Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Photoshop Elements

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Removing Braces

Remember how I said there’s a fine line between tasteful retouching and retouching that is just flat-out fake? Well, in this tutorial we’re going to make an exception because braces aren’t really a part of anyone’s life that they care to remember. They’re not part of us. They’re a temporary fix for something and most people can’t wait to get them off, so it’s okay to take a creative approach here—especially if it’s a portrait that you’re going to look back on one day. Why remember the braces—just remember the smile.

  • Step 1. Open a photo of someone with braces. If you’re lucky, they have those newer braces that are transparent or the color of teeth. If not, they’re the silver kind. As you can see here in this photo, we’re working with the old silver kind.
  • Step 2. The first part is something I learned from Jane Conner-Ziser and it’s a great little trick. First, choose File>New>Blank File and create a new document. Enter 50 pixels for the Width and Height, 72 ppi for Resolution, and choose RGB Color as the Color Mode. Click OK to make the document.
  • Step 3. Choose Edit>Fill Layer to open the Fill Layer dialog. Change the Use setting to 50% Gray and hit OK. This fills the layer with a neutral gray color.
  • Step 4. Now choose Filter>Artistic>Film Grain. Set the Grain to 1, the Highlight Area to 0, and the Intensity to 5, then hit OK.
  • Step 5. Press Ctrl-A (Mac: Command-A) to Select All. Go to the Edit menu and choose Define Pattern from Selection. In the Pattern Name dialog, give your pattern a descriptive name like “Removing Braces Pattern” and click OK.
  • Step 6. Okay, we’ve just created a pattern that is going to help us remove the braces. Now it’s time to remove them. Switch back to your photo and press the letter Z to get the Zoom tool and zoom in on the braces. Then select the Healing Brush tool from the Toolbox (or press J until you have it). In the Options Bar, set the Mode to Screen and click on the Pattern radio button. Then click the small down-facing arrow next to the Pattern thumbnail and from the Pattern Picker, click on the pattern that you just saved in Step 5. Don’t forget to turn on the Sample All Layers checkbox.
  • Step 7. Also in the Options Bar, set the Healing Brush to a soft-edged brush in a size that is just larger than one of the braces. Click on the Create a New Layer icon at the top of the Layers palette to create a new blank layer. Then, click in the center of one of the braces to start removing it. As you click, you’ll see it start to disappear. Click a few more times until it’s gone. Don’t worry that the wire is still there—we’ll take care of that in another step. Right now, we’re just going to get rid of the big areas.
  • Step 8. Do the same for the rest of the braces on the teeth. Make sure you change the brush size to take into account the teeth that are receding into the background. The closer you keep your brush strokes over only the braces, the better things will turn out. Use the shortcut Ctrl-[ (Left Bracket; Mac: Command-[) to increase the brush size or Ctrl-] (Right Bracket; Mac: Command-]) to decrease it.
  • Step 9. Now, decrease your brush size so it’s just slightly larger than the wire. Click on the wire with the Healing Brush and start removing it just like you did the braces.
  • Step 10. Okay, we’ve got a good start here and we’ve done a lot of the heavy work. Now it’s time to take care of the details. At this point, your image should look similar to mine and your Layers palette should have just two layers—the original photo and the layer on top that we’ve been doing all of our healing work on.
  • Step 11. The first thing we need to do is add some spaces between the teeth. They all seem to blend together at this point. Select the Eyedropper tool (I) and click to sample the color between two of the teeth where a space is still intact. This will change your Foreground color to that color you just sampled.
  • Step 12. Select the Brush tool (B), and choose a very small soft-edged brush—about 2–4 pixels should do. In the Options Bar, drop the Opacity of the brush down to 30%. Click on the Create a New Layer icon at the top of the Layers palette and start painting a space between those two teeth. (Double-click on the new layer’s name if you want to rename it so you know what is on each layer.) Make sure you build up each paint stroke by painting over it several times, since your brush opacity is so low.
  • Step 13. Repeat Steps 11 and 12 for the spaces between each tooth. It’s best to continually resample an area from the existing space between the teeth because the color changes between each one.
  • Step 14. Now that we’ve made a good start in rebuilding the teeth, it’s time to start getting the color back. Create another blank layer on top of the rest. Use the Eyedropper tool to sample a color toward the center of one of the teeth, but make sure it’s not over an area we healed with the Healing Brush back in Step 7. Select the Brush tool, set its opacity to 40%, and start painting on the tooth that you just sampled from (increase your brush size if needed). Again, click multiple times with the Brush tool to build up the effect.
  • Step 15. Repeat the previous step for each tooth. Because of shadows, highlights, and lighting, each tooth may be a slightly different color so make sure you sample a color from each tooth. When you get to the edges you’re going to have to, well, fake it. You can probably tell that those areas are pretty much gone so you’ll have to use the color from the tooth closest to it to just fill in that space. Make sure you don’t go over the lips though.
  • Step 16. Whew! We’re almost there. The last thing we need to do is to apply some final touches. Start out by creating a flattened version of your photo with all of the layers compressed. Since we don’t want to lose the original work, in case we need to tweak it, there’s a cool keyboard shortcut for this. Click once on the topmost layer to select it, and then press Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E (Mac: Command-Option-Shift-E; also known as the entire keyboard). Seriously though, this is a great shortcut and it creates one flattened layer on top of the rest.
  • Step 17. Finally, select the Dodge tool from the Toolbox (or press the letter O until you have it) and set the Exposure setting in the Options Bar to 20%. Paint over the middle teeth to lighten them a bit. If needed, select the Burn tool (press the letter O again, until you have it) and do the same for the teeth on the edges to darken them a bit if they’re too light. You can always look at your original photo to see the lighting and determine if the outer teeth are darker than the ones in the center.
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020