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Red eye correction made easy with the Color Replacement tool

Added on Tuesday 2nd of August 2011 06:01 am EST

Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5
Operating Systems:
Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Whether you’re taking pictures with a digital camera, a disposable camera, or anything in between, your subjects are always at risk of being possessed—with red eye, that is. There are ways you can reduce red eye as you take photos of people and animals but, when your efforts aren’t successful, Photoshop’s offers the Color Replacement tool for a quick fix.


To help you rescue photos suffering from red eye, we’ll:

  1. Show you the tool’s options, so you can get it to work the way you wish.
  2. Use the tool for quick corrections, like changing eye color.
  3. Explain why this tool is a good starting point for larger color corrections, such as removing a yellow colorcast.

Anytime you use a flash, the reflection of light off of the red blood vessels in the retina can cause the appearance of red eyes, as shown in the Before picture in Figure A. Fortunately, there are ways to rid our friends, family members, and pets of their wicked red glares. Preventative steps include taking your pictures in a well-lit environment and having your subject look at a bright light before taking the picture is also a neat trick. When all else fails, though, you can use Photoshop’s Color Replacement tool. It’s quick, it’s easy, and, as shown in the After picture in Figure A, it’s foolproof.

Please label A1, “Before” and A2, “After”


Use the right tool for the job
Photoshop has a tool to aid in the color-replacement process. The tool is aptly named the Color Replacement tool, it’s located on the Brush tool’s flyout menu, as shown in Figure B. With this tool, you can paint over an image to replace color with another color of your choosing more easily than ever before. Let’s take a closer look at how this tool works.


Note: Although the Color Replacement tool doesn’t work on images in Bitmap, Indexed Color, or Multichannel mode, it works wonders on images in RGB Color and CMYK Color modes.


Get to know the Color Replacement tool
Unlike Photoshop’s alternative color replacement options, the Color Replacement tool provides you with a highly controllable way of modifying color in your images. Using this tool, you can paint over sampled pixels, altering them to specified values. Not only that, but you can also adjust the size and hardness of the brush for optimal results. Let’s take a closer look at the options this tool offers.

  1. Blending modes. When working with the Color Replacement tool, you can choose from four different modes: Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity. This allows you to change the color entirely or make more subtle changes. Each mode works the same as the blending modes found in the Layers panel.
  2. Sampling. You can choose how the selected brush samples the target color from the Sampling pop-up menu on the tool options bar. Your choices are Continuous, Once, and Background Swatch.
  3. Limits. Besides choosing how to sample a target color, you can also set limits. Your choices are Discontiguous, Contiguous, and Find Edges.
  4. Tolerance. You can adjust the tolerance of the Color Replacement tool. A lower tolerance allows you more control by limiting the number of pixels that are altered. A higher tolerance enables you to replace a broader range of colors at once.


Get the red out!
Let’s go through a quick technique for to eliminate red eye. It’s also a great way to change your eye color without wearing colored contact lenses! To follow along, open an image in RGB mode or download the file from the URL listed at the beginning of this article and open the image file rats.jpg, shown in Figure C. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)


In-an-instant, remove the red eye
If correcting red eye with the Color Replace...


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