How to Make Someone Smile in Photoshop

Have you ever had a client that just wouldn’t smile for the camera? Maybe they don’t like their teeth, or maybe they were being forced to take pictures and were just plain grumpy.

Hey there, I’m Cara and I’ve had this happen a time or two in my work as a photographer. While I’m not sure I would ever force a client to smile artificially after the fact – it’s pretty cool to know how to do it. 

Now you might be thinking, hold on Cara, are you saying that we can make people smile in Photoshop? 

Absolutely! And you don’t even need a photo of the person smiling to do it. Check out this sorcery and learn how to make someone smile in Photoshop here!

Note: I use the Windows version of Photoshop. If you are using a Mac, the workspace will look slightly different from the screenshots displayed here.

Step 1: Download the Smart Portrait Neural Filter in Photoshop

Photoshop offers a feature you can use to adjust various elements of a portrait. You can change the direction of the subject’s head and eyes, or change the direction of the light falling on them. You can also make their hair thicker, make them look younger, and change their expression.

Sound a little creepy but cool at the same time? Yeah, I’m right there with you.

It is not automatically part of the software, but it comes as an add-on that you have to download. So let’s look at where to find it first. 

Go up to Filter in the menu bar and choose Neural Filters.

There are several of these neural filters, each offering different creative and practical tools. If you haven’t used these filters before, each of them will have a cloud symbol with a little arrow on the right side of the tab. This means the filter needs to be downloaded.

For the power to make someone smile, choose Smart Portrait. Click the Download button off to the right. You don’t have to do anything else, Photoshop will take care of the installation automatically. 

Step 2: Using the Smart Portrait Filter in Photoshop

When it’s finished, you’ll now see a toggle button where the cloud icon was. Toggle this on for the Smart Portrait sliders to appear.

At the top of the window, Photoshop will display the selected face that the filter will affect. Beneath there are four sections with sliders that each affect the image in a different way.

We’re interested in the first section called Featured. Check out that Happiness slider. Yes, folks, there is a Happiness slider in Photoshop! Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were one in real life too?

Anyway, let’s drag that slider to the right and see what happens to our image. The slider can go up to +50. For this example, I’ve set it to +30.

And, just because I know you’re dying to know, what happens when we move the slider to the left? Does she start crying?

While there aren’t any tears, she does kind of look like she just ate some sour grapes. And that’s certainly what many people look like when they are unhappy.

Where Does the Smile Come from?

How is Photoshop doing this? Well, you may notice that you have to be connected to the Internet for the feature to work. The program works in the cloud, accessing thousands of other images and using AI to create a semi-realistic smile for your subject. 

I say semi-realistic because the result isn’t quite perfect. After all, the program can’t know exactly what your subject’s teeth look like, etc. While the person is now wearing a smile, it won’t be that person’s exact smile. 

In my opinion, it would be difficult to use this feature seriously. It might be fun to pop a smile on someone’s face for a laugh but to use it as a “real” portrait is a bit of a stretch. The subject and anyone who knows them will know there is some funny business going on. 

But, as with many things in Photoshop, it sure is fun to play around and see what you can create! Curious about fixing other features in Photoshop? Check out how to open someone’s eyes here (no AI involved!).

About Cara Koch
Cara fell in love with photography circa 2014 and has been exploring all corners of the imagery world ever since. When she felt limited by Lightroom, she dove headfirst into Photoshop to learn how to create the images she wanted.

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