Saturday, November 5, 2011

How to Whiten Your Teeth in Photoshop

Admitedly, dental whitening products are so expensive; it costs more or less a thousand dollars per session! In this Adobe Photoshop tutorial, I will teach you how to make your teeth whiter and brighter using a Hue/Saturation adjustment later, a brush and a layer mask.

We are going to use this photo of a man. Everything seemed perfect, except for his teeth which appear a bit dull and yellow and could use a little whitening via Photoshop.

Alright, so let's get started, shall we?

Tutorial details: 
Program: Adobe Photoshop 7 or higher
Difficulty: Beginner
Estimate Completion Time: 20 minutes

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

First, click the Lasso tool from the Tools palette in Photoshop, or press the letter L on your keyboard to quickly select it:

We just need to draw a selection around the guy's teeth. No need to be precise with the selection because it's only temporary. The important thing is, his teeth are inside the selected area:

Step 2: Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

With the area around his teeth selected, we're going to go to the bottom of the Layers palette and click on the New Adjustment Layer icon:

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.

Step 3: Select Yellows From The Hue/Saturation Edit List

We need to remove the yellow tint of his teeth to make his teeth whiter. In order to do that, with the Hue/Saturation dialog box open, click the down-pointing arrow to the right of the word "Master" at the top of the dialog box and select Yellows from the list. This will allow us to make changes only to the yellow in the image:

We can see in the image now that not only have I brightened his teeth, I've also brightened the area around them, since that was the area I initially selected with my Lasso tool:

Don't worry. We're going to fix that next.

Step 5: Fill The Hue/Saturation Layer Mask With Black

One of the great things about using adjustment layers in Photoshop is that each one comes with its own layer mask. If we look in the Layers palette, we can see that we have two layers. The original image is on the Background layer, and directly above it is our Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. The black rectangle with the small area of white in it on the right of the adjustment layer is the layer mask thumbnail, which is showing us a preview of our mask. That small area of white is the area we've selected around the man's teeth.

Make sure the layer mask is selected. The way you can tell if a mask is selected or not is by looking for a white highlight border around the mask preview thumbnail in the Layers palette. If you see a white highlight border around the thumbnail, it means the mask is currently selected. If you don't see the border, click on the thumbnail to select it:

We're going to remove that initial selection around his teeth by filling the layer mask with black. This will temporarily hide all the work we did from view. With the layer mask selected, go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and select Fill, which brings up the Fill dialog box. For "Contents", click on the down-pointing arrow and choose Black from the list:

With black selected, click OK to exit out of the dialog box. Photoshop fills the layer mask with black:

Don't worry, all the work we did is still there, we just can't see it at the moment. We're going to fix that though by using a brush to paint the whitening and brightening back in, and we'll do that next.

Step 6: Brush Tool and White Foreground

Select Photoshop's Brush tool from the Tools palette, or press B on your keyboard to quickly select it. Make sure you have white selected as your foreground color, since we're going to be painting on the layer mask with white in order to reveal the effects of the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer over the guy's teeth. To quickly set it to white, first make sure you have the Hue/Saturation layer mask selected in the layers palette, and then press the letter D on your keyboard, which will set your foreground color to white and your background color to black:

Step 7: Paint With White Over The Teeth To Restore The Whitening And Brightening

With our brush selected, the layer mask selected in the Layers palette, and white as our foreground color, all we need to do now is paint over the teeth with our brush to bring back the whitening and brightening. You'll probably need to change the size of your brush as you're painting. To change the brush size, press the right bracket key on your keyboard to make the brush larger and the left bracket key to make it smaller. You'll find the bracket keys to the right of the letter "P" on your keyboard. If you want to adjust the edge hardness of the brush, hold down your Shift key and press the right or left bracket keys. Shift+right bracket makes the brush edges harder, and Shift+left bracket makes the edges softer.

Simply paint over the teeth with the brush to reveal the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer over those areas, making the teeth whiter and brighter.

Continue painting over the teeth until you've whitened and brightened them all.

Step 9: Lower The Opacity Of The Adjustment Layer

Remember that teeth should be off white and not the 'strong' white color, making unnaturally white. You can easily fine-tune the effect by lowering the opacity of the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. You'll find the Opacity option near the top of the Layers palette. I'm going to lower my opacity down to about 80%:

And for the final result:



  1. OMG. This will be helpful

  2. you can also apply dodging using the dodge tool (strength between 12-20) to the teeth.

  3. @akosiisko - Thank you! :)

    @Doi - You're welcome, ate!

    @Rudolph - Kuya Rudolph, I sometimes use that technique, but I don't know, mas hiyang ako rito kesa sa dodge tool. ;-)

  4. Hi! Where do can I download Adobe Photshop 7 or higher? :)

  5. Hey Kim, you can purchase a copy of Adobe Photoshop online but if you want it for free, try downloading it at piratebay :D


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