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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.

Next, set the Smooth amount to around 20 and the Feather amount to 2 pixels for a large image (try lower numbers on smaller images). If necessary, increase selection size by dragging the Contract/Expand slider rightward (in Pixelmator, drag the Size slider rightward). Finally, from the Output To menu at the bottom of the dialog box in Photoshop or Elements, choose Selection and then press OK (in Pixelmator, just click OK).

Fill the new pupil

To protect your original image, let's fill the new pupils on a new layer. Press Shift-Command-N to add a new, empty layer. If you'd like, name the new layer pupils. Next, choose Edit > Fill and in the resulting dialog box, choose black and click OK. Depending on the accuracy of your initial selection, you may need to fill them a second time. When the pupils look good to you, choose Select > Deselect to get rid of the selection.

Add a glint

To make the new pupils look realistic, add a light reflection or glint. Press Shift-Command-N to add another new, empty layer and name it glint. Press B to activate the Brush tool and from the Brush Preset picker in the Options bar, choose a soft-edge brush (in Pixelmator, brush options open in a separate panel, and you can just pick one that looks like it has soft edges).

Press D to set your color chips to the default colors of black and white, and then press X until white appears as your foreground color chip (in Photoshop or Elements, your color chips are at the bottom of the Tools panel; in Pixelmator, the color appears in the Options bar at the top of the interface when the Brush tool is active).

Next, mouse over to one pupil and with your brush cursor positioned a few pixels from the pupil's edge, use the left/right bracket keys on your keyboard to adjust cursor size so it's approximately one-quarter of the pupil size, and then click once to add a glint. Mouse over to the same spot in the other pupil and click to add another glint. In the Layers panel, lower the opacity setting of the glint layer until it looks realistic to you (say, 75 percent).

Save it

Choose File > Save As and pick Photoshop (or Pixelmator) from the Format menu so your layers remain intact. To create an image suitable for email or posting online, choose File > Save for Web and pick JPEG from the format menu at upper right (use the height and width fields at lower right to change image size if you need to). In Pixelmator, choose File > Export and then click the JPEG icon. Here's the final result, including the Layers panel.

As you can see, your pet can go from creepy to cute in just a few minutes. Until next time, may the creative force be with you all.


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