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Digital red eye removal

Digital red eye removal - Peter Bargh of ePHOTOzine shows you how to use your computer and image editing software to remove red-eye effect

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Category : Portraits and People
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Words and pictures Peter Bargh

If you've ever used your camera indoors to photograph friends, relatives or colleagues you will most likely have come across the problem of red-eye. This is caused by using a camera with a built in flash, which makes the pupils of the eyes appear with a demonic red glow. On some occasions this is worse than others and although cameras now have red eye reduction modes to help, the problem doesn't always go away. Fortunately, if you have access to a computer you can remove the effect completely using image-editing software. Some methods are easier than others, but without doubt the finest is currently available when using Paint Shop Pro 7 which has a superb auto mode accessed from the Effects menu

1 Go toEffects>EnhancePhoto>Redeye Removal.

2 From here you see a dialogue box with a before (left) and after (right) window and a selection of controls to set.

3 Click in the after window and move the picture using your mouse by holding down and dragging. Adjust so that the eye is in the centre of the screen. You will notice this also moves the picture in the before window.

4 Click on the little magnifier symbol below the previews to make the eye fill the frame and easier to edit.

5 In the before window click and drag to create a circle and make this roughly the size of the iris including pupil. Notice how an eye appears on the other picture in the same position. This is because you are working in Auto Human Eye mode where a digital eye is created.


You can also choose Auto Animal Eye (they suffer too), Freehand or Point to point pupil modes.

6 Now click in the square marquee surrounding the circle you have created in the before window and drag it so the circle goes over the eye. Notice the eye on the right is already staring to look natural.

7 You now have a range of adjustments to make to make the pupil look like it belongs to the person in the photo.

Here's what each adjustment does
Pupil lightness makes the pupil black when the slider is dragged to the left and light when it's dragged to the right. A setting of around 15 is about right.  Glint lightness makes the tiny white catch lights that appear when flash or sunlight sparkle in the eye brighter. A 30 to 40 setting is natural.

Glint size Option to set the catch light so it's bigger 50 or smaller 1. Set this to around 10 for a realistic size. You can set the catch light to appear in the centre of the eye, but the automatic positioning is more natural so leave this unchecked.

The other side of the dialogue box has options to change the colour of the pupil with Aqua, Blue, Brown, Grey, Green and Violet appearing in the drop down menu and nine shades available in each by clicking on the eye picture. Here's your opportunity to play god.

Finally setting the Feather to 1 so that the new eye blends naturally with its background, Blur at 0 and Iris size adjusts the area it takes within the pupil. A setting of 2 was about right for our example.

When you're happy click okay and the effect is applied.

Redeye reduction using Photoshop Elements
Of course, not everyone uses Paint Shop Pro with its fancy auto reduction mode so what if you use another program? In Photoshop Elements you have access to a red eye reduction tool from the tool bar. This brush is used to paint a new colour over an existing one. You simply choose the brush size and the colour you want the pupil to be and paint over the pupil. It does the job really well but does not have anywhere near the same amount of control that you find in Paint Shop Pro.

1 First open up the photograph and enlarge the area that you want to edit.

2 Select the redeye reduction tool from the tool bar.

3 Select the various tool controls from the menu strip that runs along the top of the page. From here choose a suitable brush size. The current colour will change as you move you cursor over the eye. The replacement colour is the colour you want the pupil to be. Choose a dark shade of blue, brown or grey for best results. To do this click in the colour square to bring up the colour picker and select the desired colour. Choose First Click from the Sampling drop down menu to ensure that as you brush the only pixels affected will be ones with similar properties to the one that you first clicked on.


You can adjust the tolerance setting, which affects the range of pixels that will change as you paint. The top is set to a tolerance of 5. Notice how only a few pixels have gone black.

The middle picture is at a 100% tolerance and now brushing colours all the pink skin areas too.

The preferred image is the bottom one with a tolerance set to 30 pixels to ensure most of the red is selected but the skin remains unaltered.


Redeye reduction using PhotoSuite 4
PhotoSuite 4 works in the opposite way to elements by extracting the red from the eye rather than painting it in.

1 Select Prepare from the Navigation Bar.

2 Select Touchup from the Activity Panel on the left. Then select Remove Red Eye. Notice the Activity Panel now changes to provide step-by-step instructions, which you can follow with ease. Not all programs do the job so easily. If you have a more advanced program such as Photoshop you can do anything that an automated program can do but you need to understand which tools to use for the best results.

Redeye reduction using Photoshop
In Photoshop one of the easiest methods is to use the Replace Colour mode:

1 To ensure you don't affect any other areas of the picture, first use the Rectangular marquee tool to make a selection around the eye. Hold down the shift key and make a similar selection around the other eye.

2 SelectImage>Adjust>Replace colour, click on the selection option below the preview picture. This converts the preview to a greyscale image showing the area you selected as white. Adjust the fuzziness setting to about 30.

3 Select the eyedropper tool and click on the pupil in the preview window or on the actual image to make a selection.

4 Adjust the hue saturation sliders to obtain a colour that you like and watch it change the selected pixels in the preview.

5 Now either adjust the tolerance or use the +/- eyedropper so add or take away from the selection. Watch the image colour change as you do this.

6 When you have the most accurate colour replacement, click okay to apply this to the photo.

You can also do more advanced replacement using a feathered elliptical marquee and hue saturation controls but that's for more advanced users and will be covered in a future technique.

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