Image Restoration/Pencil sketch lithograph
This pencil sketch lithograph is a political cartoon from the mid-nineteenth century. It depicts Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson repairing the rift that had caused the American Civil War. Published in 1865, a century and a half of aging has yellowed and faded the paper. Although generally well preserved, a few stains, smudges, and other marks distract from the central subject.
For encyclopedic restoration, the goal here is to remove distracting effects so that the viewer's attention is drawn to the style and content of the sketch itself. The restoration was completed in approximately 3 hours.
The original image
Selecting a suitable image is the most important decision in any restoration. This file was reasonably high resolution (12mb in the original Library of Congress version), well composed, and fairly well drawn.
Other political cartoons of the United States from the mid-nineteenth century often look cluttered and obscure to twenty-first century eyes. Artists often relied on complex allegories and large dialog bubbles. This one had the advantage of two elements well known to modern readers: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. The metaphor of sewing for mending the union is well illustrated and easy to understand. So although this is not a particularly famous cartoon, it covers an important subject and is a reasonably good example of a particular cartooning style.
On a technical level, the file doesn't have inherent problems such as .jpg artifacting or scanner streaks and is in adequate focus. The lithograph itself has been well preserved for an item of its age.
It is generally a bad idea to crop before restoration is complete: If you later realize you cropped out something important, or that you messed up the rotation, it will be very hard to go back. Instead, just note what areas lay outside your planned final crop, and do not focus effort on those.
If the image is very large, a loose crop of things you're certain not to need (such as tabletop around a scan) can be useful to improve your computer's performance with handling large files, however, otherwise, it's best not to.
Remember that in the final crop, the image can be rotated slightly, and, indeed, usually will need to be rotated at least a tenth of a degree or so, since humans aren't that good at positioning things on a scanner, or, indeed, at centering things on a page of hand-cut paper.