Restore Damaged Photos

Do you keep old photographs no matter what shape they’re in? Most of us have pictures of our ancestor’s stored away somewhere. They are preserved carefully away from the dust and the kids. These are the same black and white pictures that have gone through years of wear and tear and they show clear signs of it as well. If only you had a penny for every time you wished those pictures could be restored. Well, wish no more.

The good thing is that with the kind of technology we have available to us today, this is not an impossible task. For this tutorial, we will once again fall back on our friendly tool: Photoshop. First of all, of course, you need to scan the picture you want to restore onto your computer. I’ll wait while you do that.

Okay, here is my example. As you can see, the picture is pretty damaged. Especially the edges toward the right. We’ll start the resurrection by using the healing brush tool. This tool helps you copy the selected image of an area of the picture to another part of it.

Now that you have selected the healing brush tool (as shown above), you can select the area of the picture that you want to replicate by using Alt + a left click on the healing brush to that area. The part on which you ALT + left click gets copied to the clipboard.

To paste it over the affected area that you want to “heal,” just stroke the brush over it. Make sure you use it tastefully so that it doesn’t look overdone or too different from the surrounding areas.

Another way to “heal” is to make the brush size pretty large and click just once on the affected area instead of brushing it. It can be pretty effective if surrounding patterns aren’t too different from the one that you are going to paste. However, when it comes to detailed restoration (like in the screenshot below), it helps to just brush over the torn area. It’s also a good idea to zoom in to be able to restore the damaged area more precisely.

After you follow the above mentioned technique, your picture should look something like this:

Another way to do the exact same thing is to use the clone stamp tool. It functions in the same manner (Alt+click) and it gets the job done in a similar way.

Another trick to restoring old pictures is efficient use of the blur tool. The blur helps you soften up the areas that are giving you trouble. When something is not blending quite the right way, just use the blur tool and see the magic.

Now, you need to follow the above techniques individually or in combination with each other. If you do, you will be able to restore almost any damaged image from yesteryears. This is what I ended up with:

After the image is restored, the possibilities are endless. You can correct the color balance, brightness, contrast, etc. Now, can you imagine the smiles on the faces of your family members when you show them your handiwork? I bet they’ll be big and bright! : )

~ Yogesh Bakshi