How to Fix Pet Eye in Your Photos

01
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Fixing Pet Eye - Introduction

Fix Pete Eye
This tutorial shows an easy fix for the glowing white or green pet eyes you often get when taking photos of animals with camera flash. © S. Chastain

Most photo editing software these days has special tools for quickly and easily removing red eye from your photos. But often, these red eye tools don't work on "pet eye" in your dog and cat photos. Pet eye is the glowing white, green, red, or yellow eye reflections that you often get when taking photos of pets or other animals in low light conditions when a camera flash is used. Because pet eye is not always red, the automatic red eye tools sometimes don't work well — if at all.

This tutorial shows you a fairly easy way to fix the pet eye problem simply by painting over the problem part of the eye in your photo-editing software. You can follow this tutorial using any software that supports layers, though I am using Photoshop Elements for these screen shots. You should have some basic familiarity with your software's paintbrush and layer features for working this tutorial.

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Fixing Pet Eye - Practice Image

'Pet Eye' Photo Caused by Using Flash
Feel free to copy the picture here to use for practice as you follow along.

My dog Drifter, and my sister's cats, Shadow and Simon, have agreed to help us out with this tutorial. Feel free to copy the picture here to use for practice as you follow along.

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Fixing Pet Eye - Setting the Paintbrush Options

Setting the Paintbrush Options

Start by opening your image and zooming in on the pet eye area.

Create a new, empty layer in your document.

Activate your software's paintbrush tool. Set the brush to a medium-soft edge and a size slightly larger than the problem pet eye area.

Set your paint (foreground) color to black.

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Fixing Pet Eye - Paint Over the Bad Pupil

Painting Over the Bad Pupil

Click on each eye to paint over the pet eye reflections. You may need to click a few times with the paintbrush to cover the entire problem area.

At this point the eye will look strange because there is no "glint" of light reflection in the eye. We will add back the glint next.

05
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Fixing Pet Eye - Hide the Painted Layer Temporarily

Hide the Painted Layer Temporarily

Temporarily hide the layer where you painted black over the eye in the last step. In Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, you can do this by clicking the eye icon next to the layer in the layers palette. Other software should have a similar method for hiding a layer temporarily.

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Fixing Pet Eye - Painting a New 'Glint' in the Eye

Painting a New 'Glint' in the Eye

Set your paintbrush to a very small, hard brush. Usually you should not need it more than 3-5 pixels.

Set your paint color to white.

Create a new, empty layer above all other layers in your document.

With the painted layer hidden, you should be able to see the original photo. Make note of where the glints appear in the original photo and click once with the paintbrush directly over each eye glint in the original.

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Fixing Pet Eye - The Finished Result (Dog Example)

The Finished Result (Dog Example)

Now unhide the blank paint layer, and you should have a much better-looking pet eye!

Keep reading for tips on dealing with cat eyes and other common problems.

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Fixing Pet Eye - Dealing with Glint Problems

Dealing with Glint Problems

In some cases, the pet eye is so bad that you won't be able to find the original eye glints. You'll have to make a best guess as to where they should be based on the direction of the light and how other reflections appear in the photo. Just remember to keep both eye glints in relation to each other for both eyes.

If you find it doesn't look natural, you can always clear the layer, and keep trying.

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Fixing Pet Eye - Dealing with Elliptical Cat Pupils

Dealing with Elliptical Cat Pupils

When you are dealing with the elliptical pupil of a cat's eye, you may need adjust your brush to more of an elliptical shape.

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Fixing Pet Eye - The Finished Result (Cat Example)

The Finished Result (Cat Example)

This photo took a little more effort to get just right, but basic technique is the same and the results are a definite improvement.

In this example I had to modify the shape of my brush and paint carefully. Then I used the eraser tool to clean up the black paint that went outside of the eye area onto the cat's fur. I used a slight amount of Gaussian blur on the black paint layer to blend the pupil into the iris. I also had to guess at the glint location. When in doubt, the center of the eye is a good bet!