Image Restoration/Printable version

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Image Restoration

The current, editable version of this book is available in Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection, at

Permission is granted to copy, distribute, and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.


Image Restoration is the recovery of an original image x[m,n] from a given degraded image y[m,n] with a priori/posteriori knowledge of the degradation process.

Image Restoration is not the same as Image Enhancement.

Ex. of Image Enhancment[edit | edit source]

  • Image Sharpening
  • Image editing

Ex. of Image Restoration[edit | edit source]

  • Correcting a blurred Image caused by a moving camera.

Image restoration is a set of techniques for restoring historic photographs, sketches, and other archival images in digital format.

The primary software used in this module includes Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, GIMP, and Paint.NET.

Selecting a suitable image[edit | edit source]

  • High resolution
  • Well composed
  • If scanned, then scanned in high resolution on a clean scanner
  • No .jpg artifacting
  • Damage not too extensive

Image types[edit | edit source]

  • Pencil sketch
  • Pen and ink
  • Paintings
  • Engravings
  • Lithographs
  • Photography

Obsolete photography methods[edit | edit source]

  • Daguerrotype
  • Salt paper
  • Colloidon glass
  • Photochrom
  • Sheet Kodachrome

More rarely-seen art[edit | edit source]

  • Chalk
  • Coloured pencils
  • Pastels
  • Etc.

Graphics information[edit | edit source]

  • Raster v. vector graphics

Getting started

This high resolution reproduction of an 1825 hand-tinted etching would make a good starter project.

Getting started

With image restoration, the first decisions are often the most important ones. It's important to select an image that has good potential and fits your skills.

Clarify goals[edit | edit source]

Some historic images have the potential to become featured pictures with a good restoration. Other times, because of limitations in the digital file or the scan the original image, a restoration can only go so far.

Here's an image of judge Learned Hand as a student:

Click on the thumbnails for the student portrait shows that the original version above was 922 × 682 pixel, file size: 136 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg. Compare that to the size below for a restoration that became a featured picture.

It may be a humbler subject--just a stonemason at work instead of law students at Harvard--but the photographic composition is pleasing and it serves as a good illustration of stonemasonry using traditional tools. The file size is also more than 20 times greater. Large files take more time to repair, but they also carry more information at high resolution.

One type of restoration isn't necessarily better than the other: both serve useful purposes. Be realistic about what your aims are, and about how much time and effort you intend to devote to a restoration. A skilled restorationist could do the student portrait in an hour, but the stonemason image would take a couple of days.

Be realistic about your skills[edit | edit source]

  • Types of media
  • File sizes
  • Copyright
  • Triage for image editing (easy-impossible-tough)
  • Best practices
  • Research
  • Choosing a vision and following it
  • Types of problems

Pencil sketch lithograph

Lincoln and Johnsond.jpg

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[edit | edit source]

Original image from United States Library of Congress file, slightly downsized.

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.

First edit[edit | edit source]

Planning out the rotation and cropping: Try to get an idea of what your final crop will be, but don't actually do the crop yet.

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.