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Using The Red Eye Tool Non-Destructively - viewed times

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This photoshop tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop CS2's Red Eye tool Red Eye tool in a non-destructive way. The technique that I will explain is unique because as far as I know it hasn't been discussed in any book/magazine or on any web site.

I will also show you how to use the red eye tool to create a mask that you can use for any kind of red eye correction. The technique itself might be confusing to beginners, but because of the detailed steps and large amount of screenshots it shouldn't be too difficult to end this tutorial with success.

Whether you're planning to use this technique for non-destructive red eye removal is all up to you, but the main purpose of the tutorial is to show you how can use a combination of masks, channels and blending modes to do some fascinating things.


1. Basic red eye removal

For this tutorial we're going to use the following image:

Red Eyes

Save this image to your computer's hard drive by right clicking on it in your browser and selecting Save picture as...
Open this picture in Photoshop.

Duplicate the Background layer by dragging/dropping its thumbnail onto the Create a new layer icon Create a new layer icon:

Duplicate Layer


Select the Red Eye tool Red Eye tool in the tool bar:

Red Eye Tool

With the tool selected use the following settings in the options bar:

Pupil Size: 50%
Darken Amount: 70%:

Rey Eye Tool Options


Make sure that the Background copy layer is the active layer (it will have a dark gray background in the layers palette):

Duplicated layer

Now remove the red in each eye by making a rough selection like this:

Red Eye Selected

Note: sometimes the Red Eye Tool leaves some red behind. In that case just press Ctrl + Z ( Command + Z on the Mac) and try again:

Red Eyes Removed


2. Put red eye correction on a separate layer

We just did a pretty easy red eye correction, but the result is destructive, meaning that it affected our original image.

In order to turn it into a non-destructive edit we need to separate the actual correction.
First we need to change the layer's blending mode; make sure that the Background copy layer is the active layer (it will have a dark gray background in your layers palette)...

Active Layer

... and set the layer's blending mode to Difference:

Blending Mode Difference


Your document window will now show the difference between the two images:



To be able to get a separate layer for what we actually see in our document window (result of two blended layers), we need to merge all visible layer on a separate layer by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E (command + Option + Shift + E on the Mac):

Red Eye Merged

Memorize this shortcut. It's a lot of keys you need to press, but it's a very useful shortcut that you will use more and more over time.

We can now remove the Background copy layer by dragging/dropping it onto the Delete layer icon Delete Layer:

Remove Layer


Continue by renaming Layer 1 to Red Eyes by double clicking on its name:

Reanming Layer


Our document window will now still show the black background with the two red eyes because we haven't set the proper blending mode yet, so set the blending mode of the Red Eyes layer to Difference:

Red Eyes set to Difference


Your document should now show the image with the corrected red eyes:

Red Eyes corrected with separate layer


As a final step you can consider to right click (Control + click on the Mac) on the eye icon Eye in front of the Red Eyes layer and to select Red as the color to mark this layer:

Red Layer

Color coding layers can be useful during photo retouching, because especially with non-destructive editing you quite often end up with lots of layers layers and without proper names or color coding you can easily lose track.

Continue on the next page if you're interested to know how we can take this all a step further.

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