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The Big Fixx: digital-camera image probl... > Removing Red Eye and Recoloring the ...

Removing Red Eye and Recoloring the Eye

This technique is a little more complicated (not hard; it just has a few more steps), but the result is more professional because you’re not just going to remove the red eye (like in the previous “instant red-eye removal” trick) and replace it with the more pleasing “gray eye.” Instead, we’re going to restore the eye to its original color.

Step One.
Open a photo where the subject has red eye.


Step Two.
Zoom in close on one of the eyes using the Zoom tool (the Magnifying Glass tool). Note: You might not want to do this late at night if you’re home alone, because seeing a huge scary eye on your screen can really give you the willies.

Step Three.
Press the “w” key to switch to the Magic Wand tool, and click within the red area of one of the eyes. One click may select all the red in the eye, but if it doesn’t, hold the Shift key and click the Magic Wand again in an area of red that wasn’t selected (holding the Shift key lets you add to your current selection). If the Magic Wand selects too much, go up to the Options Bar, lower the Threshold number, and try again. After one eye’s red area is selected, scroll over to the other eye, hold the Shift key, and select it the same way so that both red-eye areas are selected.

Step Four.
Now, press Shift-Command-U (PC: Shift-Control-U) to desaturate all the color from these selected red areas, leaving the eyes looking pretty gray. It’s better than red, but you might want to touch it up a bit, and make it a bit darker, which we’ll do in the next step.

Step Five.
Press the “d” key to set your Foreground color to black. Get the Brush tool and choose a small, soft-edged brush; then, up in the Options Bar, lower the Opacity setting to 20% (and make sure that the Mode is set to Normal).

Step Six.
Zoom out a bit by pressing Command-–(the minus sign) (PC: Control-–) until you can see both eyes onscreen. Paint just a couple of quick strokes over the selected areas of the eye to darken them, but stop before they turn completely black—you just want a good dark gray. You don’t have to worry about painting into other areas of the eye, because your selection should still be in place while you’re painting.

Step Seven.
Once the eyes look dark gray, you can deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D). Press the “L” key to switch to the Lasso tool, and draw a loose selection around the entire iris of the left eye (as shown). The keyword here is loose—stay well outside the iris itself, and don’t try to make a precise selection. Selecting the eyelids, eyelashes, etc. will not create a problem. Hold the Shift key and select the right eye in the same fashion.

Step Eight.
After you have a loose selection around both irises, press Command-J (PC: Control-J) to put a copy of the eyes up on their own layer above the Background, as Layer 1.

Step Nine.
While you’re on this “eyes” layer, go under the Image menu, under Adjustments, and choose Hue/Saturation. In the dialog, click on the Colorize check box (in the bottom-right corner). Now you can choose the color you’d like for the eye by moving the Hue slider. In this case, we’re going to colorize the iris blue. Don’t worry about the color being too intense at this point—we can totally control that later—so if you want blue eyes, choose a deep blue and we’ll dial in the exact blue later. Click OK to apply the blue to the irises and the area around them as well. (Don’t let it freak you out that other areas right around the iris appear blue. We’ll fix that in the next step.)

Step Ten.
Press the “e” key to switch to the Eraser tool, make sure that in the Options bar, the Mode is set to Brush, choose a hard-edged brush, and then erase the extra areas around the iris from your loose selection. This sounds much harder than it is—it’s actually very easy—just erase everything but the blue iris. Don’t forget to erase over the whites of the person’s eyes. Remember, the eyes are on their own layer, so you can’t accidentally damage any other parts of the photo.

Step Eleven.
If the eye color seems too intense (and chances are, it does), we can lower the intensity in the Layers palette by simply lowering the Opacity slider until the eyes look natural.

Step Twelve.
To finish the red-eye correction and recolor, press Command-E (PC: Control-E) to merge the colored eye layer with the Background layer, completing the repair.

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