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Photo Restoration: Repairing Physical Damage

📄 Contents

  1. Filling Holes and Other Surface Damage
  2. Reconstructing Torn or Cut Photos
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Robert Correll, author of Photo Restoration: From Snapshots to Great Shots, offer tips for repairing the physical damage to old photos, including filling holes and other surface damage and reconstructing torn or cut photos.
This chapter is from the book

Filling Holes and Other Surface Damage

Holes and other surface damage often require you to make up for lost material. Don’t panic. Use the same techniques that you have learned to clean photos and repair other damage. You’ve been covering blemishes and damage with clean material all along, albeit different shapes and sizes.

Figure 5.16 shows how simple repairing this type of damage can be. This photo has been pinned to a wall or a bulletin board. There are three holes along the top edge and one in the bottom center. Repair them as you would a circular blemish, by covering them with undamaged material. When repairing damage this close to the top or bottom borders, I keep my brush strokes horizontal. I also make sure to watch the brush size. If it is too large, you’ll see overspray outside of the edges of the photo. Because this hole is close to the border, you could also choose to crop it out of the photo.

Figure 5.16

Figure 5.16 While severelooking, this hole was very easy to fix.

Figure 5.17 has a hole that is a bit tougher to tackle. This repair requires delicate work with the Clone Stamp and careful attention to the clothing and shadows. The largest challenge with this repair was selecting good source material to cover the missing areas. The tones and shading all had to match.

Figure 5.17

Figure 5.17 To make repairs like this, you must be able to pull source material from nearby areas of the photo.

I started cloning along the photo’s edge, then worked my way inward, toward the other details. I find that getting details like lines fixed first works well. When they were done, I filled in the easier areas. Don’t be afraid to create more than one layer to handle repairs like this.

The photo in Figure 5.18 has a large area in the center that has been badly damaged. To make this repair, I used the Clone Stamp, paying attention to the changing light and shadowy areas on the wall. There was plenty of good source material close by to pull from.

Figure 5.18

Figure 5.18 I repaired the large area by cloning.

The damaged area on my sister’s hair was more challenging. I tried cloning first, but it didn’t look right. So I switched to the copy and paste technique. I selected an area to copy (shown in the first image of Figure 5.19), copied, then pasted and flipped it horizontally. Following that transformation, I placed it over the damaged area. Next, I masked out part of it and cloned material to complete the blending.

Figure 5.19

Figure 5.19 The key to this repair was copying, pasting, and then flipping hair from another area.

The result is a repair that used existing material as a foundation to clone around and over. Figure 5.20 shows both areas finished.

Figure 5.20

Figure 5.20 Both areas were repaired using different techniques.

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