PhotoShop Elements tutorial – removing glasses reflections / glare

Let me start by saying I am not a PhotoShop guru, expert, or even – until recently – user.

Therefore, I am very proud of myself for figuring this out. I want to share the techniques with you.

Let’s look at the before and after shots.

This is a self portrait that I took in my yard this afternoon.



Three issues with the original photo, which I’ll address one by one:
1) Glare on glasses
2) Lips need definition
3) Bluish tint to photo

Tip #1: Editing photos is a LOT easier with a tablet pen. I use an entry-level tablet by WACOM called Bamboo Fun.

Removing glare on glasses

This is a common problem for those of us who wear glasses. This is only one of many ways to solve the issue.

I took several photos, including this one, without my glasses.

You’ll notice the photo is rotated slightly (4 degrees to the right, to be exact). I’ll get to that later.

Before you begin work, go to the layer menu and choose “duplicate layer.” You want to do this to protect your work. (It will also be necessary when working on the lips later.) To the right, you will see your layers – there should be two thumbnails there now, and they will look exactly the same.

I opened my non-glasses photo and kept it open as a different file. So, I had the glasses photo with two layers open, and the non-glasses photo open.

Always zoom in as close as you can when you’re working on a particular part.

Go to one of the layers of the glasses photo and use the magnetic lasso tool to outline the shape of each eyeglasses lense. You want to leave the entire frame intact – just lasso the interior/lense part. When it’s as you’d like, delete the selections (Edit menu, “cut” option).

You won’t notice any difference if you have both layers visible. Go to the thumbnails and click on the eye symbol to the left of the thumbnail. When the eye symbol disappears, you will be looking only at the layer with the eye symbol next to it. Mess around with this a bit so you can get your brain around it. Essentially, one of the layers will be the original image. The other layer will be exactly the same except there will be blank spaces instead of eyes/lenses.

The next step: go to the file of the face without glasses. You’re going to copy the eyes from this file and superimpose them over the eyes on the layer in the with-glasses file that has the full image (i.e., NOT the layer that has the eyeglass lenses “cut out”). BE SURE YOU ARE WORKING IN THE CORRECT LAYER of the with-glasses file by making sure the thumbnail is highlighted.

The first thing you need to do is approximate the position of the eyes in the file you’re copying from and try to make them as close as possible to the position of the eyes in the (with-glasses) file you are copying to. In my case, the images were very close, so I only had to rotate the without-glasses image by 4 degrees. You may have to experiment with this a little bit to find the right position. To rotate the image, go to the Image menu, choose “Rotate” and then “Custom.”

Once the position of the first eye looks right, you’ll need to select the eye for copying into the with-glasses file. Don’t worry about the SIZE of the eye right now. Just worry about the position of the eye. You’re basically looking at the SLANT of the eye and making sure it lines up in both photos.

Here’s how you select the eye. Use the quick selection tool to outline the eye. Include any eye folds and eyelashes in your selection. It doesn’t have to be exact. Once your selection is complete, go to the Edit menu and select “Copy.”

If your two photos are similar enough, you may be able to copy a larger portion of the eye area and avoid the cloning steps below, either partially or altogether. Remember, the top layer is going to cover the entire image below except for the part where the eyeglass lenses have been cut out, so you don’t have to be particularly neat about it.

Go to the with-glasses photo now. MAKE SURE YOU ARE WORKING IN THE CORRECT LAYER! The layer you want to be working in is the layer with the entire image, i.e., NOT the layer with the eyes cut out.

Go to the Edit menu and select “Paste.” The eye should appear in some random spot on the layer you’re working in. Click on the Move Tool, and move the selection to a spot just above or just below the corresponding eye on the original (with-glasses) image. (You may notice that this creates another layer that is blank except for the image you just copied and pasted.)

Now you will adjust the SIZE of the new eye. When you click on the selection, you should see a box appear. There’s a tiny circle in the middle (click and drag here to move) and square boxes around the outside (click on these to change the size). Click and drag the square boxes so that the copied eye is the same size as the original eye in the with-glasses image. Once you’re satisfied that the copied eye is the same size as the original eye in the with-glasses image, move the selection directly over the original eye.

Next, go back to the without-glasses image and click on the Clone Tool. Up on the top of the page, below the menus, there are some drop-down boxes. One of these is for brush size. You will need to adjust the brush size to make the job easier.

Choose a portion of the image for which a landmark is easy to identify. I used the curve of a particular lash as my landmark and set the brush size so that circle representing the brush fit well into the landmark I’d chosen. So, for example, the circle might reach from the curve of an eyelash to the fold of the eye. You’ll have to choose a spot that’s easy for you to line up on the with-glasses image. Set the selection for the clone tool at your landmark spot (I use a Mac, so for me, I hit option and clicked on the mouse button to set the selection).

