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Reconstruction tip for color photos - no artistry involved

Started by lurch, December 17, 2008, 04:35:26 PM

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For those of you working on color restorations, here's a technique you might be able to use for reconstructing appendages that are obscured by grunge. I did this in Photoshop CS3 but it should work in any application that supports channels, layers, and blending modes. What it does require is one 'good' channel to start with; it doesn't apply if all the channels are equally mucked up.

Here's the starting point in my example:

In this image the blue channel is pretty much intact:

The 'good' channel can be copied and the desired area cleaned up with your method of choice. I used the clone tool.

Next step is to select the cleaned-up area (with a small feather) and save the selection:

On a new layer, with the selection loaded, fill with a color sampled from near by:

Add another new layer, set its blend mode to luminosity, and load the selection again. To this layer, copy the cleaned-up channel (Image>Apply Image> blue channel copy in this case). There will be some cleanup to do on the result - brightness/contrast and noise matching and cloning or healing to fix edges. Here is the workflow I used, for an example. Remember that I started on a photo that was essentially done and just added a new hand, so what you do will be similar but not the same.

And here's the end result:

As with any technique, this won't necessarily work with all images. But it doesn't require drawing skill and should retain close to the original structure. Enjoy!



Lurch, thank you for this great tutorial on repairs using one of the channels.  It is well written and will come in really handy (lame pun) for some of our restores!

Hannie Scheltema
Distribution Coordinator
[email protected]




WOW! Great technique, lurch.  Thanks for sharing it.

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. ~Albert Pine

(Photoshop CS5 /Mac Pro)


"carpe diem"

Margie Hayes
OPR President
[email protected]