enter image description hereI could use some tips on restoring a scanned print of a family photograph from the 1930s. The photo is heavily scratched, but I would like to restore as much as possible. Any tips on removing the texture of scratches on the image? The foreground is very soft and I would like to improve definition and detail.


2 Answers 2


I took Nathan's image as a baseline then used Wavelet Decomposition with a rough select around the people to duplicate two layers of detail and re-merge it back in to try to sharpen without producing the sharpen artifacts you get from unsharp mask.

Wavelet Sharpening

Per a request for methodology details:

I used GIMP 2.10

GIMP Filter Select



Layers Scale 2 through 5 and residual follow. (Scale 1 has almost no information).

Scale 2

Scale 3

Scale 4

Scale 5


I duplicated layers scale 3 & 4.


I also selected just the people and deleted everything else in the duplicated layers to apply the sharpen effect to just the people. Not Shown.

Besides a sharpen effect from duplicating layers, the reverse can be accomplished by deleting layers or painting gray over various level details in the wavelet decomposition to selectively remove different levels of detail, effectively blurring. You can even blur gross detail while keeping fine detail.

Editing just the residual can help remove color stains without impacting details.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This would be much more helpful if you explained how you did what you did. What software, for instance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric S
    Oct 19, 2020 at 17:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Eric S - Explanation added per your request. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 19, 2020 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Outstanding! +1 \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric S
    Oct 19, 2020 at 20:42

Here is my image after removing major scratches and defects. I tried playing around with whole-image FFT to remove finer scratches and texture but could not find a good way to keep foreground details (e.g. hair, skin edges, etc.). This was VERY meticulous use of heal brush, and I don't have the patience to heal brush every scratch in this image.enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ FFT is helpful only for regularly occurring patterns, such as grids or halftone screens. Since scratches are not regular, FFT wouldn't be helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Oct 19, 2020 at 6:03

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