Summary: Do you want to fix faded photos but don’t know how? This post is an easy guide to restoring old faded photos like a pro. It shares a 5-step approach to fix and restore faded photos. Plus, you will know how to easily fix faded pictures with Adobe Photoshop, Gimp, and other editing tools.
Photos are precious memories. Old or new, you want to keep them for lifetime, and even beyond for your future generations to see and cherish. However, it’s not easy to protect the old photo prints. With passing years, the colors fade, pictures become dull, brownish, and are damaged by moisture, sunlight, etc. So can a faded photo be restored? If yes, then how? Let’s deep dive into the problem, causes, and learn the best solutions to fix faded photos.
Today cameras are incredibly advanced. They can deliver perfect, high-quality pictures. However, photos captured with any classic retro camera, may not be as clear and sharp. The colors may appear faded with improper brightness and contrast issues.
Further, over a passage of time, the prints of old photographs fade, decolorize, or get washed out due to moisture, humidity, dust, or sunlight. You may find a brown/ grey/ yellow tint on them.
Sometimes a colored shot captured with a smart DSLR or a latest digital camera too appears faded, if the light and camera settings are not correct.
Restoring old, damaged, and faded photos may initially seem daunting, especially if you are new to photography. Luckily, there are image editors like Photoshop known to do a great job of fixing photos. However, there’s always confusion about where to begin.
So here, I have simplified the process into 5 broad steps that usually professionals in the industry follow. Your prints may be 30, 40, 50, and more years old or you may have a new photo captured with a latest camera that has faded over time. Just remember these 5 basic steps before you begin. And, based on your situation, you can restore the photos as new and pristine.
If you have to fix old faded photo prints, first, scan them to convert into digital pictures. Alternatively, you may also capture the printed photos in high quality by using a digital camera. This often gives better results compared to a scanned image. Now, load this digital image to editing software such as Photoshop or Gimp, etc., for editing.
The old, damaged photo might have torn or ripped edges. You can fix the frayed edges by replacing them with the good edges of your photo with the help of an editing software. In case, the corners are not important, simply crop the damaged edges.
Your next step is to repair the damaged sections in the old faded photo. Photoshop, Lightroom, Gimp, and other software have smart brushes, which can fix dampness, cracks, or spots in the same color tone. This will eliminate the shabbiness of the old faded picture and make it appear new. Make sure to create seamless transition between the retouched and the untouched portions of the photo.
After repairing the damaged photo, set the correct white balance. Your old vintage or even new faded photos may not be true to their actual color. They may have a grey, yellow, off-white, orange, or brown tint. By correctly adjusting white balance, the picture would look realistic.
In this last step, do color correction, fix photo blurriness, and reduce noise. Adjust the brightness, contrast, sharpness, hue/saturation, and fix color cast to make the old faded picture vivid.
You are now clear on the steps to follow while restoring faded images. Use this approach to make photos vivid and clear with any photo editing software, be it sophisticated Adobe Photoshop or a free tool like GIMP.
Below we have shared how you can fix faded photos in various photo editing software. There are many ways to do it. You can pick any tool as per your convenience.
There are various techniques to fix the colored faded images in Photoshop. You may use Spot Healing Brush, Clone Stamp Tools, Neutral Filters, or Auto Color Correction options to restore faded color photos. However, it’s not possible to share all methods in one blog.
Below is a quick technique to fix washed out photos in Adobe Photoshop:
Old faded black & white images may be washed out or appear greyish. You can try the below steps to fix old damaged black & white photos in Adobe Photoshop:
Gimp is an open-source image editor. You can fix faded photos free in Gimp unlike the professional Adobe Photoshop. Here are the steps:
Another way to restore faded color pictures in Gimp is by using the Auto White Balance feature of the software. This technique is not recommended to repair old faded photos that have scratches, marks, spots, tears, etc.
Here’s how you can do it:
Corel PaintShop Pro is an affordable alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Although the software doesn’t have extensive advanced tools, it can effectively fix faded and dull old pictures. It has a Fade Correction tool that can quickly restore faded or discolored photographs.
Here’s a fast way to fix faded photos in PaintShop Pro:
Today numerous online photo editing programs are available that can refurbish your dull, old, and faded photos to new. They are quiet easy to use and have almost all the features of a desktop photo editor.
You can enjoy Color Correction, White Balance, Brightness, Hue & Saturation, Filters, and other features, that help to make a faded photo perfect.
The online image editors can eliminate spots, blemishes, scratches, torn edges, and even recolor old damaged photographs.
You may try your hands on Pixlr, Adobe Photoshop Express Editor, PixCut, PicMonkey, or others.
Virus attack or bad sectors in the storage drive can corrupt the image files stored as backup or archives. File corruption can damage your photos and even make them inaccessible. You cannot open a corrupt image file due to different errors. Even if it opens, the photo may appear greyed-out, show discoloration, black screen, etc. The only solution for such corrupt pictures is a photo repair tool — Stellar Repair for Photo. The advanced photo repair software can automatically fix damaged file header, structure, and data.
Be it RAW or JPEG, you can repair all with the help the software. Free trials are available that let you repair the corrupt image file and see its preview.
Restoring color or black and white faded photos to perfection comes with a lot of experiment and practice. There can be multiple ways to tackle this problem. However, this detailed guide simplifies the process for you. It brings the clear 5-step approach to fix and restore faded photos, both old and new ones. Professional photographers, photo editors, and designers follow similar techniques to breathe new life to old faded photos. Further, you may try the methods using popular Photoshop, Gimp, PaintShop Pro, and other editing tools shared in this post to fix faded photo problem.
You can share in the comment box, which method to fix the faded photos you followed. Or if there’s a valuable tip that is missed by us, we would love to hear from you.
Finally, Happy Editing!
Nishat Paiker is an expert technical writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. She has deep knowledge about data recovery and loves to explore new technology and DIY tools. Nishat has keen interest in photography. You will often find her giving photography tips and hacks.
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