Simple Steps to Enhance Bad Images

PCQ Bureau
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There are two important things you need to do before working with any image.

First, never work on the original file. Always work on a copy. That way, you do

not lose the original image if something goes wrong. Second, even with the copy,

do not work on the original layer. Create a duplicate layer and do all your work

on it. So, let's get started.


Open the copy in Photoshop. The picture looks slightly pixelated, with thick

dark horizontal bands all over the image. We have to remove the bands and the

lines and make it brighter and smoother. After the enhancement, we need to

compare the difference between original and enhanced image

To create a new layer, select the image and on the layer palette (this will be
labelled 'Background' by default), and drag it onto the Create-New-Layer

icon. The first step is to clean the image, using the Heal Brush and remove

obvious marks and blemishes including the banding. Make the brush size small in

order to sample and brush away the blemishes without losing important details.

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The next step is to remove dust and scratches using the Dust & Scratches

filter. Two slider controls adjust the degree to which this filter affects the

image. Radius determines the size of the dust or scratch that will be

recognized. Threshold sets the difference between the element and surrounding

area. For this image I have set radius to 4 pixels and threshold to 0.


Now we should remove the banding and also give the whole image a creamier

complexion. Gaussian Blur is the best filter for this. Blurring lightens the

pixels found next to the hard edges of well defined lines and shaded areas.

Gaussian Blur smoothens and softens images in variable amounts. Gaussian Blur

radius value is from 0.1 to 250 pixels. For this image we use 0.5 pixels. Next

open the Add Noise filter to give human skin a natural look. Lets use 2.0% noise

with 'Monochromatic' selected. Select the skin area using the pen tool to draw

smooth freehand curves. Now, go to the Path window in the layers palette. There

we can see the work path. Select the work path and click on arrow on the right

and select Make Selection from there. In the window that opens, you have to give

the feather radius. Use a value higher than 10. Now the skin area is selected.

Go to Levels or Curves and adjust the color.

Open a copy of the image in Photoshop. This image has both banding and pixelation that we will need to remove
Use the Healing Brush tool to clean up the image. Don't use the Clone tool for this
Open a copy of the image in Photoshop. This image has both banding and pixelation that we will need to remove
Use the Dust and Scratches filter to remove pixelation from our photograph
Gaussian Blur smoothens the image and gives it a natural creamy look
The picture has become too smooth making it look artificial. Add Noise filter gives the skin a natural tone
On the left is our original photograph. On the right is the cleaned up and enhanced image. The difference is obvious

After correcting the skin color, select the clothing and do the color

correction for it in the same way. If there are different elements of clothing

of varying color or tone, you will have to color correct each separately. You

will notice that the color in the background is spoiled by few patches in some

areas. What you need to do is to remove the patches and make the background

clear or replace it with any other color of your choice.

Finally, we need to sharpen the image little bit. We applied a few filters

and these filters removed the sharpness of the image. We need to compensate for

this. Choose >filter >unsharp mask filter. Apply for this filter according

to the image. Don't apply more sharpness than the image can take.

That's all. Compare the original and the final images to see the difference