132. Whiten Teeth
Before You Begin
111 About Tool Options
131 Remove Wrinkles, Freckles, and Minor Blemishes
133 Awaken Tired Eyes
135 Brighten a Face with Digital Makeup
There are many products on the market you can use to whiten your teethgels, toothpastes, whitening strips, and bleachesbut none work as fast and as effectively as digital editing. It's not vanity to want to improve Mother Nature; in our culture today, a great importance is placed on having clean, white teeth, and if a photo will be used in a resume or to advertise a product, you'll want to give the best impression you can by making sure that your subject looks his or her best.
Whitening teeth is tricky, however; you don't want the effect to look obvious and artificial. You'll want to avoid the temptation to use pure white to paint over all your teeth, which results in a picket-fence effect that can look genuinely scary. The technique explained here uses the Dodge tool, which selectively lightens the brightness of the pixels over which it passes. You must be cautious, however, so that you don't burn out the color and create a fake whiteness.
I always get good results with the Dodge tool, but if you don't like its effects, try selecting the teeth, choosing Enhance, Adjust Color, Color Variations, choosing Highlights, and clicking the Increase Blue and Lighten buttons. See 145 Correct Color, Contrast, and Saturation in One Step. You can also try choosing Enhance, Adjust Color, Adjust Hue/Saturation, and then increasing the lightness in the Master channel and decreasing the saturation in the Yellow channel. See adjust Hue and Saturation Manually.
Select the Dodge Tool
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. Zoom in on the teeth so that you can see them clearly, and then select the Dodge tool in the Toolbox.
On the Options bar, choose a soft round brush. Adjust the Size of the Dodge tool so that the brush tip is about the size of one tooth. Set the Range to Midtones so that you affect only the midtones, and set Exposure to about 20% so that you don't lighten the teeth too fast and accidentally burn out the color.
Whiten the Teeth
Position the brush tip over the first tooth and click once. The tooth should get just a bit lighter. Click again to lighten a bit more, or move to the next tooth. Repeat until all the teeth are whiter. You can also drag the brush over the teeth.
Remove any remaining imperfections (such as uneven color or spots on the teeth) with the Clone Stamp tool. See 162 Remove Unwanted Objects from an Image.
View the Result
When you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want and save the PSD file. Resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
To isolate the effects of the Dodge tool, select the teeth before beginning. You might want to select the gums as well (if they are reddish and irritated) so that you can lighten them too.
Instead of using the Dodge tool to whiten teeth, you can try selecting them, choosing Enhance, Adjust Color, Adjust Hue/Saturation, and then increasing the lightness in the Master channel and decreasing the saturation in the Yellow channel. See 146 Adjust Hue, Saturation, and Lightness Manually.
In this portrait, the golden light of sunset made our teeth look yellowish. A few minutes with the Dodge tool fixed that easily. Compare the original to the whitened version; you can see that the teeth look better, and yet still natural. I also used the technique discussed in 131 Remove Wrinkles, Freckles, and Minor Blemishes to freshen my face a bit. The last things to address are the circles under my husband's eyes, caused mostly by the low angle of the sun. To fix that problem, I'll follow the steps in the next task, 133 Awaken Tired Eyes. Look for the final result in the Color Gallery.