How to Whiten Teeth and Eyes in Photoshop (And Why You Always Should)
Before I show you how to whiten teeth and eyes in 10 seconds in Photoshop I'd like to briefly explain why you’d want to whiten teeth and eyes. The answer is simple: Whiter teeth and clearer, whiter scleras (the so-called “whites of the eyes”) are indicators of good health. Good health, of course, makes us more appealing to other humans.
Unfortunately, teeth in photographs often render as less than pure white due to a combination of lighting, the shadows cast by lips, the refractory properties of dental enamel, and the fact that the raw teeth beneath the enamel are ivory rather than pure, neutral white. Thus, even the whitest teeth out there can look not quite camera-ready once photographed—just as the healthiest person’s eyes can be shaded or tinted by the conditions of the photograph.
That’s why this 10-second fix is so important to making every subject look his or her best.
Below is the original photo I’ll be improving. She’s a lovely girl, in a beautiful setting, and the photo is well framed. The only thing marring the shot is her slightly yellowed teeth and the presence of pink veins in her scleras. Both are easy to fix—even with the braces on.
Grab the Dodge Tool from Photoshop’s toolbar. It’s grouped with the Burn and Sponge tools, either of which might be hiding the Dodge Tool. If so, click and hold on the Burn Tool or Sponge Tool until the flyout of three tools appears, and then select the Dodge Tool.
On the Options bar, set the Range dropdown to Midtones and the exposure to 50%. The Dodge Tool lightens things, and the Range field determines what it lightens—the lightest tones (Highlights), the darkest tones (Shadows), or those tones that fall in the middle third (Midtones), which are the most common tones to be affecting teeth and scleras.
From the far left of the Options bar set a brush size that is large enough to cover a good portion of each tooth but small enough to easily control without painting outside the area of a tooth.
Start painting the dodge effect onto the teeth. You’ll see the shadows diminish, whitening the teeth, instantly. If the change is too drastic, undo applying the Dodge Tool with CMD+Z/CTRL+Z and reduce the Exposure percentage in the Options bar. If you aren’t seeing enough of a change in the tones of the shadows on teeth and scleras, increase the Exposure.
Continue painting the dodge effect until all the teeth and all the white parts of the eye are brightened. In just a few seconds you’ll have a much more appealing subject!
Sometimes the conditions of the photograph—or the subject himself or herself—causes a yellowing, sometimes even a bluing, of the teeth or scleras. In such cases using a dodge effect will only often simply highlight the yellow (or blue) rather than neutralizing it. To compensate, you’ll need to desaturate the color cast before using the Dodge Tool. Use the Sponge Tool just like you would the Dodge Tool, painting over the tinted whites with the Options bar Mode field set to Desaturate. Keep using the Sponge Tool in Desaturate mode until the teeth and scleras are colorless, showing only shades of grey. Then switch to the Dodge Tool for lightening those shades of grey.
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