122. About Removing Scratches, Specks, and Holes
Before You Begin
45 About Editing Images
70 About Making Selections
91 About Layers and the Layers Palette
123 Remove Scratches
124 Remove Specks and Spots
125 Repair Minor Tears, Scratches, Spots and Stains
126 Repair Large Holes, Tears, and Missing Portions of a Photo
It's not uncommon for photographs to acquire small scratches, spots, holes, and tears, even if the photos are not very old. If a photograph is not stored flat with its surface protected from damage, the photo can easily develop surface defects. The Editor offers many tools you can use to repair these scratches and other small anomalies:
Spot Healing Brush. If scratches or spots are small, use the Spot Healing Brush to get rid of them quickly. The Spot Healing Brush samples pixels at the outer edge of the brush tip and uses them to replace the pixels under the center of the tip. In this way, the tool can be used to repair spots and small scratches. The Spot Healing Brush can also be set to sample all pixels under the brush tip, creating a blended patch for the center of the tip. In this way, the tool can be used to repair a textured area. See 123 Remove Scratches.
Clone Stamp. This tool enables you to remove defects by cloning (copying) good parts of an image over top of small tears, scratches, spots, or stains. For example, if there's a small hole in someone's dress, you can copy a good part of the dress to make the repair. See 125 Repair Minor Tears, Scratches, Spots, and Stains.
Healing Brush. Works like the Clone Stamp tool in that it copies pixels from a good area of an image. However, unlike the Clone Stamp, the Healing Brush blends the good pixels with existing pixels in the repair area, thus hiding the repair by matching the texture of the repair area. Use this tool instead of the Clone Stamp when you're cloning into an area with a texture, such as grass, wood, or a sweater. See 123 Remove Scratches and 162 Remove Unwanted Objects from an Image.
Like most changes you can make to an image, you can limit your retouching to either a layer or a selection.
Noise A random pattern of pixels that gives an image a grainy texture. Digital still cameras have the same picture-taking electronics as digital video cameras, so the noise that generally cancels itself out when viewed at 30 frames per second can't be ignored in a frozen frame (single image).
Smudge tool. Uses either the current foreground color or the color under the brush tip at the beginning of a stroke to blend into existing pixels as you drag. This is sort of like finger painting. Use this tool to work color into damaged areas, fix some stray hairs, or soften a bad makeup job by smudging it.
Blur tool. Softens hard edges to reduce contrast. Often, you can soften the impact of a defect by using this tool to blur the contrast between it and an unpatched area.
Brush tool. Yes, you can even paint in a repair when needed. The trouble here is you're painting solid-colored pixels that do not blend well with the natural randomness of the pixels in a photo, so use this technique sparingly. I have used a very tiny Brush tool with a dark grayish purple to paint in eyelashes on occasion. Learn about other digital makeup wizardry in 135 Brighten a Face with Digital Makeup.
Many of the tools you might use to remove scratches, specks, and holes require that your image use either Grayscale or RGB Color mode. See 63 Change Color Mode.
In addition to tools, the Editor provides the digital retouching artist with many useful filters to help make repairs:
Despeckle, Median, and Reduce Noise. To remove a general scattering of dots or noise from a photograph, use one of these three filters (see 124 Remove Specks and Spots). The Reduce Noise filter is also helpful in removing noise caused by photographing in low light without a flash. See 141 Improve a Nighttime Photo and 143 Fix a Flash That's Too Far Away.
All filters work on the current layer. Because these retouching filters work by either reducing contrast between pixels or blurring edges, it's best to make a selection first before applying any of the filters listed here or to copy the area you want to repair to its own layer. That way, important contrast (along the edges of objects, for example) is preserved and the detail in your photo won't be lost.
Dust & Scratches. To remove small spots in a localized area, apply the Dust & Scratches filter. The Dust & Scratches filter is also good at repairing small scratches. Contrast at the edges of objects is preserved (see 123 Remove Scratches).