One of the more common problems you’ll run across when restoring old photos is the inevitable creased photograph where the paper has split open and you have a nice line running through the image. Sometimes the crease is down in a corner and it’s not so noticeable, but other times the crease can be right in the middle of the photo, like it was folded in half years ago and stuck inside a book. While the techniques for how to fix a creased photograph are not perfect, there are tricks you can use to restore the image enough that most people can’t tell the difference. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of how to fix a creased photo.
Before & After
In the sample photo here, you see what the original photo looked like before and how it appeared after I removed the creases. I zoomed in a little on one corner to show detail so we could focus on one area for the purposes of this article. Since this is a basic tutorial, I want to stick to basic patterns and colors. Once you get the hang of that, you can move on to more complex restoration like rebuilding textures, people’s faces, and so on.
The general idea here is to find the ‘good spots’ in a damaged photo and make copies of those sections, then paste them over the ‘bad spots’ in order to cover up blemishes like creases and tears. It’s a painstaking process that can’t be done all at once unless the photo has one minor issue. In the next section, we’ll go over all the steps required to take the original photo and clean it up.
Note: These instructions are for Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, but the basics still apply depending on what other photo editing software programs you use, so long as they allow you to select portions of an image and paste layers.
Since this photo has a lighter color border, we will start by cleaning up that outer border. This will need to be done for both the top and the sides.
- Select a small portion of the border that is clean, then copy it and paste as a new layer.
- Drag that new layer over part of the border that you want to fix. Keep pasting new layers until you get it all covered.
- Repeat the same process for the left side.
- Use both top and side pieces to rebuild the corner, then take a sliver of the light color area to fill in the upper right corner.
Now that the borders are cleaned up, it’s time to fix the middle section of the photo. Since this is and older image, it has a nice brownish texture that is easier to copy. Color photos are much more difficult to clean up, but the same principle applies.
- Use the Lasso tool to select the cleanest chunk of the middle section, then copy and paste it as a new layer.
- Drag that new layer over the creased area, and keep doing so until it is covered.
- Once you got the crease covered, keep filling in the space until everything is clean.
Once you have all the ‘bad spots’ covered, you may see some hard lines around the borders of the smaller layers you pasted. If so, use the Smudge tool in Adobe Photoshop to smooth them over, and you’re done.