Go to the APPROPRIATE LAYER on the with-glasses image and position the clone tool at your landmark. If you line up the landmarks well, you can then use your mouse or tablet (tablet is SO much easier – I use a small Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet) to “draw” around the eye with the Clone Tool – the corresponding portions of the image from the non-glasses file will copy over to the with-glasses layer.

You may have to reset the clone tool a couple of times depending on how much difference in size there is between the eyes in the two files. For me, the sizes were pretty close, so I only had to set the clone tool in the non-glasses file twice – I worked from each corner of the eye. The skin around the eye will likely not need to be as precise unless there are a lot of specific landmarks (wrinkles, birthmarks, etc.). You could always blur or soften the skin afterwards if the lines of the skin don’t line up correctly.

Make sure the full image layer is at the bottom, the layer with the copied eye is in the middle, and the layer with the cut-out lenses is on the top. Check out your work by clicking on the top layer. If you don’t know how to reposition the layers, check out the help file.

Now. Repeat this process for the other eye. My two photos were so close to each other, I didn’t have to adjust the rotation position for the second eye. Depending on your specific photos, you may have to adjust the rotation slightly differently for the second eye.

One thing I did with my photo was leave a bit of reflection on the right eye lense. I also left a bit of reflection around the edges of the left lense. I think this makes it look a bit more realistic (and hey – it was less cloning to do!) You just want to make sure you can SEE the eyes – that the glare on the glasses doesn’t obstruct them.

Lips need definition
The lip gloss I was wearing wasn’t picked up well by the camera. I also have a poorly defined upper lip, and I wanted to basically give myself some virtual lipstick – nothing crazy, just some definition.

I called my wonderful sister-in-law, Anna Wing, a digital photographer and PhotoShop expert, and she gave me the following advice. It worked so well!

Here’s a photo of the lips “before:”

And “after:”

Here’s how I did it:

Go to the top layer of the photo – the one with the eyeglasses cut out. It’s always a good idea to make a new layer for a new part of the project. You have more flexibility and control that way.

Go to the Layer menu and click “Duplicate Layer.” Work from this new layer. The bottom layer should be the original image – don’t modify this – you will need it for the magical last step!

First, click on the Spot Healing Brush Tool. Zoom in on the lips and click repeatedly on any dry flakes of skin that might be present. This will smooth the lips out a bit.

Next, click on the Burn Tool to darken the lips. If the lips have a lighter or highlighted area on the lower lip, leave it alone. If not, create one – it makes for more luscious and realistic-looking lips. Just go around the edges of the lips and then fill in, as appropriate. If your lips are not well defined, as with my top lip, feel free to give it some definition.

When you’re done burning, click on the Dodge Tool and go over the lighter or highlighted area on the lower lip. If you don’t like the effect, you can always undo it by going to the Edit menu and clicking “Undo.”

Don’t freak out if your lips suddenly look bruised. Here’s what mine looked like at this step (kind of makes me think of Twilight – I’m such a geeky fan of Twilight!):

Now comes the magic.

Go to the layer area with the thumbnails. There’s a drop-down box labeled “Opacity.” This is the degree to which the layer is transparent vs. opaque. The default is 100%. Move the opacity level down until the dodged and burned layer and the original (bottom) layer are ideally mixed to provide the shade you desire. For me, it looked the way I wanted it to at 35%.

Fixing the tint

Before you finish up, I suggest saving your file with the layers as a PhotoShop (.psd) file. This preserves your different layers so you can go back and modify them later if you want.

Next, you may want to flatten the image. This means that all the layers will merge together and become one image. Go to the Layer menu and choose “Flatten Image.” Here’s what my image looked like after this step:

Finally, go to the Enhance menu and choose “Auto Color Correction.” This usually works well, but if it doesn’t, you can always adjust manually by clicking on “Adjust Color” in the same menu. You could also experiment with the “Remove Color Cast” option in the “Adjust Color” sub-menu if your problem is mostly a weird overall color (too blue, too yellow, etc.). In the case of these photos, Auto Color Correction and Remove Color Cast did about the same thing as far as my naked eye could tell. (huh huh she said “nekkid”)

And again, here’s the completed “After” photo.


3 Responses

  1. Wow girl! WTG…I am scared of photoshop, so this is way impressive!

  2. hi.. thanks for your info.. from

  3. […] PhotoShop Elements tutorial – removing glasses reflections / glare … Jan 28, 2009 … PhotoShop Elements tutorial – removing glasses reflections / glare. Posted on January 28, … […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: