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We have all been there. You are shooting great shots of a scene or an event, and you look in your view finder, like the shot, and move on to the next one. After the festivities, you go back and look at your shots, and find that your subject has red eye. This used to be a huge problem to fix in Photoshop, because they didn’t have a tool to immediately remove red eye.

This changed in CS5, though when Photoshop integrated the Red Eye Tool. This isn’t an end-all tool, but it does help to fix simple red eye problems. In this tutorial, we are going to show you 2 different methods for removing red eye; one with the Red Eye Tool, and one without.

This first method is fairly straightforward. To find the Red Eye Tool, click and hold down your mouse on the healing brush tool to reveal the sub-menu, and at the bottom is the Red Eye Tool.


You’ll notice in the image above, both people have a strong case of red eye. To use the Red Eye Tool, simply select it and use it like you would a brush, clicking on the area that you want to fix. You can zoom in if you have to. Make sure when using this tool, that you click as close to the center of the red area that you can, as this will give you the best results. If your red eye problem is simple, then chances are good that the Red Eye Tool fixed it.

You can see in the image below, that with 3 simple clicks, I was able to fix all three cases of red eye, and I ran into no problems. The tool does a fairly good job of removing the red eye effect, leaving in the specular highlights that are common to almost any portrait. If you are doing simple image editing, then this method should be all you need to quickly fix a problem photo.


There are scenarios where the Red Eye Tool won’t work. This is usually due to the fact that there are red tones around the area that you are trying to correct. You get an effect that makes all of your corrected subjects look like football players, with black under their eyes. This can be disappointing, but there is an easy work around that is a great way to consistently fix your images that have red eye.

The first thing that you want to do is make sure that you are in the right color mode. Most professionals edit their images in RGB mode, and if they are correcting their images for the purposes of print, they convert to CMYK mode when they are done with their corrections. The other reason for doing this is because some filters and settings won’t work in CMYK mode.


The main problem with the image is that the red is overpowering the other colors. When working with channels, you have the combined layer that includes all of the channels, and you have each individual channel on its own layer below, including red, blue and green. Our subjects eyes are red, so we need to balance out the red by adding the other two colors, blue and green.

Select the Lasso Tool, and make loose selections around the red areas of the eyes that you would like to correct. Using this method, you can select each eye individually, or you can select all of the areas that you would like to correct at once. To do this, simply hold the shift key to add to your selection each time. If you select too much, or you need to take away from your selection you can hold the option or alt key while making the selection. In the example below, all three eyes are selected.


With your selection made, you need to bring up your channels panel. Select the green layer of your channels panel. Make sure that the other channels are deactivated and in your upper menu choose Edit>Copy. Then, select the red channel layer and go to Edit>Paste Special>Paste Into.

Then select the blue channel and go to Edit>Copy and go back to the red channel and go to Edit>Paste Special>Paste Into. If you activate all of your channels again, you should see that the green and blue channels that were pasted into the red channel should balance out the red that overpowered your image before. The result is shown below.


The red eye problem is corrected, and the result is a natural looking eye, with the correct colors, and highlights. The first method can make the eye appear almost black in most cases. If you are editing multiple images, or just a few personal photos, then the red eye tool may work well enough for your purposes.

However if you are a professional photographer, or the image that you are correcting is going to be featured on a web site or a publication then you will want to choose the second method. Also, if your subject’s eyes are one of the main focal points of your image, then you definitely have to have a way to correct this properly, and the second method does just that. You can correct the color imbalance, while maintaining colors and gradation, giving you more control over the outcome of your red eye correction.