April 24, 2011

Repairing Pet Eyes in Photos


Most of us love to take photos of our family and friends, including the four-legged ones. One of the disappointments is getting red-eye in our people photos and "pet-eye" in pictures of our pets. I say "pet-eye" because the discoloration can be yellow, green, blue or white, but seldom red. In both cases, the discoloration is the result of light from the camera's flash reflecting off the back of the eye and recording in the picture as a color other than dark black.

This presents a challenge when trying to fix the problem later. Nearly every photo editing program has a "red-eye tool" that efficiently removes the demon red with a click or a drag. But these tools don't work on pet-eye, as I'm sure you have discovered. The reason? The tool is programmed to find and replace only the color red, not the variations that appear in animal eyes.

But there is a remedy. The following steps describe how to turn your four-legged family members' eyes back to their adoring darkness using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. (And you can use the technique on red eyes, too!)
  1. Open a pet portrait that shows the "pet eye" effect.
  2. Create a copy to work on.
    1. Choose File>Save As.
    2. Give the copy an understandable name, such as adding “retouch” at the end (e.g. Fido retouch).
    3. Click Save.
  3. Click on the Background layer.
  4. Create a new layer.
    1. Choose Layer > New > Layer
    2. Name it “eyes”.
    3. Click OK.
    4. In the Layers panel, change Normal blend mode to Color.
  5. Choose View > Actual Pixels. Adjust the picture to see the eyes you want to work on.
  6. Press the letter D to make the paint color black.
  7. Select the Brush tool.
    1. Choose a soft round brush.
    2. In the Options bar set the Opacity to 100%
    3. Adjust the size of the brush circle to match the eye by using the bracket keys.
      1. [ makes the circle smaller
      2. ] makes the circle larger
    4. Paint over the discolored areas in the eye.
      1. If the eye is pure white, nothing happens.
      2. In the Layers panel, change Color to Normal to see the black paint.
  8. To replace the catch light (sparkle), do the following:
    1. Press the X key to switch the foreground color to white.
    2. Make a very small soft brush.
    3. In the Options bar, set the Opacity to 10%-20%
    4. Carefully paint in the catch light, making sure both eyes match.
  9. Choose View > Fit on Screen to check the overall effect.
  10. Save your results.
Cat pet eye repair
Dog pet eye repair   
Now that you know how to fix the wrong eye color, your pets will look like regular members of the family!