Introduction: How to Fix a Scanned Picture

Sometimes it is more convenient to view pictures on computers or tablets than on newspapers or magazines, and the way to transfer pictures from paper-based media into electronic files is scanning. However, no one can scan perfectly, there can be flaws such as dusts, creases, and fingerprints on the picture, and sometimes there can be text which you don’t want. This tutorial will show you how to fix a scanned picture, make it looks like a picture released online officially.

Step 1: What You Will Need

You need a computer to do this, and you will need the following on that computer:
1. Photoshop (CS5 version is used in this tutorial)
2. Microsoft Office Picture Manager
3. A scanned picture
The sample picture used in this tutorial has been posted in this step.

Step 2: Convert to Png

First of all, most pictures generated by a scanner are in jpg or jpeg format. Jpg is a popular format because of its relative small size, but it is a lossy format, which means every time you save it after editing, part of the information is discarded for the purpose of compression, this is called jpg artifact.
Therefore, you need to convert it to a loseless format. I recommend png because it takes less space than other loseless formats. To do so, open your Photoshop and drag the jpg file to the Photoshop window and Photoshop will open that picture automatically.
Now, go to File -> Save As, type the file name, select the file type to be png, and click “Save”, you will see a window that looks like the picture in this step.
Select “None” and click “OK”, wait until it is done.
Now, close the jpg picture and open the png picture that you just saved. You may delete the original jpg picture if you want.

Step 3: Learn to Use Clone Stamp Tool

Clone stamp tool is one of the most commonly used tools in Photoshop, it basically copies an area of picture and paste it to somewhere else.
On your left hand side of Photoshop, you can see a toolbar. On the toolbar, select the red circled icon shown in the picture.
Now select “Clone Stamp Tool”. Hold Alt and click where you want to copy from, and then click where you want to copy to. Click or drag your mouse to start copying, if you are not satisfied with what you get, press Ctrl and Alt and Z simultaneously to go back. Right click on anywhere of the picture to adjust the size of your copying area and hardness, if you are unsure about what value you should use for hardness, I recommend you to use 30%. In addition, opacity and flow can be adjusted on top of the window, start both from 50% and change them gradually to get what you like. You should practice this tool a lot until you are familiar with it.

Step 4: Learn to Use Brush Tool and Pencil Tool

These tools are the basic drawing tools in Photoshop, to use the brush tool select the red circled icon shown in the picture of this step, then select “Brush Tool”.
Brush tool can be easily used for drawing lines, just be aware that you can adjust opacity and flow like you did for clone stamp tool. In addition, if you hold Alt and click on anywhere on the picture, the color of brush tool will become the same as the point you clicked on, this is quite useful for fixing pictures.
Pencil tool works about the same as brush tool, you can select it from where you selected brush tool, be aware that the pattern of lines drawn by pencil tool is very different than that of brush tool.

Step 5: Learn to Use Mixer Brush Tool

Mixer brush tool mixes colors, it is like using a wet brush to blur a certain area, and I suggest you to use it after using pencil tool.
To select it, select the red circled icon shown in the image, this is the same place where you select your brush tool and pencil tool.
Like I said, it mixes colors, but it does not do it randomly, it actually mixes the color from where you originally clicked to where you dragged your cursor to.

Step 6: Fix Creases or Gaps

It is the time to take advantage of all the tools you just learnt, I have included the video so you can see how I did it. Hold Alt and use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and out. If the pattern near the gap is simple, use clone stamp tool to fill it up, and make some minor adjustment afterwards. If the pattern is complex, you might need to guess the missing content in the gap, and draw whatever is missing with brush or pencil tool, and then use mixer brush tool to make your work looks natural.
Fixing creases is about the same as fixing gaps. In comparison, fixing creases is simpler because you will not have to guess what is missing.

Step 7: Remove Text / Detext

It is actually the same as what you did to fix gaps, if there are too many words and the words are on the edge of the picture, you can think about cropping the picture to eliminate them as long as the majority of the picture is left. If you don’t know how to crop a picture, see the next step.

Step 8: Crop the Picture

There are many reasons to crop a picture, maybe because you want to get rid of text on the edge of a picture, or maybe because the picture you want is only part of the scanned picture.
Cropping a picture can be done in Microsoft Office Picture Manager instead of Photoshop, because it is simpler and more convenient.
Microsoft Office Picture Manager comes with Microsoft Office 2010 and any newer version, so it is very accessible, after opening your picture with this software, go to Picture->Crop, and select the area you need, for better precision, zoom in and out by holding Ctrl and use the mouse scroll wheel. Note that a scanned picture is usually not perfect aligned, so you will need to consider both sides of a picture. The two pictures for this step demonstrate what you might find when cropping, the left side seems to be perfect aligned, but if you go to the other side it is not the case.

Step 9: Use Filter

Go to Filter->Noise->Reduce Noise, and then adjust all the parameters until you get a decent-looking picture. I have included two pictures for comparison purpose, the first one is before filtering and the second one is after filtering.

Step 10: Convert Back to Jpg

Now you might want to convert your file back to jpg format, because png file takes a lot of space to store and a lot of time to open. Similar as what you did in step 3, go to File -> Save As, type the file name, select the file type to be jpg/jpeg, and click “Save”, you will see a window that looks like the picture of this step, I recommend you to go maximum quality and keep everything else default.

Step 11: Check

Finally, review your work, check to see any potential changes that can make your work better. This is the end of tutorial, good luck!