Remove Shine
With Photoshop

How to remove shine, glare or hotspots from a nose, a forehead, a cheek or glasses can be a frustrating and baffling problem that seems to resist common sense.

Once you know what to do to remove the shine, however, you will be all over those shiny and glary pictures you have tucked away in an obscure folder somewhere on your computer. 

This cloning part of this technique is particularly suited to a Wacom tablet (Intuos or Intuos Pro) because of the pressure sensitivity of the tablets.

It's best to set the primary Photoshop tool in this technique (Clone Tool) to change opacity with pressure. This will provide you with precise control as you remove the shiny parts of your chosen photograph. 

The Remove Shine Tool Kit

In this remove shine tutorial you'll be using a variety of different tools and adjustments.  The tools include the Clone Tool, The Smudge Tool and the Brush Tool.

The primary remove shine adjustments I used include ...

  • Layers.
  • Blend Modes.
  • Shadows-Highlights.
  • Quick Mask.
  • Curves.
  • Transforms.

There is no one tool or adjustment that will reduce shine in every situation so some experimentation may be necessary.

Remove Shine

This is a picture of my buddy, Gilles.  I took this on a hot afternoon in Phoenix which caused Gilles to sweat a bit on his forehead - hence the shiny bits and a good place to begin this remove shine tutorial. 

Gilles Original

Here are the simple steps to remove shine on a forehead or cheek or even a nose ...

  1. Load your picture in Photoshop.
  2. Create a new layer either by clicking the new layer icon in the Layers Palette or by selecting Layer > New Layer in the menu bar. Do this in the really unlikely event that you mess up and have to start over.  It is easy to throw a layer in the trash and you may want to use the built in properties of your layer later - trust me on this.
  3. Change the Blending Mode to Darken (this is the real secret).
  4. Select either the Healing Brush Tool or the Clone Tool and make sure that Use All Layers is selected. I prefer the Clone Tool because it can be set for pen pressure with a Wacom tablet whereas the Healing Brush Tool is not pressure sensitive.
  5. Alt/Option Click on a dark part of the picture that, in your estimation, will be as close as possible to the color you need to cover the shine.  Move your brush over the area you would like to replace and start painting away the shine. 
  6. If you are using a Wacom Tablet (and you really should be, you know) set the brush to change the opacity with pressure.
  7. When you're satisfied with your work you can fine tune your finished product by adjusting the Layer Opacity.

These are the pictures of Gilles before and after cloning to remove shine. 

Gilles Before

Gilles After Cloning

Remove Shine
Nasty Hotspots and Glare

This technique uses the Shadows/Highlights adjustment to remove shine and those annoying hot spots and glare from glasses. Shadows/highlights is an amazing technique that is fully explained right here ===>.

This photograph has a nasty hotspot on the rim of the glasses and some skin shine as well. 

By now removing the shine on the cheek, nose and chin are old hat and easy to do.  The challenge now is to eliminate that nasty hotspot on the frame.

The first thing to do is to select the shiny area and this is easiest done with the Quick Mask tool.

I set the brush to change size with pressure and set the Feathering to 1.

Here's the mask and the resulting selection ... 

Quick Mask
on Hot Spots

Selection from
Quick Mask

After painting in the area to be selected and leaving Quick Mask it was necessary to Invert the selection (Selection > Inverse).

Now promote your great selection to a new layer (Ctrl-J/Cmd-J) because Shadows/Highlights needs to be done on the original image.  With the selection promoted to a layer we now have an original making it much easier to remove shine and hot spots.

With the promoted layer selected select Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights to bring up the palette ...

Shadows Highlights Palette

This is the Shadows/Highlights palette with the default setting.

Because we have no need to lighten the shadows, the top three sliders need to be moved fully to the left - a setting of zero.

The goal here is to darken the highlights (the hotspot on the rim) so the sliders that are of most interest are the Highlights sliders.

Tonal Width - the range covered from either end (that is the shadow or highlight end) toward the mid-tones.  The range is 0% to 100%.

Amount - specifies the strength of the lightening (for the shadows) or darkening (for the highlights).  The range is 0% to 100%.

Radius - specifies how far around each pixel is searched to determine if it falls in the shadow zone or highlight zone.  The range is from 0 to 2500 pixels.

There is no right setting here - try moving the Tonal Width to 50% and the raise the Amount and watch what happens.  If itis not enough then try a higher setting for the Tonal Width and the Amount.

When things are looking good adjust the Radius to taste ...

With this image the Tonal Width and the Amount were set to the maximum and the Radius was set at 192 Pixels. 

Now that's much better than the original but it is still a bit bright.  This is easy to fix by changing the Layer Blend Mode from Normal to Multiply (if you're not sure about Blend Modes, click here ===>).

In some cases this will still not be enough so the next step is to duplicate the Rim layer as many times as needed to eliminate the hotspot.  In the final image the Rim layer with the Multiply Blend Mode was duplicted twice. 

With those nasty hot spots eliminated one can focus their full attention on the young lady in the picture!  Now you've got two new methods to reduce shine with more to come!

Removing an Overpowering
Shine on Glasses

Here's a second, more detailed technique to remove shine and glare from someones glasses (caused by a flash, for instance).   In many situations the shine completely obliterates one eye which makes cloning - well - almost impossible.

This is much more challenging than it is to remove shine from a nose or forehead and it is very satisfying when you do it well!

Take this rather challenging remove shine project, for instance ...

There are two nasty flash spots that need fixing - we will start with the right eye.

To fix the right eye I used pixels from the left eye. 

