We return to the old photos in photoshop

Vintage style has been in fashion for several years. This returned interest to old photos. So, if you look in the attic or reconsider the boxes with old things, you can find a real treasure there! Agree – it is very nice to find an old photo, plunge into history and learn more about your family and the lives of our ancestors!

But unfortunately, many photos are very old and time has changed their original appearance. But! Thanks to modern opportunities, we can restore the pictures and save them for future generations.

This lesson will tell you how you can use Photoshop to breathe new life into a photo.

Step 1. Photo preparation

First of all, take an old photo and scan it, or take a picture using a camera. You can also use the photo from the lesson.

Transfer the image to a folder on your computer. Open the image in Photoshop.

In order not to spoil the original photo, we will work with a copy of the main image. This will give us the opportunity at any time to return to the initial settings and compare the final and initial view.

To duplicate the original image on the new layer, select the original layer in the layers palette, and click Ctrl+J.

Step 2. Determine the boundaries

In order to remove the artifacts that remain from scanning (photographing) along the edge of the photograph, we will slightly cut the picture.

To do this, activate the tool Frame (Crop Tool), create a selection around the edge, click OK.

Step 3

Let’s analyze the photo. The first thing that catches your eye is the presence of many black dots and unnecessary streaks.

We will use this tool to remove this flaw. Spot Healing Brush (Spot Healing Tool).

Before working with the tool, pay attention to its settings.

At the top of the panel, check the box next to the “Given the content “ (Content-Aware). Using this function will allow you to more accurately combine the masked areas with the main background.

Using the navigator, increase the working area to 100% or 200% and carefully hide the black specks. When working, use a small diameter brush.

Photos look much better!

But you noticed that I have not yet processed the upper right corner and the area in which the valve is located. In these places in the photo there are clear black lines (most likely these are ink spots). In the next steps, we will work to remove these shortcomings.

Step 4. Use the Clone Stamp Tool

Stand on the layer where you just removed the black dots and create a duplicate by pressing Ctrl+J (or use the transition Layer – create duplicate layer (Layers – Duplicate Layer)).

Activate the tool Stamp (Clone Stamp Tool). Set in the settings Sample – Active Layer (Sample – Current layer). Select a site that needs restoration, then hold down the key Alt and hover over a blank area of ​​the photo that will be used as the source of the clone. When working, do not forget to adjust the value Opacity and Push brushes.

I also recommend setting the “soft” round brush type in the Clone Stamp Tool settings.

Tool Stamp (Clone Stamp Tool), can also be used to mask small points that you forgot to remove when working with the Spot Healing Tool.

I recommend choosing clone samples from areas that are closest to defective areas.

Step 5. Use the Dodge / Burn Tool

By this step, we cleared the photo of most unwanted spots. Now let’s try to restore some elements that have become less readable due to the banal process of aging paper and paint.

Create two duplicate layers with the corrected photo. Rename the first copy to “Shadow” and the second layer to “Light”.

Step 1: “Use the Burn Tool (Burn Tool)”

Go to the “Shadow” layer. Activate the tool Dimmer (Burn Tool). In the settings, set Range – Shadows (Range – Shadows). Exposition – 100% (in the end, we can make the blackout effect softer, if necessary.

Further work must be very delicate and neat. In the image below, I marked with a dotted line those areas that, in my opinion, should be darkened.

After working with the Burn Tool, evaluate the overall result. If, in your opinion, the effect is too strong, then lower opacity (opacity) layer “Shadow” to 50%.

Stage 2: “Use the Dodge Tool”

Go to the “Light” layer. Activate the tool Clarifier (Dodge Tool). In the tool settings, set Range – Light (Range – Highlight). When working with the Dodge Tool, select the value for the exposure experimentally (I recommend to start with an exposure value of 5%).

In my opinion, areas that need clarification are: clothing and some parts of the river.

After you clarify the above areas of the photo, you need to reduce opacity (opacity) of the “Light” layer up to 30% – 60%.

Optionally, you can further process the sky using the Dodge Tool. I recommend when working with the sky to use a small exposure value (2% – 10%), as with strong exposure you will get an ugly grain in bright areas.

Final result

The considered method of restoration of photographs is basic. In this tutorial, we used a small amount of Photoshop tools and features. But if you compare the original photo and the photo after the correction – you will be pleasantly surprised!

Please note that we did not change the grain texture and left a slight scuff effect. For my taste, this is a great move, in order to leave the original charm of the photo and emphasize that the picture has its own history!


Restoration of the image consists of several simple steps:

  • analyze the photo;
  • duplicate the layer with the original image;
  • crop the image;
  • remove coarse stains using a tool Spot Healing Brush (Spot Healing Tool);
  • carry out the correction using the tool Stamp (Clone Stamp Tool);
  • to add contrast, use the tools Clarifier (Dodge Tool) and Dimmer (Burn Tool).

I hope you liked this lesson and you can easily process photos from your family archive!

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