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How to fix pet pupils in Photoshop, Elements, and Pixelmator

Lesa Snider | Jan. 22, 2015
Pets give us unconditional love and endless hours of joy--no wonder we're constantly snapping their photos! Unfortunately, it's easy to end up with the animal equivalent of red-eye, wherein their pupils appear green, gold, or even white. While the Red-Eye tool in Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 and later does have a Pet Eye option, you'll get better results by rebuilding the pupils from scratch--and it's not nearly as hard as it sounds.

Pets give us unconditional love and endless hours of joy — no wonder we're constantly snapping their photos! Unfortunately, it's easy to end up with the animal equivalent of red-eye, wherein their pupils appear green, gold, or even white. While the Red-Eye tool in Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 and later does have a Pet Eye option, you'll get better results by rebuilding the pupils from scratch — and it's not nearly as hard as it sounds.

Get closer

Open a photo and zoom in so you can see the eyes better. Press Z to activate the Zoom tool in all three programs. In Photoshop, turn off the Scrubby Zoom checkbox in the Options bar first. Now, drag to draw a box around both eyes. You can also zoom in by pressing Command-+ (plus sign) repeatedly. To reposition the photo once you're zoomed in, press and hold the spacebar and drag with your mouse.

Select the pupils

In order to rebuild the pupils, you need to select them first. Press W to activate the Magic Wand, mouse over to one of the pupils and then click inside of it to select it. Shift-click as many times as necessary to select the entire pupil (the Shift key puts the tool in Add to Selection mode). If Shift-clicking doesn't do the trick, increase the Magic Wand's Tolerance setting — a higher value means more pixels will be included in the selection, while a lower number means fewer pixels will be included. In Photoshop or Elements, the Tolerance setting lives in the Options bar, though once you change it you'll need to re-create the selection.

In Pixelmator, adjusting tolerance is much easier — you visually increase it by dragging downward with your mouse. As you drag, the area that will be included in your selection is highlighted (shown here in darkish green); release your mouse button to see the new selection. To continue adding more pixels to the selection, Shift-click atop pixels that aren't yet included in the selection, and then drag downward to adjust tolerance. Once you've gotten the first pupil selected, Shift-click to select the other one. When you're finished, you should have a selection of both pupils.

Soften it up

For the new pupils to blend properly with surrounding pixels, soften the selection's edges. In Photoshop or Elements, click the Refine Edge button in the Options bar (in Pixelmator, choose Edit > Refine Selection). In the resulting dialog box, click the View menu and choose Overlay. This maneuver previews your selection as a red overlay, making it easier to see atop your image (Pixelmator automatically previews areas outside of your selection in red).

 

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