How to Restore Photos

Restoring Old Photos

Photo Editing Software

Most photo editing software will have the tools for restoring photos. There are some very basic photo retouching tools that are automatic. They will enhance your old photos at the click of a button.

In this hub, I will be using Corel PaintShop Pro X4 Revision 14.2.01. The software is available from Corel.com or several online vendors such as Amazon.com, Target.com or others. I have also included a link to the photo editing software available at Amazon.

PaintShop is intimidating at first, but after having used it for over ten years, I can safely say it is the easiest photo restoration and retouching software available. It is reasonably priced at about $50 which is way less expensive than the "name" brands of digital photography manipulation software. After learning to navigate the interface, you will be using it like a pro.

How to restore a photo - my experience

Photo editing workspace
Photo editing workspace | Source

Adjust the size of a digital photo

Adjust the size of a photo before you work with it to save time and computing speed. Also photos only need to be about 600 pixels wide or tall for web display.
Adjust the size of a photo before you work with it to save time and computing speed. Also photos only need to be about 600 pixels wide or tall for web display. | Source

Scanning - step by step guide

1. Click on *File, *Import, *From Scanner or Camera
1. Click on *File, *Import, *From Scanner or Camera | Source

Photo Retouching

Click thumbnail to view full-size
1. This is my original photo which I saved before I began to work on it.2. Use the cropping tool to outline the area you want to save.3. After application of the "auto adjust" feature. Use the "save as" feature to save each step as a new photo.4. I began applying various effects to the photo and found the "vivid" effect gave the photo a little more sharpness.5. After cropping, I used the clone tool to get rid of the weeds in the walkway. Not really necessary, but I didn't know that at the time. Save as a new photo again.6. Since the sunflower was totally washed out, I zoomed in on it and added a little soft color with the paintbrush tool using a soft setting. Experimentation will be the only way you can get this done. Use the "undo" function a lot.7. I then applied an effect called "vignette" which completely gave me the effect I wanted. I cropped it one more time and this is the final!Here is a filter that I played with before using the "undo" function!
1. This is my original photo which I saved before I began to work on it.
1. This is my original photo which I saved before I began to work on it. | Source
2. Use the cropping tool to outline the area you want to save.
2. Use the cropping tool to outline the area you want to save. | Source
3. After application of the "auto adjust" feature. Use the "save as" feature to save each step as a new photo.
3. After application of the "auto adjust" feature. Use the "save as" feature to save each step as a new photo. | Source
4. I began applying various effects to the photo and found the "vivid" effect gave the photo a little more sharpness.
4. I began applying various effects to the photo and found the "vivid" effect gave the photo a little more sharpness. | Source
5. After cropping, I used the clone tool to get rid of the weeds in the walkway. Not really necessary, but I didn't know that at the time. Save as a new photo again.
5. After cropping, I used the clone tool to get rid of the weeds in the walkway. Not really necessary, but I didn't know that at the time. Save as a new photo again. | Source
6. Since the sunflower was totally washed out, I zoomed in on it and added a little soft color with the paintbrush tool using a soft setting. Experimentation will be the only way you can get this done. Use the "undo" function a lot.
6. Since the sunflower was totally washed out, I zoomed in on it and added a little soft color with the paintbrush tool using a soft setting. Experimentation will be the only way you can get this done. Use the "undo" function a lot. | Source
7. I then applied an effect called "vignette" which completely gave me the effect I wanted. I cropped it one more time and this is the final!
7. I then applied an effect called "vignette" which completely gave me the effect I wanted. I cropped it one more time and this is the final! | Source
Here is a filter that I played with before using the "undo" function!
Here is a filter that I played with before using the "undo" function! | Source

Photo Fix

I found an old photograph of my son that really needed help. It was black and white, grainy and out of focus. It will never win any photography awards, but it has a lot of sentimental value to me. I wanted to make a cute little photo for a memento box and this one was perfect.

I use a scanner to get my photos into my computer. This took a bit of practice to do the first time. You will need to read the directions for your scanner, but the biggest trick is finding the photo again after you get it scanned. So, before you even scan the photo, learn how to save documents to "My Pictures" or another file folder that you have created on your computer.

