Photography Information

Getting Rid of Red Eye

The photos you took of the party are really great - except for one thing: "red eye" makes everyone look like extras from a low budget horror movie! Red eye can be a real problem if you're taking photos with a flash. It's caused by the reaction of light from the flash on the inner workings of your eye. Pictures of animals (especially cats) can suffer from a similar condition know as "pet eye".

Photoshop offers a solution to this problem, and while it can't make things look exactly the way they should have been, it can make the people (or pets) in your pictures look less "possessed".

The first thing to do is upload your photos into your computer, or scan them in if you're working from prints, then follow these simple steps.

1. To keep your original safe, make a copy of it by going to Image > Duplicate. Rename the copy if you wish, then close the original.

2. Open a duplicate window of the same image. Do this by going to Window > Documents > New Window in Photoshop 7, or View > New View in Photoshop 6 or earlier. Then zoom in on one of the windows so that an eye fills the window. Set the other window's magnification to 100%. Arrange the windows so you can see them both at the same time. This will enable you to work in close-up, but still see what the finished picture will look like. As it is the same picture in both windows, the 100% view will be updated automatically in real time.

3. Create a new layer.

4. Use the Eyedropper Tool to pick a colour from the iris of the eye - this will be fairly grey, with just a hint of the eye colour. Take the sample from as near to the red area as you can without picking up any of the reddish tint.

5. In the new layer, paint over the red area with this colour. Try various tools (brushes, pencils, Paint Bucket Tool, etc.) to achieve the desired effect. You'll have to experiment and see which one works best for you on each particular picture - a lot will depend on the photo's resolution. Be careful to avoid the "white of the eye" on pictures of people. Do small amounts at a time, that way you can easily undo anything that doesn't look right. If you paint over the pupil, use the Art History Brush to expose it again, or the Burn Tool to paint it in if it was obscured in the first place.

6. Go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and give the layer a blur of one or two pixels to soften the edges.

7. Now set the layer blend mode to saturation. If this makes the eye look too dull or grey, duplicate the layer and change the blend mode of this new layer to Hue. This should put some of the colour back. If the colour looks too strong, change the opacity of the Hue layer until it looks right.

8. When you're happy with the results, merge the layers down, save your work, and start again with the next eye.

Shaun Pearce is a writer and video maker. His latest production "Photoshop Master" shows you how to get the most from Photoshop, and can be downloaded from

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