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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Creating Beautiful Teeth

If someone is smiling in a photo I’ve taken, I always take a few moments to make sure their teeth line up nicely, without distracting gaps between teeth, or teeth that look too pointy, or too short compared to the teeth on either side, or anything that makes them not look perfectly beautiful. We use the Liquify filter for this because it lets you literally move the teeth around, tooth by tooth, as if they were made of a thick liquid. You can just kind of push and pull them in the direction you need them to go. Here’s how it works.


Open the image with teeth we want to retouch in Photoshop. First, let’s evaluate what we need to do: I see that the two front teeth are a little too long compared to the rest of the other teeth (the front two should be a little longer than the surrounding others, but just a little). So, that’s one thing to fix. Then, I would flatten the points on a few teeth and generally just try to even all the teeth out a bit. Her teeth are actually pretty nice, but the angle of this shot makes them look kind of crooked and uneven.


Go under the Filter menu and choose Liquify. When the Liquify dialog appears (shown here), start by zooming in tight (press Command-+ [plus sign; PC: Ctrl-+] a few times). Then, make sure you have the first tool at the top of the Toolbox selected (on the left side of the dialog; it’s called the Forward Warp tool, and it lets you nudge things around like they were made of molasses). The key to working with the Liquify filter is to make a number of very small moves—don’t just get a big brush and push stuff around. Make your brush size (in the Brush Size field on the right) just a little larger than what you’re retouching. Now, just gently nudge the teeth on the left side upward a few times each (as shown here) to shorten them and remove the pointiness (if that’s even a word).


Now we’re going to do more of the same. Let’s work on the two teeth in the front center. Let’s gently nudge them upward a bit to make them shorter, and then go over to that one tooth on the far right that’s pointy and sticking down. Make your brush size very small (one of the big secrets of mastering retouching with Liquify is to make your brush just a tiny bit larger than what you’re trying to move. If you get into trouble, it’s probably because your brush is too big), then tuck up that pointy tooth (as shown here).


So, that’s basically the process: you’ll move from tooth to tooth. To make a tooth longer, click inside it near the bottom of the tooth and nudge it down. If you need to close a gap, click on the side of the tooth with a very small brush and nudge it over. Here I’m flattening the tooth to the left of the front two teeth. My goal is to make everything pretty straight all the way across. A dentist would cringe if they saw what I did here, because it’s not “dentically” correct (hey, I just coined another new term), but we don’t have to worry about the teeth actually working to eat food, they just have to work in the context of our photo, which they do.

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