Did you see...

All Kinds of Flips

Sometimes repairing an eye can be flipping hard!

Begin by duplicating the layer, Ctrl + J (on a PC) or Cmd + J (on a Mac). For those who may not know, this is a good practice for digital restoration so you can compare the before image to your after work.

I used to run around like a chicken with my head cut off looking for images with obliterated eyes to practice flipping off…I mean flipping eyes, but then it hit me, duh! The eyes don’t have to be destroyed to practice, ditz! In fact, when practicing, especially when just starting down the flipping road, having both eyes intact can be very helpful! The sample photo, one in my personal collection, is available for download to follow along. Naturally, it’s for your personal, educational use only, and not to be used for any other reason, except if you’d like to send it along to show us just how awesome you’re getting at this!

There’s more than one way to skin a cat…or flip an eye. There’s cloning and flipping, there’s cutting and flipping, there’s piecing and flipping…well, you get the picture. Usually, the best way to go about the most natural horizontal eye flips is a combination of two of these, which are basically the same things; only the way you go about them is different.


The Clone Flip

This procedure was covered very well in a video by our own TipSquirrel. If the process confuses you at all or you’re new to flipping from the Clone Source panel, I highly recommend watching it.

This is a wonderful way to flip and clone, especially, like everything else, when you’ve used it enough to be comfortable with all the settings and such. If you clone the entire eye, it’s the same as the cut and flip, which we’ll go over in a moment, except you’re “painting” it in instead of selecting and cutting; personal preference, really, but the same result. If you’re cloning in a portion of the eye, as Tipsy has in the video, it works best when you have the subject of the image looking fairly straight into the camera and there’s not a lot of discrepancy between the eyes, such as those pesky saggy eyelids or something.


The Cut ‘N’ Flip

This is my personal favorite no no other reason than I’ve gotten it into my head that it just takes less time to select an area, Ctrl (or Cmd, if you’re so inclined) +J, Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal, Move Tool, Arrow key…probably just because I’ve been doing it forever. As for the how of it, I pretty much just said it all, but here’s a quick do-over:


Flip (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal)…


…and all’s done but the tweaking. Speaking of tweaking…


Tweakin’ Flips

I’ve seen tutorials (many, many tutorials…) that sort of lead you to believe that once you flip and move you’re done. Sure, you could, but only if you want little children to laugh and point at your work. The flip needs to be adjusted, tweaked if you will, to make it look normal. First, a little trick to help your tweaking.

This is where having two good eyes, or at least most of an eye, to practice on comes in handy. On a new, blank layer, mark around the eye you’re replacing. This can either be a line all around, dots, or a series of lines marking the edges, that’s up to you.

Move that layer to the top, over the flipped eye layer. Move your eye flip over and Edit > Free Transform. Now move and rotate the flipped eye to match with the marked up layer.

You can also, of course, right click over the transform area and select Warp if you need to do a little more transformation to make the flipped eye fit just right. After you’ve adjusted to your heart’s content, either turn the marked up layer’s visibility off, or delete it.

You may need to adjust the lightness or darkness of the flipped eye. Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and move the sliders to get the “new” eye as close in tone to the one you’re replacing as possible.

Now you just need to add a layer mask to the flipped eye layer, or use the eraser tool at around 20% Opacity to blend the new eye in.

Ok, now it’s all selected, or cloned, flipped, moved and blended, but something’s still not right…


Flipping Pieces

What’s wrong with this picture?

When we flipped the eye, the eye lights also got flipped, and now they’re in the wrong place. This is a perfect opportunity for a spot fix! Just like an image that only has, for instance, a rip or a scratch going through the middle of the eye, it would be silly to fix the whole eye!

You can spot fix either by…cut and flip…

Or by cloning (and not flipping) that one area (in this case, the pupil of the eye) on to a new, blank layer.

Practice these flipping ways and try combinations to make everything work right, and pretty soon, you’ll be flipping wonderful!

About Janine Smith (114 Articles)
Janine Smith is the owner of Landailyn Research and Restoration, a Fort Worth, Texas based company whose services include family history research and photo restoration. Janine honed her skills in restoring badly damaged photos as a volunteer with Operation Photo Rescue, a non-profit organization whose mission is to repair photographs damaged by unforeseen circumstances such as house fires and natural disasters. <br> Janine’s work is well-known in the world of genealogical and historical societies, museums, libraries, university archives, and non-profit organizations; appearing on the board of directors for several organizations and institutions. She is a sought-after lecturer on photo restoration and preservation to libraries, genealogical and historical societies. <br> In addition to being a Lynda.com author, Janine is the author of many articles on research and restoration appearing in newspapers and magazines, both on and offline. Janine's history and photo restoration columns appear regularly on TipSquirrel.com and in the popular Shades Of The Departed Digital Magazine. <br> Janine is the winner of the 2010 “Photoshop User Award” in the photo-restoration category.

2 Comments on All Kinds of Flips

  1. Excellent, thanks Janine. I’ve tried this sort of thing in the past and walked away in despair – although I did used to have a great photo collection of Marty Feldman impersonators…

    I’ll have to dig them back out and try again!

  2. Greyson, thank you. This rotation of the Clone Source was a very instructive new capability I’ve learned here. Following you on Twitter has really paid off! And thank you for the Follow there as well.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.