Ya, I know it sounds crazy but it works.  It really doesn't matter how you get to the end image as long as you get there and in this remove shine technique it's necessary to do a wee bit of eye swapping!

Here's how to do it.  The right eye is pretty much all shine at the tear duct area but the left eye is fine in the same area.  What you do is make a selection of the good part of the left eye and move it to the right eye. 

  1. Make the selection (the yellow patch above - it will be moved to the other eye) and copy it (Ctrl-C or Cmd-C) and then paste it on a new layer.  This is a 'patch' and it would be a good idea to give your new layer a name because you will end up with lotsa layers by the time this is finished.
  2. Turn off the background layers so you can see what is happening on the next step.  The only thing visible will be your little patch.
  3. Zoom in on the selected area, (making sure you are on the layer you just made) and click the 'patch' with the Magic Wand to select the patch.  In my case I had to make two selections to get the whole patch selected - hold the Shift Key down while making the second selection.
  4. Now go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal - the patch is in the correct orientation.  Accept the transform at the top of your screen. 
  5. Select the Move tool, turn on your background layer, make the patch layerreduce shine transformactive and drag your little patch over to where it needs to be.  It will probably need to be rotated so go to Edit > Transform > Rotate and move your cursor to one corner of the box and drag the selection into the best position you can.  You can just tuck your patch in exactly where it needs to be.  This part won't be perfect but it is a good step in the right direction!
  6. Deslect (Ctrl-D or Cmd-D) and inspect your work.  No doubt the little patch will be the wrong shade or luminosity so now that needs fixing.

Clean Up

The patch is an improvement but not perfect so we need to clean it up.

  • The patch is too dark.
  • There is something funny below the patch.
  • There is a glare on the rim.
  • The eyelashes disappear on the left side of the eye.

These items need to be fixed to make the right eye shine go away.

Fixing up the patch 

  1. First try to decrease the opacity of the layer to see what happens. If the results are not satisfactory then go to the next step.  
  2. Unsatisfactory means you lower the opacity to get the patch looking like it should and the dang shine is showing through - not good.
  3. If that doesn't work then add a Layer Mask to your new layer, set your default colors by pressing the D key and set Black as the foreground color (hit the X key if it is not).  Open the Brushes Palette and set Other Dynamics to Pen Pressure (if you are using a tablet).  If you are doing this with a mouse you will have to change the Opacity setting manually.
  4. Now work around the patch with very light pressure until you are satisfied with the results.  If you do something you don't like hit the X key to bring white to the foreground and paint over your perceived error.
  5. Make sure you are zoomed in really close and work little areas at a time.  This is very fiddly and exacting and using a Intuos graphics tablet makes it much, much easier and the end results are worth it! 
  6. Make sure you are zoomed in really close and work little areas at a time.  This is very fiddly and exacting and using a Intuos graphics tablet makes it much, much easier and the end results are worth it! 

Below the patch

  1. There is still some of the original glare and shine from the original picture right above the left side of the eye and below the patch.
  2. Create a new layer to work this area.  Make sure that Use All Layer s is checked.
  3. Zoom in really close on the left side of the eye and do an evaluation.
  4. A small amount of low opacity smudging of the patch with the Smudge Tool may be helpful.
    Grab the Clone Tool and set the Brush Dynamics to Other Dynamics (Opacity).  Make the brush really small with a soft edge.
  5. Select the Source somewhere in the patch and very carefully remove the left over glare below the patch and above the eye.

The Rim

This is a straight forward Clone job to remove shine on a New Layer. 

  1. Zoom in really close and set the brush to a small hard edge tip.  It will be easier if you un-check Aligned so every time you lift the pen the Source returns to the original position you set.
  2. Some light smudging may be necessary when you finish.
  3. The glare off of the rim also leaks onto the skin so this needs to be cloned out as well.

The Eyelash

The eyelash was fixed using the same method as the original patch on another layer.

  1. Select the good eyelash on the right of the eye and copy it to a new layer.
  2. Turn off all of the layers except the eyelash layer and select it with the Magic Wand.  Rotate the eyelash with Edit > Transform > Rotate and move it into the right position.
  3. If it looks strange (mine did) I used a very small eraser to clean it up (mine had a nasty bulge where it shouldn't be).
  4. Zoom in and out and check your work often.

Here is the completed right eye ...

The left eye

The same basic procedures will apply to the left eye as the right eye.  Here's how it looked after messing with it ... 

It's much better but lacking contrast so we need to do some adjusting with Curves.

Make a rectangular selection over the part of the eye that needs fixing and then create a new Curves Adjustment Layer.

Adjust the contrast a small amount ... this is my curves adjustment.

Unfortunately, the curves adjustment was done on a small rectangular selection and that area is brighter than the rest of the area and there are hard edges that are visible - they need to be fixed. 

Result of Curves Adjustment

Curves layer with Mask

The great things is that the Curves Adjustment Layer comes with its own Layer Mask so you can easily fix those annoying problems.

Set the foreground/background colors to black and white (press the D key) and make sure black is the foreground.  Select a soft edge brush and set the Brush Palette to change Opacity with pressure and then paint around the visible box with varying pressure. 

That's it - there are a lot of steps to successfully remove shine from glasses and your image will probably present different obstacles.  The procedures outlined here are a starting point but they will work well in most cases. 

There will be situations where no amount of remove shine techniques will work.  Take that as a reminder to check your pictures after you take them and if the glare and hot spots are outrageous then trash the image and try again.

Remove Shine Videos

Remove Shine Video One

Remove Shine Video Two

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