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The elusive alpha channel remains one of the most misunderstood yet powerful tools in Photoshop. Alpha channels are collections of luminance data that control the transparency of an image, and they inform just about every aspect of Photoshop. As he builds transitional blended layers, fashions a depth map, makes edge adjustments, and takes on extreme channel mixing, Omni Award-winning expert Deke McClelland teaches Photoshop users that where there's a will, there's a way. Photoshop CS3 Channels and Masks: Advanced Techniques covers mapping texture on an image, turning flesh into stone, using vector masks, working with all different channels, creating a rustic edge effect, and much more. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Channels and Masks from the Exercise Files tab."
We are going to end this chapter with an examination of Red Eye and how you go about correcting it. This is industrial strength red eye what we have got right here. It's about the worst case of red eye ever for reasons that I will explain as we go through this. We are going to start by trying the simple solutions and then eventually we are going to discover that the only way to fix this red eye is to use a manual process that's going to work for you too. So it's worth learning, but it is a little intensive as you will find out. So I am working inside of an image called Tssotblh.psd found inside the 13 Channel Mix folder, and this acronym stands for The Sun Sets On Their Blond Little Heads, because these are my children here. Aren't they beautiful? And so well behaved at this wedding, don't you think? Of course, it's easy to make kids look well behaved when they are in a still photograph like this. But, they were little gentlemen; actually they did a great job.
Now, whoever captured this photo, I can't remember if my wife shot it or if I shot it, but anyway one or the other of us was using a low end camera, just sort of your rinky-dink point and shoot camera, and that's when you get red eye. You don't get red eye when you have got your studio equipment, because hopefully you have better sense than to aim the stroke directly into your model's eye, so that it reflects right back into the camera lens. But, that's what happens routinely with low-end cameras. Basically, you are in a dark environment, a darkish environment one would think. So that the eyes are dilated, so that we have big old pupils especially on children, and then they are flashed, the strobe is mounted just like an inch above the camera lens.
So it enters the eye, goes directly into that eye and comes right back out of the camera lens, and so you are lighting the interior of the eye like crazy. Basically, it looks red because the interior of the eye is kind of lip colored, it is red on the inside. Then secondly, it's also very moist and reflective, and so it ends up looking like the reflector on the back of a bicycle or on the back of a car or something. It just really comes right back out at you, and as I say, this is about the worse that red eye gets. So I am going to walk you through some simple ways to correct the problem, but the simple ways often don't work. This is great H. L. Mencken quote that goes, For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong and that sums up red eye for you. The simple solutions, they occasionally work okey-doke, but they are usually the wrong solutions as well. So we will see the simple ones and then we will see the really good ones, the ones that really work.
So here I am as I said working inside of this image. You may notice if you go to the Layers palette, you will see that what we have here is an image that's been converted to a Smart Object, and then I went ahead and applied a couple of smart filters. We have got a Reduce Noise filter and we have got High Pass set to the Overlay Mode, and they are both being modified by a Density mask that I've lifted from the red channel. That way we are just getting rid of noise and we are increasing the contrast a little bit inside of the darkest details which was necessary. You can sort of fool around with that, turn it on and off, and check out the settings, if you want to.
But, I am going to move along to the Red Eye tool for just a moment here. It's available, oh, gosh, I use it so seldomly. I don't even know where it is. Here it is, in the Healing Brush fly-out menu. This guy right there, the Red Eye tool. Go ahead and select it. If you've loaded my keyboard shortcuts, you will notice that I set the J key just to cycle between the good tools here, the Healing Brush tool, I don't like the Spot Healing Brush tool because it rarely works, but we have got the good Healing Brush tool, and the Patch tool. So it just cycles between those two rather than engaging these bad tools right here.
The Red Eye tool, it's not so much a bad tool. It's just that as I say, it rarely performs as you would like it to. Sometimes it gets it right. Now, I can't use it on a smart object, not directly because it's a pixel level tool, it changes the pixels inside the image. So what I am going to have to do is double-click on this thumbnail here inside the Layer palette in order to enter the Smart Objects. I will get this warning. You may or may not get the warning depending on whether you have told it to get banned in the past, but I am just going to go ahead and click OK. The warning is just telling you how to update a smart object after you get done modifying it.
Now, I am going to zoom in on Max's pupils, just go there, the toughest ones to correct. What you do with this lame old tool is you click, and you just hope it's going to fix the problem. I shouldn't characterize it as lame old because it's actually highly automated. It's a great piece of automation in a lot of ways. Because all you have to do is click near the pupil, you don't even have to click on it, and Photoshop will go ahead and find it. Now, in our case it's made the pupils, it's got rid of the red but it left them gray, and a friend of mine calls this the Gray Eye tool because it always leaves pupils looking gray which I think is pretty good thing to call it actually. I am going to go ahead and undo those modifications there. You can see just how bad things look.
You can modify some settings like I could say well you know what, that wasn't dark enough. That was too light. So let's set the darken amount to 100%, let's go as dark as we can go and then, the pupil size is also an option here, if it's not filling enough of the pupil, it's basically what it means like you are getting a little bit of a pink edge around your corrected pupil. Then, you can raise this pupil size value, so that you are fixing the corona as well. By corona here, I will go ahead and zoom in on this image, by corona; I mean that little bit of darkened red that's around the pupil there. By the way, this is not a corrected version of the image. I haven't heightened this red eye; this is just the way it was captured. Just so you have a sense, that this is the kind of stuff that occurs on a fairly regular basis with your cheesier cameras.
All right, I am going to raise that pupil size value to 100%, so I am doing the most ballistic correction possible using this tool and then I will click, and that's what it looks like. The problem I am afraid is that the pupil has become lighter than the iris. Oh, that's terrible. So obviously that didn't work is basically what it comes down to. I think you can see that pretty easily. So there it is, that simple neat solution that's just playing wrong. Let's go ahead and close the Smart Object just by pressing Ctrl+W or Command+W on the Mac. It's going to ask you if you want to update your changes, you want to say, nope, I don't. Nothing to update there. We didn't make any changes really, nothing that we want to keep.
All right. So what's the better approach will -- I will show you a better channel mixing approach in the next exercise that should work for most of your red eye images, and then if that still doesn't work as it won't in the case of our image, I will show you in the exercise after that what to do, how to roll up your sleeves and really get to work, and make mincemeat out of any red eye on the planet and make these eyes look gorgeous black and beautiful.
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