In this tutorial, you will learn how to whiten teeth in photoshop, but most importantly realistically. This technique works on all shades of teeth. This tutorial’s difficulty level is; beginner. During this tutorial, you will learn to use techniques that will further your knowledge in Photoshop. At the end of this, you will not only know how to whiten teeth but you will also learn how to use;
Various Adjustments Layers
Free Image Resource
If you don’t have a suitable image at hand but wish to follow the tutorial, you can download up to 10 high-quality stock images FREE with Adobe Stock.Download Resource
To start open the photo that you wish to edit. Zoom into your image by either using the short keys ⌘ Command and either + or – on a Mac, or Ctrl and either + or – on a PC to zoom in or out.
You can also hold down ⌥ Option on a Mac, or Alt on a PC and simply scroll with your mouse.
Make a rough selection
Select the lasso tool using shortcut L and make a rough selection around all the teeth.
Don’t worry about being perfect, we will fix up all the little details at the end. Whilst your selection is active you can press and hold either ⌥ Option on a Mac, or Alt on a PC to remove from your selection with the lasso tool or hold down Shift whilst the selection is active to add to the selection with the lasso tool. This is especially helpful as it allows you to not have to start over with the lasso tool if you make a mistake.
** “Selection is active” means you have an active selection on your artwork, this can be easily identified by the running dashed line across your selection.
Create a group
Whilst the selection around the teeth is active, create a new group by clicking the group icon (Folder icon bottom right corner).
Once the group has been created, by default it will be named Group-1, rename it to prevent any confusion later down the line. You can do this by double-clicking the name of the group.
Create a layer/vector mask
The selection around the teeth will still be active. Press the layer/vector mask icon (a rectangular shape with a circle in the center, bottom right corner). This will create a vector mask of the selection onto the group.
(When creating layer masks on groups they are actually called vector masks), but you will more commonly know the icon as the layer mask icon). Kind of the same thing, in essence, the only difference is a layer mask affects only the layer it’s on, where a vector mask affects the group, meaning all layers inside the group. However, they are controlled and appear the same as each other.
Edits to the teeth on adjustment layers
This is the stage where we whiten the teeth. All of our edits are going to be made on adjustment layers that will be arranged into the group we created that has the layer/vector mask that will only affect the eyes in your image.
Using adjustment layers is the best way to create edits on your photographs as it allows easy changes at any point, keeps the workspace tidy, and prevents losing track of what has been done so far to your project.
Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer
Whilst the group is selected, click on the adjustment layer icon (circle icon, bottom right corner) and select ‘Hue/Saturation’.
This will open the hue/saturation panel as seen below. Click on ‘Colorize’, drag the Hue all the way to the left to 0, and drag the saturation down to somewhere between 10 – 20.
Now we have whitened the teeth we need to add some shine back into them to make them look more realistic.
Curves Adjustment Layer
Now we will create another adjustment layer so again click on the adjustment layer icon and select ‘Curves’
This will open the curves panel as seen below. Drag the center of the line upwards to create an arc. This is bringing out all the high bright points in your image out to create the shine.
Don’t panic, it’s supposed to look like a giant beam of light emitting from the mouth. Change the blend mode of the curves adjustment layer from normal to soft light. This will re-correct the brightness of the curves and make the teeth look shiny. Next, drop the opacity of the curves adjustment layer down to about 40%.
Adjusting the Master Opacity
Click on the group layer so that the entire group is active and lower the opacity down to achieve a more realistic look. We are doing this to bring back some color into the teeth as naturally, all teeth have some color to them. If the teeth were just pure white, this would look obviously fake.
Gaussian Blur on the vector mask
It’s finally time to start to clean up the edits of our teeth as our selection was only a rough one. Click once on the group’s vector mask so that it’s active (next to the name of your group to the left you will see a rectangular black box, this is what you click on once).
At the top of your screen, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
The result of adding the Gaussian blur has given a softer edge to the teeth around the gums.
Clean up the vector mask
Grab your paintbrush tool by clicking the brush icon to the left of your screen or using the shortcut; B. Once your brush has been selected, right-click on your image and reduce the hardness down to 0% and choose an appropriately sized brush.
Next, once your brush is selected, at the top of the screen; lower the opacity of the brush, by dragging the opacity down to somewhere around 50% as seen below.
Finally set your foreground color to black. You can do this manually by selecting black in the color panel or by pressing the shortcut; D, which resets your foreground and background colors to black and white and then use the shortcut; X to switch the two around.
Begin slowly to start brushing around the areas you want to remove the edits from. (Think of this as an eraser where you’re slowly scrubbing away what you don’t want). Don’t worry if you remove too much, if this happens, just change the foreground color to white by pressing the shortcuts: D to reset the colors and then: X to switch white to the foreground color. Just brush the edits back, it’s as simple as that, switch between black to remove and white to add. Once you have taken your time at this stage, you will be done!
Congratulations, you’re done!
Well done, you made it to the end of the tutorial. More importantly, you now know how to whiten teeth in Photoshop, great job!
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