I need to scan a piece of paper where the ink is almost erased and is difficult to see it in simple sight. I think it was printed with a not so good ink.

Is there some trick to make the lines/letters on this paper more visible in order to be recognized when scanning or when I took a photo?


2 Answers 2


My humble experience show me there are few ways you can try (success is not guarantied!)

  • increase contrast a lot. This will show you the areas naked eye can't see. Playing with exposure to correct the visible elements.
  • deploy high-pass filter (on more extreme levels) to see the borders of a objects on paper. This is one of the methods of sharpening so you can try any other sharpening method you find.
  • colour solarization can also reveal some "invisible" details

One more point: try to scan the original with different resolutions, for example 75, 150 to 1600 DPI. And apply the operations on all of the images. This can help you suppress the texture of the paper on lower resolutions and reveal details on high resolutions.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks so much for your answer and time. I'll make my attempts following your suggestions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ger Cas
    Mar 22, 2022 at 21:18

As this is a photography space, let's talk about light and shadow.

Use the flattest - flattest - flattest light you can.

If you have a difference of light, for example, due to falling off, you will have a really hard time trying to add contrast or adjust the curves or levels.

If you have a point light, the texture of the paper could also make small shadows, so use different light from different angles.

Flatten the paper, if you can with a glass. Again, every protuberance of the paper will produce a difference in light, making it hard to make adjustments in post.

Probably the best option is to use a flatbed scanner; it will produce the flattest light. But still, depending on the paper texture it could produce "micro shadows" because the light is directional.

There is a chance that you could use a different type of light, for example, UV light, but that is beyond my expertise.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this, but also, depending on the nature of the faded ink and paper, it can be helpful to intentionally find an angle of lighting that best emphasizes physical depressions from the pen (if that's what the ink is) in the paper (with a shadow outlining one side). \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark K
    Mar 25, 2022 at 3:25

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