How to Reduce Red-Eye in Adobe Photoshop

Here's two proven and tried methods of removing red-eye from digital photos using Adobe Photoshop.
Published: May 30, 2007
Author: Stacy Reed
This is a tip I learned in college that has saved me a lot of time and usually produces great results:

  1. Open the image with Adobe Photoshop
  2. As a precaution, go to Image > Duplicate and close the original.
  3. Zoom into the eye area
  4. Choose the burn tool. Range should be set to midtones. Set the exposure to about 90% and adjust the size so that the diameter is just inside the border of the pupil.

  5. Hold it there and click about 3 or 4 times until the red becomes a shade of black. Presto! If the highlights need lightening, use the appropriately sized dodge tool. That's all there is to it!

While I suggest trying that method first because it's easiest, it certainly doesn't work every time, especially when the red-eye exceeds the boundaries of the pupil. In those cases, you should try this popular technique:

  1. With the duplicate image open, create a new layer and set the layer's blend mode to Saturation
  2. Select color from the iris of the eye using the eyedropper tool. It's usually a mottled shade of gray.
  3. Choose the brush tool, adjust the hardness settings to 50% or so and paint over the red part of the eye on the new layer, but do not paint into the whites of the eyes or the eyelids. Use the eraser tool to clean up your edges if you need to.
  4. If it looks a little too gray or flat, duplicate the saturation layer and change it's blend mode to Hue. If you think the color is too bold, lower that layer's opacity to about 50% and see if that helps. Adjust accordingly.
  5. Finally, go to Layer > Flatten (to merge all layers) and save the image.

Yep, I'll take credit for the two goofy kids in the pictures! Hope you've found this tutorial helpful. If you have, please pass it along!

About Stacy Reed

Stacy Reed is Tucows' resident software librarian and editor. She has been reviewing PC and mobile software as well as web services for over a decade. Helping developers improve and promote their products is only one of her areas of expertise. Stacy is also an advocate for Open Source, Creative Commons and freeware, taking special interest in educational resources, social media, cloud sharing, and mobile technology.

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