Whitening Teeth

Just watch the movie.
Whenever the need arises to make a natural element white or whiter, it’s tempting to set the foreground color to white and reach for the airbrush. This works if applied with care, but it’s easier to achieve a more realistic effect using other Photoshop tools. Here, a small amount of whitening applied to the model’s teeth and eyes will lift the whole image.

Method 1: Dodge
The first technique successfully whitens your teeth without placing demands on your brushwork. As with most retouching tasks, it’s best to work on a duplicate layer in case you make a mistake.

STEP 1
Create the new layer, select the Dodge tool, then go to the Tool Options bar and set the Range to Midtones. The default Exposure setting is 50%, which is a good starting point. Now run the Dodge tool over the teeth until they look whiter. The Dodge tool is very powerful, so more than three brush strokes could leave the teeth looking overdone. If that’s the case, use Undo (Ctrl/Cmd +Z) to step back, then reduce the Exposure setting in the Tool Options before returning to work.

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

STEP 2
Work over the eyes in the same way, zooming out often to get a look at the image as a whole. The close-up view can often be misleading.

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

Method 2: Screen mode
If you’re not comfortable with applying brush strokes for whitening, there are other options. In this technique, all you need to do by hand is to make a selection around the areas to be retouched. This technique works equally well with teeth or the whites of eyes.

STEP 1
Press Ctrl/Cmd + J to copy and paste the selection to a new layer, called "teeth." Change the new teeth layer’s blend mode to Screen.

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

STEP 2
This effect is too strong in itself, but by reducing the layer’s opacity you have complete control over the degree of whitening. The next example shows the layer opacity set to 60%.

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

Method 3: Curves
We can also use Curves to brighten the teeth and change their color. This method is particularly useful if you want to fine-tune the effect in more detail.

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

STEP 1
Make another selection of the teeth, then choose Image > Adjustments > Curves (Ctrl/Cmd + M). We need a white adjustment, so keep the Channel set to RGB and drag the top right corner of the diagonal line to the left as shown.

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

STEP 2
You’ll notice that this results in a slight yellowing of the teeth. Blue is the complement of yellow, so pick the Blue channel from the Channel drop-down, then create the curve as shown. To copy mine exactly, click on the top endpoint of the curve, then type 234 in the Input number field. (For a full explanation on using Levels and Curves to control color, see pages 26-27.) The final image shows the same settings applied to the whites of the eyes.

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes

Retouching Portraits - How To Whiten Teeth & Eyes
 
 

Another way:

In this Adobe Photoshop tutorial, we’re going to learn how to make teeth whiter and brighter using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, a brush and a layer mask.

Here’s
the image I’ll be using for this tutorial. The woman’s teeth look nice
and white already, but the man’s teeth appear a bit dull and yellow and
could use a little whitening:
The original image. Image licensed from iStockphoto.com by Photoshop Essentials.com.

Let’s get started!

Want a better way to learn? Download this tutorial as an easy to read, ready to print PDF eBook!

Step 1: Select The Area Around The Teeth With The Lasso Tool

First, grab the Lasso tool from the Tools palette in Photoshop, or press the letter L on your keyboard to quickly select it:
Selecting the Lasso Tool from the Tools palette in Photoshop. Image © 2008 Photoshop Essentials.com.

Photoshop Tutorials: Select the Lasso tool from the Tools palette, or press "L" on your keyboard.

With
the Lasso tool selected, I’m going to draw a selection around the guy’s
teeth. I don’t need to be precise with my selection here because this
selection is only temporary. All I need is to have his teeth inside the
selected area:
Using the Lasso Tool in Photoshop to select an area around the man's teeth. Image © 2008 Photoshop Essentials.com.

Photoshop Tutorials: Selecting the area around his teeth. No need to be precise here because this selection is temporary.

Step 2: Choose A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

With the area around his teeth selected, I’m going to go to the bottom of the Layers palette and click on the New Adjustment Layer icon:
New Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette in Photoshop. Image © 2008 Photoshop Essentials.com.

Photoshop Tutorials: Click the New Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Then I’ll select a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer from the list:
Selecting a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer in Photoshop. Image © 2008 Photoshop Essentials.com.

Photoshop Tutorials: Choose "Hue/Saturation" from the list.

This
brings up the Hue/Saturation dialog box, and we’re going to use it to
remove the yellow from his teeth and brighten them at the same time.


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