Most teeth, by design, have a slight
yellow cast. Add coffee, wine, tobacco, and a host of staining foods,
and the smile isn't quite as bright as it could be.
In everyday life, this isn't a major issue. But for
special portraits, a warm, inviting smile is important. This
Photoshop hack is so easy, you'll wonder why you
never figured it out before. As long as you show a little restraint
with the technique, the results look quite natural.
First, open your portrait in any version of Photoshop.
I'll use Photoshop Elements for this illuminating
exercise. Use your favorite tool to select the teeth. I usually start
with the Magic Wand. Click on a middle-toned tooth
with the wand and see what it selects. By holding down the Shift key,
you can make another selection to add to the first one. At this
point, I switch to the Lasso tool to clean things up. You can add to
the existing selection by holding down the Shift key and lassoing
more areas. Or, by holding down the Option key, you can deselect
areas that you don't want affected by the upcoming
Now it's time to remove some of that natural yellow
tint. In Photoshop Elements, open the
Hue/Saturation dialog box
(Enhance→Adjust Color→Hue/Saturation). The path is
a little different in Photoshop CS
(Image→Adjustments→Hue/Saturation). Choose the
Yellow channel from the Edit drop-down menu and move the indicator on
the Saturation slider bar to the left, as shown in . This will desaturate the Yellow
channel—or, in English, get rid of the stain.
Figure 1. Desaturating the yellow tint in the Hue/Saturation dialog box
I've found that setting the Yellow channel to
somewhere between -70 and -80 does the trick nicely. Once
you've toned down the yellow, select
Edit→Master and move the indicator on the Lightness slider
bar to the right, as shown in . As you
move the indicator to the right, you're brightening
the teeth. Be careful with this adjustment, however, because you can
overdo it and create an unnatural, super-bright smile.
Figure 2. Using the Lightness control to brighten teeth
Click OK to exit the Hue/Saturation dialog box and review your
handiwork. You might want to hide the selection marker (known by
Photoshop pros as the marching ants) to get a
better look at the adjustment. Just press Ctrl-H or choose
View→Selection. If you need to make further adjustments,
reopen Hue/Saturation and give it another go.
Once the smile is clean and bright, deselect the teeth by choosing
Select→Deselect. Then, use Save As to give the file a new
name. You never know when you might want to go back to the original
portrait, so keep it in a safe place.
Remember, the best corrections are the ones that look