With Corel PaintShop Pro, there is an import button to click on under the "file" menu. You will have the option to import photos from your scanner or camera. This is how you get your photos into your workspace.

  1. After scanning the original photo into my workspace, the first step will be to "resize" the photo to a size that is easier and faster to work with. Web photos only need to be about 600 to 800 pixels wide or tall. If you are concerned about quality, make sure you are scanning to 200 dpi (dots per inch). Click on "image" then "resize". A dialogue box will open. Choose your settings and click on OK.
  2. The first step in retouching your adjusted photo after resizing it is to crop the photo with the crop tool to get rid of unwanted background or distractions. When you hover your mouse over a tool or other object, you will probably get a pop up display of what you are hovering over. You can alternatively crop first, then re-size, but get the basic photo the way you want it. Click on "file", "save as" and name this photo. The original will still be there, so you may want to save that too.
  3. Working with your cropped photo, find the "adjust" drop down on the menu bar. A dialogue box will drop and you can choose "One step photo fix" which will automatically fix most problems with lighting and scratches and such. Do another "save as" to save this third photo.
  4. Now comes the fun part! On the menu bar there is a button for "effects". Start going through each one that looks interesting and apply it to your working photo. If you do not like the effect, just hit the "undo" arrow. You can also find this function under the "edit" button on the menu bar drop down. Keep trying different effects and filters until you find the one you like. You can "save as" on any effect and create a new photo. Or you can just undo whatever step you just took. You may "undo" several steps if you choose by clicking on the undo command as long as it is active. For this photo, I found an effect called "vivid" which I liked and saved.
  5. The next step may or may not be the "clone" tool. There are other tools available, feel free to experiment! The clone tool is fabulous for getting rid of small to moderate sized blemishes in a photo, like the grass clumps. It can be tricky to use, so remember that undo command. In PaintShop Pro4, you also have the TIPS section for each tool. These tips generally pop up automatically when you select a tool to use. If the tip dialogue is not available, go to "help" plus "Learning Center" to display the tips on the right hand side.
  6. Since the sunflower was very washed out in this photo, I used the "paint brush" tool to color the petals. This took some experimentation and a generous use of the undo function. I finally found the right paint brush setting and added the color. I zoomed in to the photo to make this look really natural. Don't forget to "save as" and keep your original copy. All of the tools have individual settings and you will have to experiment with each setting. There are thousands of adjustments to make if you so desire.
  7. Lastly, I applied an effect called a "vignette". This applied a soft white fuzzy border around the center of the photo. It popped out at me and I cropped the photo again to its final size and printed it on matte photo paper. This is the photo I will decoupage to my little treasure box.
  8. The last photo in the slide show is a "save as" that I did when I applied a "sunshine" effect. i liked it a little, but not a lot. It's saved and I will delete it eventually. Don't be afraid to try new things. You never know!

Photo Editing

With just a little bit of practice, you will be using PaintShop Pro X4 like a whiz kid. There are so many effects, you will have fun playing with them. Some of the other things you can do with photo editing:

  • Get rid of "red eyes"
  • Get rid of whole backgrounds and place your photo on a background in Paris or on the beach.
  • Convert photos to black and white from color.
  • Remove scratches and tears in a photo.
  • Sharpen or blur things in a photo.
  • Chop off their heads! Remove an old boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • Turn people into cartoons.
  • Add GHOSTS! or put Jesus in a cloud.

A good photo editing package includes everything you need to use your computer as a digital darkroom. You can highlight and dodge, print photos and add text or cute little effects. PaintShop can even make your photos have burnt curling edges just like the rookies used to do it.

The help files in PaintShop will guide you on any tool or on how to restore photos. The help files are probably easier to use than this guide. They are quite step by step and written so you can understand them. Make use of these files and play with your software. Think of it as a puzzle. How do I...? How do I get rid of a green shadow. Ask the help files!

Photo Retouching

Will you be able to use these directions to retouch your photos?

