Do you know that strange red tint on all of the photos in your family albums? It has a name – it’s called a color cast. Most old pictures have one, and if you can and upload them to Photoshop, you can easily do away with it.
Essentially, though, what Matt means is that to get the best results you’ll close the gaps between the edge of the range for each of the channels: red, blue, and green. It’s a simple technique that just requires a little slide of the mouse. And even though it’s a simple action, the results are impressive
Steps to Restoring Old Photos in Photoshop
To enhance your old photos, we’ve listed down several steps you should follow. These steps apply to digital photo restoration using the latest version of Adobe Photoshop.
- Digitize your old photo.
- Open the image in Photoshop.
- Crop, straighten, or rotate the image.
- Make the necessary adjustments to your image.
- Apply a filter to reduce noise.
- Save the newly restored image.
Digitize your old photo
The first step is to scan the photo to get a digital copy. You can use a regular photo scanner, take a photo using a digital camera, or use a scanner app on your smartphone.
Whichever method you use, make sure that it will yield a large, high-quality copy of the photo to make it easier to work with.
Open the image in Photoshop
Next, open the digital image in Photoshop. Then create a second copy of the image. You’ll want to keep an original copy for reference, so you’ll be working on altering the second copy.
How to create a duplicate copy of an image in Photoshop:
- Select a layer in the Layers panel.
- Drag the layer to the Create a New Layer button, or select the Duplicate Layer option from the Layers menu or Layers panel menu.
- If you’ve selected the Duplicate Layer option, give your layer a name, and click OK.
Crop, straighten, or rotate the image
Before you can begin making any adjustments, make sure that you’re working with a clean, properly oriented image.
If there’s any unwanted white space (or any kind of space that shouldn’t be there) around the edges, you can simply crop all of that out.
How to crop your image:
- Click on the Crop icon on the toolbox (on the left side of Photoshop’s default workspace).
- Draw a new cropping area or drag the edges of the crop box to the desired positions.
- Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to crop the image.
f the scan of your image is a bit crooked, you can straighten it out using the crop tool.
How to straighten a crooked image:
- Click on the Crop icon, then click the Straighten icon on the toolbar.
- Drag a line along a horizontal or vertical element in the photo.
- Let go of the mouse so that Photoshop can rotate your image and crop its uneven edges.
- Once you are satisfied, press Enter. Photoshop will also remove the excess image if you’ve enabled the Delete Cropped Pixels checkbox.
How to rotate your image:
Photoshop CC lets you rotate your image through its Image Rotation setting or the Transform function in the Edit menu.
To rotate your image using the Image Rotation option:
- Click on Image in the taskbar.
- Select Image Rotation.
- Choose your preferred rotation.
To rotate your image using the Edit menu:
- Click on your image to select it.
- Click on the Edit menu, then choose Transform.
- Choose your preferred rotation.
Make the necessary adjustments to your image
There are two ways to do this step in Photoshop: adjusting your image’s color and fixing its damaged spots.
Make color correction adjustments.
Old photos are usually faded, but if you want to improve the tone, color, contrast, and overall vibrancy of the photo, Photoshop can do these, too.
If you select Image from the taskbar, you’ll see a drop-down menu that will pretty much give you everything you need for some basic color correction. Under Adjustments, you’ll see three options: Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color. Try these out first and see if these automatic corrections deliver your desired effect. If not, you can do these corrections manually.
It’s a good idea to learn how to read the histogram so that you can make highly accurate adjustments. From there, select Adjustments and use the different functions under this menu option. There are basic adjustments such as Brightness, Contrast, Exposure, and Vibrance, or the slightly more in-depth adjustment tools such as Curves and Levels.
Depending on the condition of your photo, the best thing to do is to play around with these different adjustment tools to get the right tone, color, and contrast.
If your image has a color cast, here are a few steps to follow to correct the effect:
- Highlight your duplicate layer, then click on the adjustment layers icon under the Layers panel.
- Choose Levels from the adjustment layer options.
- To adjust your photo’s RGB (red, green, and blue) levels, click on the dedicated tab. A RGB menu will appear.
- Click on any of the color options, then bring the white and black sliders to the histogram’s upward line.
- Once you’re done adjusting the RGB levels, click on the Layers panel to exit.
- Highlight your duplicate layer and your adjustment layer, then right click on the area and select Merge Layers to combine both layers.
Fix the damaged spots.
This part is where it gets a bit tricky—you’ll definitely need an eye for detail and a whole lot of patience! If there are any scratches, stains, and other unwanted marks on your photo, you can use a few beginner-friendly spot correction Photoshop tools: the Spot Healing Brush, the Patch Tool, and the Clone Stamp.
How to use the Spot Healing Brush:
- Click on the Spot Healing Brush icon (the one that looks like a band-aid) on the toolbox.
- Choose your desired brush size in the options bar.
- Choose between the Proximity Match, Create Texture, or Content-Aware Type options. Any of these options should work for what you’re trying to achieve.
- Select or deselect the Sample All Layers option if you want to sample data from all layers or one active layer.
- Click on the spot you want to fix, or click and drag the brush over imperfections in a larger area.
How to use the Patch Tool:
- Select the Patch Tool.
- Select the area you want to repair by dragging, then select Source in the options bar. You can also select your sample area by dragging and selecting the Destination option.
- Adjust your selection by using the Shift-drag, Alt-drag/Option-drag, or Alt+Shift-drag/Option+Shift-drag combinations.
- Select Transparent if you want to extract a transparent texture from your sample area, or deselect it to put the sample area over the target area.
- Adjust the Diffusion slider.
- Place the pointer inside your selection, then drag it to your sample or patch area.
Apply a filter to reduce noise
You can’t magically get rid of the dust and scratches with just a press of a button—you’ll have to do it manually. However, you can make that job easier by using Photoshop’s Filter functions to reduce some of that unwanted noise.
Save the newly restored image
Once you’re happy with the image, delete the unedited layer (the original reference layer) or right-click the edited layer and select Flatten Image (make sure that your edited layer is on top). After that, just follow the steps below to save your photo.