Adobe Photoshop CS5 : Fixing Reflections in Glasses

11/27/2011 9:24:00 AM
I get more requests for how to fix this problem than probably all the rest combined. The reason is it’s so darn hard to fix. If you’re lucky, you get to spend an hour or more desperately cloning. In many cases, you’re just stuck with it. However, if you’re smart, you’ll invest an extra 30 seconds while shooting to take one shot with the glasses off (or ideally, one “glasses off” shot for each new pose). Do that, and Photoshop will make this fix absolutely simple. If this sounds like a pain, then you’ve never spent an hour desperately cloning away a reflection.

Step One.
Before we get into this, make sure you read the short intro up top here first, or you’re going to wonder what’s going on in Step Two. Okay, here’s a photo of a co-worker with his glasses on.

Step Two.
I could see right away that we were going to have a reflection in his glasses, so I told him after the shot not to move his head, but just to reach up and remove his glasses, and then we took another shot. Now, with both images open, get the Move tool (V), press-and-hold the Shift key, and click-and-drag the “no glasses” shot on top of the “glasses” photo.


Step Three.
Holding the Shift key will help get the alignment of the two layers somewhat close, but in this case, it’s still off by a bit because the shot was hand-held. Anyway, for this to work, the two photos have to be lined up with each other right on the money, and in CS5, Photoshop will do it for you. You start by going to the Layers panel, clicking on the Background layer, then pressing-and-holding the Command (PC: Ctrl) key and clicking on Layer 1 to select them both (you can see they’re both highlighted here). Then go under the Edit menu and choose Auto-Align Layers (if that function is grayed out, it’s because you don’t have both layers selected). When the dialog appears, leave it set to Auto and just click OK.

Step Four.
A little progress bar will appear telling you that it’s aligning the selected layers based on their content, and within a few seconds the two layers will be precisely lined up . Once your images are aligned, use the Crop tool (C) to crop away any transparent areas. Okay, now you’ll need to hide the top layer by clicking on the little Eye icon to the left of the layer, then click once on the Background layer (as shown here). Now you’re seeing the original shot, with the reflection in the glasses.

Step Five.
You’re going to need to select the inside area of both lenses, and you can use whichever selection tool you’re most comfortable with (like the Magnetic Lasso tool perhaps), but for a job like this, I think the Pen tool is perfect. If you choose to go the Pen tool route, get the Pen tool (P), then go up to the Options Bar and click on the second icon from the left (so it just draws a path). Then click the Pen tool once on a lower part of one of the glass lenses, move your cursor over to the left, and click, hold, and drag slightly to the left (as shown here). This draws a slightly curved path between the two points (the farther you drag after clicking, the more the curve bends).

Step Six.
So basically, that’s how it works—you move a little further along the lens, click, hold, and drag. Move again—click, hold, and drag, and continue this as you’re basically going to trace around the lens with a path. When you get back to the point where you started, a little circle appears in the bottom-right corner of your Pen tool’s icon letting you know you’ve come “full circle.” Click on that point to close your path. Now do the same thing to the other lens. Once you’ve gotten paths drawn around both lenses, press Command-Return (PC: Ctrl-Enter) to turn your paths into a selection (as shown here). Remember, you don’t have to do this using the Pen tool—use any selection tool(s) you’re comfortable with.

Step Seven.
After your selection is in place, make the top layer visible again (seen here) by clicking in the first column on the Layers panel where the Eye icon used to be. Then, click on the top layer to select it.

Step Eight.
To complete the effect, just click the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel (as shown here) and the eyes from the top layer replace the eyes from the original glasses layer, and your reflection problems are gone.

Before(notice the reflection—most visible in the right eye)

After (the reflection is gone)

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