Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual

Creating Show-Stopping Eyes in Photoshop CS5

Adapted from Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual (O'Reilly)

By Lesa Snider

In what follows you’ll learn how to enhance and whiten eyes, fix red eye a bazillion different ways, and even get the scoop on fixing your furry friends’ eyes.

Enhancing Eyes

A quick and painless way to make eyes stand out and look sultry is to lighten them by changing their blend mode to Screen. This technique enhances the iris and brightens the white bits at the same time, as the figure below shows. To achieve this effect without duplicating the original layer (which increases your file’s size), just use an empty Adjustment layer.

If you use an empty Adjustment layer set to Screen mode, you can add a whole new dimension to your subject’s eyes. (The original image is at left and the adjusted image is on the right.) The cool thing about this technique is that it enhances the iris and the white part simultaneously.

Here’s how to quickly enhance eyes:

  1. Pop open a photo and add an empty Adjustment layer.
    Click the half-black/half-white circle at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Levels from the menu. When the Adjustments panel opens, click the double arrows at its top right or the dark gray bar at the top of the panel to close it (you don’t need to actually make a levels adjustment).
  2. Set the Adjustment layer’s blend mode to Screen.
    At the top left of the Layers panel, use the pop-up menu to change the blend mode to Screen. When you do, Photoshop makes your whole photo way too light, but don’t panic—you’ll fix it in the next step.
  3. Fill the Adjustment layer’s mask with black.
    Peek in your Layers panel and make sure the Adjustment layer’s mask is selected (it should have a tiny black outline around it). To hide the over-lightening that happened in the previous step, choose Edit > Fill, pick Black from the Use pop-up menu, and then click OK.
  4. Grab the Brush tool and set the foreground color chip to white.
    Press B to grab the Brush tool and then glance at the color chips at the bottom of the Tools panel. If white’s on top, you’re good to go; if it’s not, press D to set the chips to black and white and then press X until white is on top. Now you’re ready to paint a hole through the mask so the lightening will show through only on your subject’s eyes.
  5. Paint the eye area.
    Mouse over to your image and paint the eyeballs. If you mess up, just press X to flip-flop the color chips and paint with black.
  6. Duplicate the Adjustment layer.
    Once you’ve got the mask just right, you can intensify the effect by duplicating the Adjustment layer. Press Command-J (Ctrl+J on a PC) to duplicate the layer and lower the duplicate’s opacity to about 50 percent.
  7. Save the image as a PSD file.

Ta-da! This technique makes a galactic difference, and your subject’s eyes will pop off the page.

Fixing Red Eye

One of the most annoying things about taking photos with a flash is the creepy red eyes it can give your subjects. Photoshop’s Red Eye tool does a good job on most cases of red eye, though sometimes you’ll encounter a really stubborn case that just refuses to go away. That’s why it’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeve, including stealing pupils from another channel, using the Color Replacement tool, creating a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer, or fixing ’em in Camera Raw. This section explains all those options.

The Red Eye Tool
Oh, man, if only all of Photoshop’s tools were as easy to use as this one! The Red Eye tool is part of the Healing Brush toolset (it looks like an eye with a plus sign next to it). Just grab the tool, mouse over to your document, and draw a box around the eye, as shown in the next figure, top. As soon as you let go of your mouse button, Photoshop hunts for the red inside the box and makes it black. That’s all there is to it!

Tip: If this tool doesn’t zap the red-eye completely on the first attempt, try pressing Command-Z (Ctrl+Z on a PC) to undo it and increase the Pupil Size and Darken Amount settings in the Options bar and then have another go at it.

Contrary to what you might think, it’s better to draw a box around the whole eyeball rather than just around the pupil. For some odd reason, the smaller the box, the less effective the Red Eye tool is.

Workaround Workshop: Stealing Pupils from Channels
Why bother with all this red-eye fixing mumbo jumbo when you’ve got perfectly good black pupils in your Channels panel? (Since Photoshop doesn’t display channels in color, the pupils aren’t red.) There’s certainly no law saying you can’t pop into your image’s channels and snatch the pupils from there. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open your Channels panel by clicking its icon in the panel dock or by choosing Window > Channels. Then stroll through the channels by clicking each one or by pressing Command-3, 4, 5 (Ctrl+3, 4, 5) to find the channel where the pupils are darkest (it’s most likely the Green channel). If you’re in CMYK mode, you’ve got one extra channel to look at, which you can see by pressing Command-6 (Ctrl+6).
  2. Grab the Elliptical Marquee tool and draw a selection that’s slightly larger than the pupil in one eye. Then press and hold the Shift key to draw a selection around the other pupil.
  3. Ctrl-click (right-click) in one of the selections (it doesn’t matter which one) and choose Feather from the resulting shortcut menu. In the resulting dialog box, enter 1 in the Feather Radius field and then click OK.
  4. Copy the pupils by pressing Command-C (Ctrl+C on a PC) and then turn the composite channel back on by pressing Command-2 (Ctrl-2).
  5. Open your Layers panel and create a new layer for the pupils: Click the “Create a new layer” button at the bottom of the panel, name the layer New Pupils, and then place it above the photo layer.
  6. Paste the pupils onto the new layer by pressing Command-V (Ctrl+V). Poof—you’re done! Your subject should look much less demonic now.


The Color Replacement Tool
Another option for getting rid of super-stubborn red eye is the Color Replacement tool. If you choose black as your foreground color chip, you can use this tool to replace the red with black. But because this tool is destructive (and because there’s no way of knowing what kind of job it’ll do), it’s best to select the eyes and jump them onto their own layer first. Here’s what you do:

  1. Select the eyes and copy them onto another layer.
    Using the Lasso tool, draw a rough selection around both eyes (grab the whole eye, not just the pupil) and then press Command-J (Ctr+J on a PC) to jump the eyes onto their own layer. That way, if this technique goes south, you can toss this layer and start over.
  2. Select the Color Replacement tool from the Tools panel.
    It’s hiding in the Brush toolset, and it looks like a brush with a tiny curved arrow pointing to a black square (the square is supposed to represent your foreground color chip). You can press Shift-B repeatedly to cycle through this toolset.
  3. Set your foreground color chip to black.
    Press D to set your color chips to black and white, and then press X until black hops on top. Alternatively, you can set the new color by Option-clicking (Alt-clicking on a PC) an eyelash or other black part of the eye.
  4. In the Options bar, set the Mode field to Hue, the Limits field to Contiguous, and the Tolerance field to around 30 percent.
    Choosing the Hue blend mode means you’re replacing color without altering its brightness. The Contiguous setting tells Photoshop to replace only the red pixels that are clustered in one spot and not separated by other colors. The Tolerance setting determines how picky the tool is: lower numbers make the tool pickier; higher numbers result in a color-replacing free-for-all.
  5. Paint the red away.
    You’ll want to use a small brush for this maneuver. Press the left bracket key ([) to cycle down in brush size, and the right bracket key (]) to cycle up, or Ctrl-Option-drag (Alt+right-click+drag on a PC) to the left or right to decrease or increase your brush size. When you’ve got a size that looks good, mouse over to the pupils and paint over the red, being careful to touch only the red with your cursor’s crosshair.
  6. When you’re finished painting, use the Eraser tool or a layer mask to clean up the area just outside the pupil, if necessary.
    If you end up with a little black outside the pupil, you can use the Eraser tool (see Appendix D, online here) to fix it because you’ll erase to the original layer below. Press E to select the Eraser and carefully paint away any extra black pixels. You can also add a layer mask to the eye layer and paint with black to hide the excess black.
  7. Save your document as a PSD file and call it a day.

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers
Yet another option for fixing red eye is to zap the red with a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer. Select the red eyes with the Lasso tool, click the half-black/half-white circle at the bottom of your Layers panel, and then choose Hue/Saturation from the pop-up menu. When the Adjustments panel opens, adjust the sliders until the red eye leaves the building.

The Sponge Tool
As a last resort, you can use the Sponge tool to desaturate (remove) color from the pupils. The Sponge tool looks—not surprisingly—like a sponge, and it’s part of the Dodge toolset. Though you can use this tool to desaturate or saturate an image, it’s set to desaturate (which is what you want when you’re zapping red eye) until you change it. After you grab the Sponge tool, head up to the Options bar and change the Flow field to 100 percent or you’ll be painting for days (it’s set at 50 percent originally). Finally, mouse over to your image and paint over the red area repeatedly until it turns almost black. This technique takes a while, but it’s guaranteed to work…eventually.

Fixing Red Eye in Camera Raw
Camera Raw’s Red Eye Removal tool looks and works the same as Photoshop’s. It’s handy to have this ability in Camera Raw because, if you’re shooting in Raw format and you don’t need to do any other editing in Photoshop, you don’t have switch programs just to fix red eyes. After you open an image in Camera Raw, press E to grab the Red Eye Removal tool. Then simply draw a box around the eyeball, as shown below, and let go of your mouse button.

When you’re finished using the Red Eye tool in Camera Raw, you’ll see a black-and-white circle around the pupil, letting you know that Raw made the red-eye fix. Just switch to another tool and the box disappears. Click Done to save your changes and close the Camera Raw window.

Fixing Animal White Eye

Okay, technically animals aren’t people—though to some folks (your author included) they might as well be. Our furry friends have a version of red eye, too; it’s called white eye, and it can ruin their photos, too. Actually, white eye is more challenging to fix than red eye because there aren’t any pixels in the eye left to work with—the pupils turn solid white. The Red Eye tool won’t work because the pupils aren’t red, and the Color Replacement tool won’t work because there’s no color to replace. The solution is to select the pupil and fill it with black, and then add a couple of well-placed glints (tiny light reflections) to make the new pupils look real (see below).

Selecting the blown-out pupils (top), adding some black paint, and topping it off with two flicks of a white brush to add a glint transforms Miss Abbey from devil dog to angel in minutes.

Here’s how to fix your furry friend’s eyes:

  1. Open the image and select the white pupils.
    Since you’re selecting by color, you can use either the Magic Wand or the Quick Selection tool: Just click one pupil and then Shift-click the other. You can also select them with the Elliptical Marquee: Draw a selection around the first pupil and then press and hold Shift while you draw a circle around the second pupil. While you’re holding the mouse button down, you can press and hold the space bar to move the selection around as you’re drawing it.
  2. Feather the selection with Refine Edge.
    Once you’ve got marching ants, click the Option bar’s Refine Edge button bar and make sure the resulting dialog box’s Feather field is set to one pixel and the Smooth field is set to one (otherwise the edges will be too soft). To make sure you get all the white bits, you might expand your selection by 10 to 20 percent or so by dragging the Contract/Expand slider to the right. When you’re finished tweaking your selection, click OK.
    Note: Remember, the settings in the Refine Edge dialog box are sticky—they reflect the last settings you used. So take a second to make sure they’re all set to zero except for the ones mentioned here.
  3. Create a new layer named New Pupils.
    Click the “Create a new layer” button at the bottom of the Layers panel, name the layer, and make sure it’s at the top of the layers stack.
  4. Fill the selection with black.
    To recreate the lost pupil, press D to set your color chips to black and white and then press X until black is on top. Next, press Option-Delete (Alt+Backspace on a PC) to fill your selection with black. If the color doesn’t seem to reach the edges of your selection (which can happen if you feathered or smoothed your edges a little too much in step 2), fill it again by pressing Option-Delete (Alt+Backspace). Once you’ve filled the pupils with color, you can get rid of the marching ants by pressing Command-D (Ctrl+D) to deselect.
  5. Create another new layer and name it Glint.
    You’ll want to soften the glints you’re about to create by lowering layer opacity, so you need to put the glints on their own layer.
  6. Grab the Brush tool and set your foreground color chip to white.
    Press X to flip-flop color chips and, with a very small brush (10 pixels or so), click once in the left eye to add a glint to mimic the way light reflects off eyes (every eye has one). Next, click in the exact same spot in the right eye to add a sister glint. Then lower the glint layer’s opacity to about 75 percent.
  7. Save your document as a PSD file.

Pat yourself on the back for salvaging such a great shot of your pet.

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Excerpted from Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider. ISBN 1-4493-8170-7. Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved. Used with permission.