How To Remove Red Eye in Photoshop Manually

Removing Red Eye Manually Gives You More Control Over the Results

Red Eye Removal in Photoshop
Red Eye Removal in Photoshop | View Larger. © S. Chastain

It's the perfect picture ... except it's ruined by those unsightly, glowing red eyes from the camera's flash. It's happened to all of us, and – fortunately – it's fairly easy to correct. Follow these simple steps to remove red eye from your photos using any version of Photoshop, including Photoshop LE and Photoshop Elements.

The Red Eye Tools 

Photoshop CC replaced the CS "Creative Suite" series in 2013.

CS6 was the last of the CS version –there was no CS7. Instead, Photoshop CC, "Creative Cloud," took over. Photoshop CS6 is still available, but it hasn't been updated since its original release. 

Go to the last tool on the Healing Brush toolbar to find the red eye tool if you're using Photoshop CC. Photoshop versions CS2 through CS6 have similar dedicated one-click red eye tools, but the method explained here works in these older Photoshop versions or when you want more control over the correction. You can try the red eye tool first, then use this method of red eye correction if you're not getting the results you want.

Removing Red Eye Manually 

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Open the image.
  2. Go to Image > Duplicate and close the original.
  3. Open a duplicate window of the same image using one of these three methods: Windows > Arrange > New Window for <filename>, or Windows > Documents > New Window, or in Photoshop 6 or earlier, View > New View. 
  1. Zoom one of the windows so the eyes are as large as possible. Set the other window view to 100 percent. 
  2. Arrange the two windows so you can see both the zoomed view and the 100-percent view at the same time.
  3. Create a new layer.
  4. Use the eyedropper to pick up a color from the iris of the eye. It should be a fairly gray tint with a hint of the eye's true color.
  1. Paint over the red part of the eye on the new layer. Be careful not to paint over the eyelids.
  2. Go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian and give the image about a 1 pixel blur to soften the edges.
  3. Set the layer blend mode to Saturation. This will take the red out without removing the highlights, but in many cases it leaves the eyes too gray and hollow-looking. If that's the case, duplicate the saturation layer and change the blend mode to Hue. That should put some color back in while still preserving the highlights.
  4. If the color is too strong after adding a Hue layer, lower the opacity of the Hue layer.
  5. You can merge the extra layers down when you're happy with the results.

Tips:

  • Use the burn tool if you want to darken the pupil area. It should only take a couple of taps to darken the pupils.
  • Use the eraser tool to clean up any overspray from painting outside the iris before merging your layers. 
  • This technique works in Photoshop 4 and up, including Photoshop LE and Photoshop Elements.