Whiten eyes and teeth with Photoshop

Digitally remove stains and even tooth colour from a photograph to create a winning smile! We walk you through the process in three simple steps.

Real teeth can have a wide range of colours, from grey to yellowy-white and beyond, and it’s usual for a person’s teeth to vary quite widely in colour. We’re conditioned to expect a flawless, uniform look these days, though, so we’ll show you how to create a smile fit for a Hollywood star. We’ll show you how to use Photoshop CS6 (or earlier versions of Photoshop, including Photoshop Elements) to whiten teeth with a quick scrub of the Sponge tool.

Teeth aren’t usually the focus of a portrait, though – the eyes are the first thing most people look at in a portrait, so they too can benefit from a little enhancement. We’ll show you how to use the Dodge tool to lighten the whites of the eyes to give them extra impact.

When retouching the eyes, though, it’s important not to go over the top and make the eyes look like they are glowing. Whenever you’re retouching, think ‘less is more’ so that you don’t create an unrealistic result. If your enhancements are subtle enough, the subject won’t even be able to say why the shot looks better.

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01. The eyes have it!

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Take the Dodge tool (O) and, for this shot, set it to a Size of about 65 pixels. Set Range to Highlights so the tool doesn’t tinker with the eye’s shadows or midtones.

Set Exposure to 20% for a subtler edit. Brush with smooth strokes over the white of each eye to increase the intensity of the whites gently.

02. Tackle the teeth

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Grab the Polygonal Lasso and use it to draw a rough selection around the teeth, then press Ctrl+J to float the selection to a new layer and label this new layer ‘Teeth’.

Now switch to the Sponge tool, and set its Mode to Desaturate. A size of about 70 pixels will do the trick in this case.

03. Desaturate the yellow

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Brush carefully in short strokes over the yellow teeth to whiten them. It won’t matter if you stray over the gums, but if you inadvertently desaturate the lips, simply undo the last stroke (that’s why it’s worth using short strokes).

Toggle the layer visibility on and off to assess the effect.

Now check out our massive list of 101 Photoshop tutorials!

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