Photoshop tutorial: How to whiten teeth in Photoshop

Make yellow teeth look white again without making your subject look like Jimmy Carr or one of the Osmonds.


Whitening teeth is one of the most common tasks a photographer, artworker or designer needs to do. However, we’ve discovered that most online Photoshop tutorials about how to whiten teeth give you flat, overly bright, fake-looking results.

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So we’ve turned to photographer Tigz Rice to demonstrate how you can whiten teeth in Photoshop, giving your client the perfect smile, in a way that’s subtle and looks realistic.

All of Tigz’s usual models have naturally perfect teeth, so for this tutorial she’s used an photo from iStockPhoto.

The whiten the teeth, you’ll be using Photoshop’s Channels feature. Channel are a type of layer where Photoshop stores colour information for an image. In standard RGB mode, there are three channels (Red Green and Blue), which inform Photoshop how much of each colour to apply and where via greyscale map.

These channels can also be used to pick out certain areas of an image for retouching, such as applying brightening to the teeth, whilst protecting subtle or deep rich tones on the lips.

See also: How to brighten eyes in Photoshop.

STEP 1

Open your chosen image in Photoshop and select the background layer in the Layers panel to make it active.

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Still in the Layers panel, click on Channels, where you will find three layers named Red, Green and Blue. If you click on the Green channel, you should have brilliant white teeth with good contrast against the teeth and gums.


STEP 2

Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on the Green channel to select the Channel’s map.

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You should now have marching ants around selected areas of your image, roughly separating the teeth from the mouth and gums. This will allow us to make changes to the teeth colour without worrying about affecting the surrounding areas.

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STEP 3

In the Adjustments panel, click on the Create New Hue/Saturation Layer icon. The marching ants should now disappear and your Layers panel should look like this.

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STEP 4

In the properties panel, click on the Master dropdown box and choose Yellow. This will allow you to remove only the yellow from the teeth rather than all colours equally.

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Drop the Saturation down as much as you need to whiten the teeth. Then, add +5 on the Lightness slider.


STEP 5

Next, click on the Yellow dropdown menu and change it back to Master. Here you can up the overall lightness of the teeth if needed.

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STEP 6

Once you're happy with how the teeth look, switch back to the Layers panel and, with the Hue/Saturation layer highlighted, hold down Shift and click on the New Group icon to create a new group with the adjustment layer inside. Rename this group 'Teeth Whiten'.

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STEP 7

Next, with the group highlighted, hold down Alt and click on the Add Layer Mask icon to create a negative (black) layer mask over the group. This will now hide all the work you applied to the teeth, which may have also affected other areas of the image.

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STEP 8

With the layer mask selected, use the Brush tool (B) to roughly paint over the teeth with white. Any areas painted over will allow the new brightened curves layer to pop through. As you used a channel to mask the whitening effect earlier, you won’t need to be too cautious with your painting in

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

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