How To Whiten Teeth in Photoshop

Looking for how to obtain perfect white teeth in Photoshop?

Apogee Photo Coach, Jim Austin, shows us quick 7- step photoshop editing tips to get brighter, whiter teeth in a portrait.

White Teeth in Photoshop
Whiter, brighter teeth are easy with non-destructive layers in Photoshop.

In Adobe Photoshop®, we can retouch using two Adjustment Layers for Hue and Saturation, and Levels, in the layers palette. We’ll start this non-destructive editing process with selection tools. Action steps in Photoshop are in bold text.


START, Step 1: Selecting. First, we open the image and look at the tools palette selection tools. Click or tap on the free-form lasso or magnetic lasso in the tools palette. Zoom in on your picture so the teeth are huge and fill the screen. Carefully select the teeth area, and not gums, by drawing the marching ants around the tooth area you want to make brighter.

I prefer to use the magnetic lasso tool for accuracy of selection, but if you prefer, the free-form lasso tool may be easier for the first attempt.

Step 2: Feathering. To put a feather to your selection, click in the top menu: Select > Modify > Feather (alt/shift F6). I set feathering to a value of 3 pixels to 5 pixels, so that the color and tone adjustments blend smoothly into the original image, and there are no sudden changes of contrast or color between the image and the edited changes.

Step 3: Saving. Save this selection finding the word Select in the top menu. Click or tap: Select > Save Selection and in the box labeled “Name” type in words like ” teeth” or any name or single letter you want, it’s flexible.

Look to the top menu in Photoshop and click/tap Window > Show Layers to bring up your layers palette.

Step 3: Whitening teeth. Now, again in the top menu click or tap Layer > New Adjustment Layer. From the pop up, choose Hue and Saturation 1. This lets you edit the color of the teeth to remove any yellow hues.

In the pop-up dialogue box, find the word “Master” in the second option box down from the top. Click and change the word master to Yellows.

Now, slide this Yellow Saturation Slider left to minus one hundred (-100).  As you drag it to the left, you will see less yellow in the teeth area but not in the portrait itself.

Next, we’ll do the same thing to brighten the teeth, except this time with a Levels Adjustment Layer.

Step 4: Brightening Teeth. Next, we create a second Adjustment Layer. Look at your layers palette and click on the background, bottom layer in the palette. Next, with this background layer highlighted, we’re going to load the selection you saved. This will not work unless the background layer is selected.

Step 5: Re-Loading Your Selection of the Teeth. Click or tap Select > Load Selection and Click OK. You should see your selection of marching ants return around the teeth in your portrait.

Step 6: Brighter Teeth. Just like you did with Step 3, in Photoshop’s top menu click or tap Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels. When the dialog box called New Layer/Levels 1 appears, Click OK. A levels dialogue should appear on your screen.

Inside it, you’ll see three sliders. The one at far right, just above the number 255, is a white triangle, which represents the white or highlight areas of the image.

Drag this white triangular-shaped slider to the left, to about 220, 230 or 240, and your portrait’s teeth will whiten. Don’t worry if the teeth look too bright, we’ll correct that in the next and final step. Good, you are almost done. . .

Step 7: Tweak and FINISH. If you overdo either the brightness or the whiteness of the teeth, this is easy to correct. You can drop it down a notch in the layers palette, simply by reducing the opacity of either one or both of the adjustment layers.

First, try changing the opacity of the Levels Adjustment Layer from 100% opacity to 50% or 75% opacity just to get a feel for this non-destructive editing. Save your file as .PSD, .TIFF and .JPG .

Great, you are all done – enjoy those Photoshop improved, new white teeth !


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