excellent, thank you! Very clear and concise instructions.

  • http://www.canvasartpros.com Jennifer Long

    This is a really helpful tip! I have always had trouble making the eye look realistic after darkening it in with black. Restricting to midtones can help prevent this. Thanks!

  • Era Schaffner

    Brown eyes are very common among asian people but those caucasians with brown eyes are really cute and good looking too. Take for example Leighton Meester, she is really pretty. ;`;.;

    Warm regards http://www.healthmedicinelab.com“>

  • Jeremy

    Really helpful, thank you ! Better than the Red-Eye tool for the photo I’m editing. But I think you need to explain a bit more about the desaturation. I found this screenshot to help me (I’m a newbie in Photoshop, that’s why) : http://www.creativepro.com/files/story_images/20060222_fg4.jpg

    Thank you again for the tips !

  • http://www.tmblast.com Greg Kristan

    That is interesting that you went with the color tool to desatrate the color of the eye for the dog. That was something I did not think of. Usually I just select the eye and create it as a new layer to then use the red eye tool with a focus on the curve tool and a focus on the opacity meter

    http://www.tmblast.com/blog/photoshop/red-eye-removal-photoshop/

    Can you explain what you did in step 6 with the Burn Tool? Do you go around the edges of the eye to achieve this?

Some older comments

  • Jeremy

    July 29, 2013 11:59 pm

    Really helpful, thank you ! Better than the Red-Eye tool for the photo I'm editing. But I think you need to explain a bit more about the desaturation. I found this screenshot to help me (I'm a newbie in Photoshop, that's why) : http://www.creativepro.com/files/story_images/20060222_fg4.jpg

    Thank you again for the tips !

  • Era Schaffner

    July 31, 2012 08:12 pm

    Brown eyes are very common among asian people but those caucasians with brown eyes are really cute and good looking too. Take for example Leighton Meester, she is really pretty. ;`;.;

    Warm regards http://www.healthmedicinelab.com">

  • Jennifer Long

    May 25, 2011 07:41 am

    This is a really helpful tip! I have always had trouble making the eye look realistic after darkening it in with black. Restricting to midtones can help prevent this. Thanks!

  • Janet

    April 27, 2011 02:29 pm

    Excellent, thank you! Very clear and concise instructions.

  • DIANE

    April 12, 2011 11:17 pm

    so helpful! Great use of tools!

  • Niki Jones

    April 8, 2011 07:47 pm

    Really great tip thanks. I hate the red eye removal tool!

  • Janet

    April 8, 2011 09:34 am

    Thanks for this, great timing ... I've just taken some great shots of a schaunser, but all with green eyes, now I know what to do!

  • Marla

    April 8, 2011 05:50 am

    Funny...the green tint to the dog's eyes didn't bother me. However, seeing how nice the pupils look afterwards is amazing!

    Great technique! Thanks!

  • CG

    April 8, 2011 12:37 am

    The Kodak Picture Kiosks found at retail outlets have an automated pet eye retouch feature that performs this technique without Photoshop.

  • Greg

    April 7, 2011 10:40 pm

    This tip is one I'll put to much good use! I've never been able to fix "green eye" to any satisfaction. Thanks for another valuable article.

  • DavidCHR

    April 7, 2011 07:50 pm

    Trent: The dog in this example actually has brown eyes; not black. This technique is applied to the pupil of the eye (which is always near-black), not the iris, which can be any colour at all without having an impact on the technique.
    Cheers.

  • TrentReznor

    April 7, 2011 07:47 pm

    This technique is of very limited use. The dog has black eyes, that's the only condition under which this technique will work. Try this on a person with blue eyes or a Siberian Husky and see where it takes you.

  • John

    April 7, 2011 04:12 pm

    Burn the eyes...nice trick!

  • Sara

    April 7, 2011 04:00 am

    Awesome! I shoot my dogs a lot and hate getting "green eye". It always takes me forever to get the green out and have it look nice. I can't wait to try out this technique.
    Thanks!

  • Allison

    April 7, 2011 12:48 am

    Huh...that's awesome!

  • Ceri Vale

    April 7, 2011 12:43 am

    EXCELLENT tip

  • DavidCHR

    April 7, 2011 12:03 am

    Brilliant!

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