ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Restore Old or Damaged Photos with a Scanner and Photoshop

Updated on September 14, 2008

How to Restore Old or Damaged Photos with a Scanner and Photoshop

PART I: Before you Scan

  • Rub the scanner glass with a lint-free cloth. Flannel works.
  • Scrape dirt and mold off the photo with a blade.
  • Do NOT tape pieces that are torn off... they will be easier to add using the software.

PART II: The Scan

  • Scan at 1200 dpi. If your scanner can't do that, set the dpi to as high as it will go.
  • Scan any pieces that are broken/torn off at the same dpi setting.

PART III: Restoring Torn Pieces

  • From the "File" menu in Photoshop, select "Automate" and then "Photomerge..." Provide the two separately scanned files. Photoshop may be able to automatically join the two pieces, or you may need to give it some extra help. See photo1.

  • If the automatic photomerge doesn't work, then you can copy/paste the smaller piece into the larger file. After pasting, rotate the small piece and move it into place, press enter, and then select "Flatten Image" from the "Layer" menu.

PART IV: Rotating and Cropping

  • Rotate the photo so that it is straight. Using the Measure Tool, (under the Eyedropper Tool), draw a straight line indicating the horizontal level of the photo. Then select "Image :: Rotate Canvas :: Arbitrary...". Click "OK" and the photo will be straightened out. See photo2 and photo3.
  • Decide what size you are going to develop the final photograph in (e.g. 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14). Crop the photo in such a way that the pixel ratios match that of the size you will develop the photo in. If necessary, use "Image : Canvas Size..." to add some whitespace to either the top/bottom or the sides of the photo. This will ensure that there aren't any cropping surprises when you get the photo developed.
  • Example: I want to develop a 4x6 photo. I know that the short dimension must be at least 968 pixels high. The math looks like this:

4 : 6

968 : ?

I multiply 968 x 6 and divide by 4 to get 1452. Now i know that my image needs to be 1452 pixels wide.

Part V: Blemishes and Creases

  • If the photo is black and white, or otherwise duotone (sepia, etc.), convert the image to greyscale using "Image : Mode : Greyscale". This will immediately decrease the effect of staining. You can convert the image to RGB and add color or sepia tones later.
  • If you have Photoshop CS or CS2, then use the Healing Brush Tool for the below steps. If you have an older version of Photoshop, then use the Clone Stamp Tool. See photo4.
  • Select the Healing Brush Tool. Look for a defect in the photo that is lighter than the surrounding area. Select the "Darken" mode for the Healing Brush Tool. Select a brush size that is just slightly larger than the defect. Make sure that the brush hardness is 50% or less. See photo5.
  • If you are using Photoshop on Windows, then Alt-Click on an undamaged area near the blemish (Option-Click for Macintosh users), and then regular click once on the blemish.
  • For blemishes that are darker, use the same technique, only select the "Lighten" mode for the Healing Brush Tool.
  • Some blemishes need two passes, one with Lighten and one with Darken. Often a fold in a photograph will need two passes. You can experiment with using the Normal Mode instead of Lighten and Darken.
  • If there is an area that is generally lighter (as opposed to a well-defined blemish), use the Burn Tool with the brush size set as large as the area is wide, and with Hardness at 50% or less. If there is an area that is generally darker, use the Dodge Tool in the same way.

Part VI: Adjusting Color and Contrast

  • Use "Image : Adjustments : Brightness/Contrast..." to experiment with the brightness and contrast until you're happy with it.
  • If you have a difficult photo with some really light areas and other really dark areas, and you can't seem to reconcile one area without ruining another, then use instead "Image : Adjustments : Shadow/Highlight...". See photo6.
  • Select "Image : Adjustments : Color Balance...". Move the sliders AWAY from the colors that are too prominent in the photo.

Part VII: Sharpening the Photo

  • Select "Image : Mode : Lab Color"
  • Select "Lightness" from the "Channels" tab. You are going to sharpen the image without messing up the colors, and then you are going to bring the color back after the sharpen. See photo7.
  • Select "Filter : Sharpen : Unsharp Mask..." Set Amount to 65%, Radius to 3.0, and Threshold to 4. Click OK.
  • Select "Image : Mode : RGB Color".


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)