How to clean up historic images in Adobe Photoshop

Do you have photos that contain a large number of scratches or noise from years of abuse? There are several different methods to cleaning up photos. Here are a couple quick tips for any aspiring graphic designers out there!

Our example image:


1. The Healing Brush Tool is your friend


The best way to clean up scratches is by utilizing this tool. In the beach image above, notice how many scratches are in the sky. Let's start by using a small brush size. Find a part of the sky that's clear of scratches and ALT+click to use it as a template (sampling point). This tool will not copy exactly what you sample, but will take the colors and shadows and blur it. From there, position your mouse above a nearby scratch and left click once.

2. Only point and click

This will be a slower process but will give you better results. If you drag your brush, it will most likely distort the image. As you clear away more and more sky, you can increase the size of your brush to cover more ground.

3. When in doubt, use the Clone Stamp Tool


This tool is similar to the Healing Brush. You collect a sampling point, but it pastes a complete copy of what you sample. Use this brush when you want a hard pattern to be repeated. We often switch between both tools to achieve our desired effect.


The final result in a side-by-side comparison -

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