Old photo restoration using Photoshop: 7 Basic things you need to know

Photoshop is not meant only to craft some goofy images; a lot more is there. It can be used for old photo restoration and this tool can be highly effective if used properly. There are a lot of tools that helps in refining the snaps taken or restoring the damaged ones but PS has always remained a favorite for professional companies indulged in the task.

old photo restoration using photoshop
how to restore old photos in photoshop

Restoring damaged or old images in PS is easier and let us see how the claim is justified

Tips on how to restore damaged photos:

The underlying guide pertaining to photo restoration tips and tricks can help you immensely as it is easier and least complicated.

1.   The Digital Route

Kick start the mission by firstly scanning the photo. This way you can save a copy in a digital format. There are multiple ways to achieve it:

  • By using normal photo scanner.
  • By using a digital camera to take a photo of the particular pic
  • Using the scanner application available in smartphone

You can choose any of these said methods – but ensure that they give a copy that is has top quality resolution. It will make things easier while editing.

2.   Use Photoshop

Then you need to open the digital copy of the picture in Photoshop to create yet another copy of it. This is to keep the original photo for taking reference while you edit the alternate copy. Photoshop is regarded as the best software to restore old photos.

Guidelines to duplicate a picture in Photoshop:

  • Go to the taskbar and select ‘Layer’
  • Then choose ‘Duplicate Layer’
  • In order to differentiate the new copy from old one, you have to rename the latest layer. For this, double click on the name portion of the layer.

3.   To rotate, crop or straighten the image

Ensure that you have a clean and clear image on hand before you start the editing work. Remove any kind of unwanted spaces or white gaps around the image by cropping them out.

Ways to crop an image:

  • Choose the ‘Crop’ option in the toolbox (that is located in the workspace on left side) and click on it
  • The crop box can be dragged as required.
  • You can alternatively press the enter button on keypad or choose the ‘Image’ icon situated in the taskbar and select the ‘Crop’ option.

In case the scanned image looks crooked, then the Crop tool will help to straighten the same.

How a crooked image should be straightened:

  • Click the ‘Crop’ option.
  • Hover the cursor over any part of the image’s corner to find a double-ended arrow that is curved.
  • Drag accordingly – either to right or left to rectify the crooked portion.
  • Once you get the desired effect, press Enter or select the ‘Image’ option and Crop.

Ways to rotate an image:

  • Go the taskbar and select the ‘Image’ option.
  • Choose ‘Image Rotation’.
  • Select the desired rotation.

How to Fix Shadows and Bends?

  1. If the requirement is about having a sepia toned image, it is still advisable to do the editing by opting for the black and white format. Turn the image (edited so far) into black and white to highlight the contrast and shades. Then finally, chance it back to the sepia tone. By applying an adjustment layer that is in black and white to a restoration layer, it will do wonders. Similar technique is applicable when it comes to old black and white photo restoration in Photoshop.
  2. Save the original layers by duplicating new ones. So as to keep the original copies safe.
  3. Next, all the duplicated layers should be merged.
  4. Choose ‘Color Range Tool’ to select the bends which reflects the surrounding light and where there is shine in the darker areas.
  5. After getting the selection, choose the Feather Radius of 5 pixels.
  6. Next choose ‘Burn Tool’ and go to the top bar to select the Range as ‘Midtones’ while setting the Exposure to 24%.
  7. Let the selected portions ‘Burn’ until they match the other shadow areas of the photo, using a soft big brush.
  8. Use the ‘Burn Tool’ also in areas where the object has a bend and the reflecting light kills the shadow. You will be able to recreate the shadow in this areas by cloning a bit.

4.   Reduce noise by applying a filter

With a mere click of the mouse, one cannot easily do away with the scratches or dust on the image. For this, one has to opt for manual procedure. This shouldn’t scare you away – for, there are Filter options in Photoshop to remove unnecessary noise.

Ways to reduce noise in an image:

  • Go to the taskbar and select ‘Filter’.
  • Choose the ‘Noise’ option and click on ‘Dust & Scratches’.
  • Open a pop-up window and gradually increase the levels of ‘Threshold’ and ‘Radius’ pixels to get the effect you require. Be take care not to use it too much lest you lose excessive detail.
  • Again select ‘Filter’ to click on the ‘Noise’. Next choose ‘Reduce Noise’.
  • In the pop-up window, accordingly adjust the settings. Keep an eye on the Preview section to check the effect while doing adjustment each time.

5.   Rectify the damaged areas

Now this is where one needs to be extra alert! If your photo has any kind of marks such as stains or scratches, then opt for amateur level of techniques in Photoshop like the Clone Tool, Spot Healing Brush and Patch Tool.

On Using Spot Healing Brush:

  • In the toolbox, select the Band-Aid-like icon – that is the ‘Spot Healing Brush’.
  • Select a brush size according to your preferences. You can get this option in the drop-down menu situated in upper right corner.
  • Select Type – either ‘Proximity Match’ or ‘Content-Aware’ to achieve the results you want.
  • Click on the area you want to rectify.

On Using Patch Tool:

  • Choose ‘Spot Healing Brush’.
  • Click on ‘Patch Tool’.
  • Choose ‘Source’ that is located below the taskbar.
  • Encircle the damaged portion using the cursor to form a selection.
  • The selection can be dragged to any clean area that closely matches with the colour and look of the damaged portion that you are trying to fix.

On Using Clone Stamp:

  • In the toolbox, click the ‘Clone Stamp’ option.
  • You can select the brush size according to the size you need.
  • Next, Alt + Click a clean portion that needs to be cloned.
  • Opacity can be adjusted if required.
  • Drag or click the cursor over the damaged spot to cover with the cloned pixels from the area of sample.

No matter which tool you are using from these, it is essential to zoom in as much close as possible to the area that you want to repair. This will help you to get highly satisfying result that is precise and well-defined.

6.   Adjusting colour correction

You can easily color those discolored old images. For removing the stains or adding colors, color feature is the choice you have to make for old photo repair.  Just pick the color feature and select the needed color from pallet given. However, chances are least that you will get exactly the color you need.

You will get a drop-down menu after selecting Image from taskbar – where you will have different options for colour correction.

If you select ‘Under Adjustments’, there will be three choices: Auto Color, Auto Tone and Auto Contrast. Try adjusting the image with these options to check whether you get the effect as required. You can always opt for the manual route if you are not satisfied with the automated results.

There is always an advantage if one knows how to read the histogram, because it will benefit immensely while adjusting – such that you can achieve the perfect effect. In histogram, choose ‘Adjustments’ to see various functions here. One can come across ‘Brightness’, ‘Exposure’, ‘Vibrance’ and ‘Contrast’ as well as other adjustment options like ‘Levels’ and ‘Curves’. Working on an old photo gives you the liberty to experiment with the adjustment tools in order to achieve the colour, tone or contrast bang on.

7.   Saving the edited image

Once the image editing is done, you can either delete the original layer that was meant for reference or flatten the images (right-click the layer that has been edited and choose ‘Flatten Image’. For this the edited layer must be on the top). Next, go to the taskbar and click on the ‘File’, choose ‘Save As’, select the desired file format and press ‘Enter’. Voila! You have your old photo restored!!

Damaged image restoration in Photoshop is a skill that you should master or else the desired results may not be obtained. The best thing you can otherwise do is to hire any of the professional companies offering photo restoration services. There are many but be sure to select the most proven people who will help you to cherish those old memories with perfectly restored images.

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