  • Yes, this looks like just the thing.
  • No, photo editing software is something I don't think I can master.
  • I would rather dump all my photos in a shoebox and hope that someday I'll be this organized!
  • I think I'll take all my photos to Walgreens for conversion.
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© 2012 Austinstar

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Comments - I am self taught. If you know a better way, please comment... 16 comments

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This looks like an excellent program. I use Adobe Photo Shop and it doesn't offer this many options. I need to check this out. Very helpful!


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

I tried Adobe years ago. Then I tried this on a trial for free and found out how good it was. I've been a convert ever since.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Wow, amazing. I never use Corel Paintshop before..i only use Photoshop for editing pictures. Maybe this is worth a try.. thanks austin!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I need to get a good photo editing software and have always found Corel software easy to use. Will have to look into PaintShop.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

It's definitely a good program. I use it almost daily. It's fun to play with like a game too :-)


timorous profile image

timorous 4 years ago from Me to You

Nice article austinstar. I have used many photo editing programs, but the one I use the most is Corel Photo Paint (part of their CorelDraw suite). I've been using versions of this for almost 20 years.

The problem I have with Paint Shop Pro, is the tiny sliders and postage stamp image in each tool adjustment window. You just can't get a proper idea of the result. However, with Photo Paint, most of the tools affect the full size image directly.

Another point that should also be stressed, is that you should be saving your files in the uncompressed 'TIF' format, for your incremental saving. JPG is a 'lossy' format, meaning that you lose a bit of quality every time you save. I only use JPG format when I'm finally done editing.

Thanks for this useful and easy to follow article. Cheers.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

Thanks timorous. I did know about the TIFF format, and sometimes I use PNG, but I always forget to do this. I shall try to develop a habit to save my originals in TIFF. Learned something new again today!


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Excellent and important information to know, Lela. If you are self-taught, you did a heck of a good job. Thanks for sharing your on-the-job learning.


chrissieklinger profile image

chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Looks like a neat program. I have been debating purchasing adobe, maybe I need to consider this instead.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

Adobe will work just as well, but I prefer this program. Either one is cool. They pretty much do the same things.


Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 4 years ago

This Corel PaintShop Pro looks like something I could use..APS s too expensive for me.

Good tutorial :-)


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I am pretty confident I could do this - right after I learn to take a proper photograph! lol But heck - if it was an easy thing to do everyone would be able to do it. I think you have to be patient and artisitc to do this really well.

Like you for instance! You do a great job!


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

Trust me, it took years of practice, but thank you!


LauraGSpeaks profile image

LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

I have Adobe Photoshop and find it so frustrating for a novice like me to do simple tasks. For example, the automatic red eye removal tool frequently changes one eye, but not both. If I do a full edit and touch up the red eye, it doesn't look natural. Thanks for the insight into other programs.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

Adobe didn't work for me either. It's a very complicated program. PaintShop is much easier.


Pretty 16 months ago

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Programme () I've been using both Adobe Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro for many years in the case of PSP since vrsioen 5, when it was a shareware product from Jasc Software. It's always been Photoshop's budget cousin, but it has always seemed to me, certainly in the early days, to be more of a bitmap creation tool than a photo manipulation tool. If I need to create graphics for applications or web pages, Paint Shop Pro is my first choice of tool I'd hate to try to create a picture from scratch in Adobe Photoshop. At the same time, for manipulating images from cameras and the like, Photoshop has always been the default choice. Since Corel acquired PSP, they seem to have been steadily ramping up the Photoshop-type features in it (and have added the word Photo to the name as a result), to the point where this vrsioen seems to be a reasonable alternative to Photoshop. I certainly can't find anything that I regularly do in Photoshop that this package can't handle, and the addition of the word Photo to the title seems well-justified. Fortunately, this isn't at the cost of PSP's ability to create images from scratch, which is still, as far as I can see, all present and correct. Photoshop costs a small fortune PSP is a great deal cheaper, and for most people will be all they ever need in a photo editing package. It's a very useful tool to have on your PC, very good value, and comes thoroughly recommended if you want to create your own graphics, or if you can't stretch to the cost of Photoshop.

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