How to Effectively Capture Shade

This guide provides best practices for capturing and communicating shade so we can deliver the highest quality product the first time. Digital photography paired with shade tabs reduces remakes.

Before the patient arrives

Symbol Key: √ Required, + Nice to have


√ Chair light turned OFF

√ Natural, ambient lighting

In case you are remodeling:

+ Color corrective lighting with a color temperature of approximately 5500 K and a color-rendering index of 90 or higher

+ Rooms painted in light “blue /gray” to avoid dilution


√ A camera with the resolution of an iPhone 12 or higher 2

√ A shade guide less than 2 years old

TIP: Vita classical guide is preferred but not required

TIP: Do not use cold sterilization techniques

TIP: Rearrange shade guides from light to dark to help with discernment

+ A stump shade guide less than 2 years old

+ A hi-res DSLR camera (AACD Camera Guide)

+ Ring lighting system for camera (POV on types of flash)

+ Natural, black, or gray colored gloves


√ Ensure teeth are hydrated

√ Take shade pictures before prepping

TIP: Avoid direct sunlight and fluorescent lights

Creating the case


  1. Seat patient in the chair under the appropriate lighting.
    • TIP: Move through pictures quickly. Dryness will impact the shade.
  2. At eye level, take a picture of the patient’s natural smile (full face).
  3. At eye level, take a picture of their natural smile (up close).
  4. At eye level, take a picture with 3 shade tabs edge to edge with the unit to be restored. Include the correct shade, one lighter and one darker. 
    • TIP: Edge-to-edge helps prevent shadows.
  5. At eye level, take a picture from the side to help with dimension.
  6. If the bite is likely to be difficult in the restoration, include images of the teeth retracted with bites open and closed.
  7. Continue with the procedure.
  8. Take photo from 1-2 feet away; zoom in after if needed

Fun team building activity for the office

Some people are better at recognizing shade than others. Test yourself and office staff with the following approach.


  1. Take all the tabs out of a single shade guide.
  2. Leave another fully assembled in front of the person taking the test.
  3. Have the person taking the test try to match the tabs which have been removed with those in the shade guide.
  4. Count the number of matches for each participant.

Share your images with Dandy


  1. Ensure that the desired shade is selected on the order.
  2. Include photos on order.
  3. Submit the case.
  4. Add photos into the chat window along with any additional info on the shade/aesthetics of the case so the lab has visibility.


With these steps, our technicians now have a much better understanding of the restoration and its place in the mouth. This should lead to a better outcome for you and your patient.

How to Effectively Capture Shade PDF

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