How To Remove Red Eyes With GIMP

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Removing red eyes from photos with Gimp is a straight forward process.  It involves just five steps and allows for a fair amount of flexibility for the photographer.  Let’s jump right in!

Redeye1

That’s me.  Slightly out of focus as usual.  This shot was taken with a simple point and shoot in near darkness. And with plenty of red to remove.  The trick is to not simply replace the red with another color or the result will be too fake.

1) Zoom, zoom, zoom way in (hitting the “+” key) until just the eyes fill the screen like so:

redeye2

2) Click on the Ellipse Select Tool in the Toolbox.  Be sure to select “Feather edges” giving them a radius around 15-20.

redeye3

3) Now draw an ellipse around one eye that encompasses the redness to be removed.  Hold down “Shift” and draw an ellipse around the other eye.  The corners of the ellipses can be click and dragged to adjust sizes as needed.

redeye4

4) From the Menu Bar select “Filters -> Enhance -> Red Eye Removal”.  A dialog box like this will appear.

redeye5

5) Select the amount of removal to suit your desires and then click “OK”

redeye6

Presto!  You’re finished!  The tool works to varying degrees depending on the amount of redness but when a tight selection is made around the eyes, the results are very pleasing while not seeming too fake.  I chose a slightly blurry photo as they are the hardest from which to remove redeye.  A crisper picture will produce better results as there will be more contrast between the red and all other colors.

While there are many different ways to select the area for redeye removal, I chose the Ellipse over the Fuzzy Select Tool as I found the Fuzzy Select tool to be more cumbersome when the redeyes have multiple shades of red.  Some people also suggest selecting a larger space with the Rectangle Select Tool, however this did not work for me as my skin tone was too close to the redeye color and gave poor results.  Feel free to try another selection method and find what works best for you.

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Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Panama, Alaska, Seattle and Los Angeles. He is also the creator of 31 Days to Better Photography & 31 Days of Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

  • now you need to show how gimp can make a photo not blurry?

  • Thanks! Pleased that non-Photoshop users are being considered.

  • Zach

    Eeeewww gimp.
    πŸ˜›

  • DM|ZE

    Thanks, I love having the option of doing things in gimp and it’s nice to see how a photographer can use it to enhance his/her photos. Keep ’em coming!

  • One good way of making these kinds of selections which many people don’t know about is the Quick Mask feature. Click the small rectangle just left of the horizontal scrollbar (Shift-Q) and your picture will be overlaid with a red mask. You can now use the Eraser and normal Painting tools to remove/fill in the red mask. Clicking the button again will turn what you’ve removed/painted on the mask to a selection. Makes it very easy to create and modify simple and complex selections.

  • johnny

    Thank you!

  • There is never too much Gimp tutorials written. Waiting for more. And keep including keyboard shortcuts, please πŸ™‚

  • John

    Excellent article, glad people still help us out with Gimp

  • Andrew

    Great article. This may have been mentioned before but there are some good video tutorials on the GIMP at http://meetthegimp.org/.

  • cathy barr

    Thanks so much for the info, I like to print your advice and then go home and read it at my leisure.
    Never knew you were such a honey. Hope you don’t mind the compliment! Out of focus or not!

  • dhiraj

    i hav not heard abt gimp, can somone plz help

  • GIMP is standard on PCs installed with Debian or Ubuntu, for example. You can download a Windows version of GIMP here: http://www.gimp.org/downloads/. Best of all: it’s completely free!

  • Thanks for this article that i really enjoyed. The use of GIMP is very simple for any photographer. I have noted your steps and will try to solve red eye problem with my photos. I hope it will work fine.

  • Love to see GIMP getting coverage. It’s a fantastic free tool.

  • Alex

    You also can do it online, without Gimp or any similar stuff πŸ˜‰

    http://makeup.pho.to/red-eye-remover/

  • Daniel Mercado

    Nope, just tried it, it said we couldn’t detect any faces. I’ve also tried a few other online ones as well, the only one I have had satisfactory results with is picmonkey. But I still think it could be better. I’ll try gimp when I get a chance.

Some Older Comments

  • Alejandro September 24, 2009 11:03 pm

    Love to see GIMP getting coverage. It's a fantastic free tool.

  • achat pc September 11, 2009 08:12 pm

    Thanks for this article that i really enjoyed. The use of GIMP is very simple for any photographer. I have noted your steps and will try to solve red eye problem with my photos. I hope it will work fine.

  • Christopher September 6, 2009 05:10 am

    GIMP is standard on PCs installed with Debian or Ubuntu, for example. You can download a Windows version of GIMP here: http://www.gimp.org/downloads/. Best of all: it's completely free!

  • dhiraj September 5, 2009 10:20 pm

    i hav not heard abt gimp, can somone plz help

  • cathy barr September 4, 2009 08:07 pm

    Thanks so much for the info, I like to print your advice and then go home and read it at my leisure.
    Never knew you were such a honey. Hope you don't mind the compliment! Out of focus or not!

  • Andrew September 4, 2009 05:26 pm

    Great article. This may have been mentioned before but there are some good video tutorials on the GIMP at http://meetthegimp.org/.

  • John September 3, 2009 10:46 am

    Excellent article, glad people still help us out with Gimp

  • Dobert September 3, 2009 04:56 am

    There is never too much Gimp tutorials written. Waiting for more. And keep including keyboard shortcuts, please :)

  • johnny September 3, 2009 04:28 am

    Thank you!

  • Ferry Boender September 2, 2009 03:11 am

    One good way of making these kinds of selections which many people don't know about is the Quick Mask feature. Click the small rectangle just left of the horizontal scrollbar (Shift-Q) and your picture will be overlaid with a red mask. You can now use the Eraser and normal Painting tools to remove/fill in the red mask. Clicking the button again will turn what you've removed/painted on the mask to a selection. Makes it very easy to create and modify simple and complex selections.

  • DM|ZE September 1, 2009 10:43 am

    Thanks, I love having the option of doing things in gimp and it's nice to see how a photographer can use it to enhance his/her photos. Keep 'em coming!

  • Zach September 1, 2009 08:41 am

    Eeeewww gimp.
    :-P

  • Steven Lilley September 1, 2009 07:34 am

    Thanks! Pleased that non-Photoshop users are being considered.

  • nixter September 1, 2009 07:32 am

    now you need to show how gimp can make a photo not blurry?

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