How to Use Photo Editing Software to Remove Red Eye

How to Remove Red-eye Using Pixlr
One of the first menus you'll see when you start playing with Pixlr
One of the first menus you'll see when you start playing with Pixlr
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Our results after using Pixlr's red-eye reduction tool
Photo courtesy William Harris
Our results (on one eye) after fiddling with Pixlr's adjustment settings
Photo courtesy William Harris

Swedish developers launched Pixlr in 2008 to provide nonprofessionals an easy -- and free -- tool to create, edit and share images online. In 2011, Autodesk, a maker of 3-D design software (and the brains behind SketchBook Pro), acquired Pixlr and added a few new features. The image editor remains free and attracts millions of users who want the power of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements without the accompanying price tag.

To remove red-eye using Pixlr, navigate to in your favorite browser. Then, click on the Pixlr Editor link at the top of the page. You'll get the first screen pictured.

Click on "Open image from computer" and then browse your image library for the photo you want to edit. The first thing you'll notice is that Pixlr, like Photoshop, comes with a prebuilt red-eye tool. When you select the red-eye tool, you get one control -- for tolerance, which can be adjusted between 0 and 100 percent.

The default setting is 50 percent, and you can start with that to see if you like the results. Once you've set the tolerance level, simply click in the middle of each red pupil, and the adjustment will be made automatically. On our photo, we found that the lower the tolerance, the better the results. The second image was created with the tolerance set to zero.

The results were OK, but you may be able to eliminate red-eye more effectively by using Pixlr's adjustment settings. Here's how to do it. First, open the image you want to edit and zoom in so the eyes are front and center. Next, select the marquee tool, which looks like a dashed box, in the main tool palette. Now select the elliptical marquee option and set the constraint to "Aspect ratio" so you can draw a perfect circle.

Move into your image and draw a circle the same size as the subject's pupil. Make sure the marquee is centered over the pupil and then go to Edit > Copy, and then Edit > Paste. You'll end up with a new red pupil on the subject's face (should have three now).

Using Pixlr's move tool, grab the cutout pupil and place it back where it started, above the original red pupil. Then hide the original (bottom) layer so all you see is the cutout pupil.

Next, go to Adjustment > Desaturate, which removes the color, leaving behind a grayscale version of the pupil. Then go to Filter > Gaussian Blur and set the blur amount to 10. Finally, click on the original layer to make it visible again. When you do, the red pupil should be removed from one eye. You can simply duplicate the process on the other eye.