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Less Work, More Results

It may be very tempting to clean up every itty-bitty dust spot by hand—well, it may be tempting for about 15 minutes! Try these quick tips to restore an image with the Crop tool and content-aware scaling to clean up an image and reduce the amount of delicate handwork needed.

The Crop Tool as Restoration Tool

One of the simplest ways to restore an image is to crop out the damage if it is in an unimportant part of the picture. If a corner is broken off or has faded from being in frame, a simple crop could minimize or possibly eliminate a lot of extra work.

When working with the Crop tool to remove unimportant image areas in a nondestructive manner, make sure that the Delete Cropped Pixels option is deselected in the options bar. With this option disabled, image information is not deleted when cropping; rather, the unwanted material is simply hidden from view. To adjust the crop, drag the visible image within the crop. To bring back all the hidden information, choose Image > Reveal All or start a new crop outside the existing one.

logo.jpg ch5_portrait_1930.jpg

To try this out, open the portrait image. Notice that the image has several different stages of fading, particularly from being in a frame that was not rectangular. The important part of the image is not faded, so cropping would be a quick fix (FIGURE 5.14).


FIGURE 5.14 This image can be helped just through cropping.

© Palmer Family Archives

  1. Select the Crop tool. In the options bar, click Clear to make sure no fixed-size settings are selected. Also be sure that Delete Cropped Pixels is unselected to keep the crop nondestructive.

  2. To set the new crop area, drag from the upper-left corner, excluding the white area, down to the lower-right corner, cropping away the other faded areas of the image.

  3. Press Return/Enter or click Commit (checkmark) in the options bar to apply the crop (FIGURE 5.15).

    FIGURE 5.15

    FIGURE 5.15 Cropping all faded material out creates an unwanted end result, as too little headroom is left. Retain the needed headroom when cropping and use the retouching tools discussed to fix the remaining issues.

  4. If the crop is not perfect, click the Crop tool to display the edge handles again, and drag the corner or edge handles to the desired crop area. You can reposition the image within the crop area by dragging within the crop boundary. Remember that the information is only being hidden and hasn’t been deleted (if Delete Cropped Pixels is unselected) (FIGURE 5.16). Press Return/Enter once more to commit the crop.

    FIGURE 5.16

    FIGURE 5.16 Crop the picture to leave some headroom.

Restoration with Content-Aware Scale

Content-aware scaling can be useful in covering up dust in images if there is sufficient good material from which to sample. The scan of the slide in FIGURE 5.17 shows dust spots that have settled into the emulsion and would not blow off. Fortunately, there is enough image area that does not have marks to make cleanup a breeze (FIGURE 5.18).


FIGURES 5.17 and 5.18

© David Palmer

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  1. Duplicate the Background layer to keep the changes nondestructive.

  2. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool, and create a selection of the entire middle of the picture above the woman’s head, as seen in FIGURE 5.19.

    FIGURE 5.19

    FIGURE 5.19 A selection is made of an area not covered with dust.

  3. Choose Edit > Content-Aware Scale, or press Cmd-Option-Shift-C/Ctrl-Alt-Shift-C. A marquee selection with handles will appear.

  4. Drag the center handle upward to the edge of the image (FIGURE 5.20).

    FIGURE 5.20

    FIGURE 5.20 Using content-aware scaling, the selected area expands and covers up the dust.

  5. Click Return/Enter to accept the change, or click the checkmark in the options bar.

  6. Choose Select > Deselect, or press Cmd-D/Ctrl-D, to deselect.

Often the desired final size of an image is one that will fit a standard frame size. Content-aware scaling can be very useful in resizing an image (within reason) without creating visible artifacts or distortion. Katrin was presented with a cute image that needed to fit a preset size for a greeting card (FIGURE 5.21). By using Content-Aware Scale, she was able to squeeze the main subjects closer together without noticeable distortion, especially for the desired output size (FIGURES 5.22 and 5.23).


FIGURE 5.21 This image was just a little too wide for its intended need, marked by the guide line.

© KE


FIGURE 5.22 Using Content-Aware Scale, the image can be transformed to a new aspect ratio.


FIGURE 5.23 The final image is resized without any visible distortion.

© 2013 Katrin Eismann

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