OK this was a tough one.

My almost ninety year old client wants to use this image of her sister in a book about her life. Does that give you an idea of how old this photo is??

Oh yeah, can you please remove the ink?

original photo scan

This is the original scanned photo for repair. I make a safety scan to preserve the original before attempting any rehab on a photo

Can Photoshop do the whole job?

So off to the Internet to see how other people have conquered this problem. What did we do before the Internet? I found this suggestion to use hand sanitizer and a Cue-Tip to help remove the ink from the photo without destroying it. I made the scan above as a safety measure in case the idea didn’t pan out we at least would have the original to work with. My first thought was I might be able to see through the ink by working the Channels in Photoshop. But, it turns out the ink was solidly applied. I could rescue a little detail but not enough to see her hair.

To the sanitizer!

So it’s time to try the hand sanitizer. I had some Purell hand sanitizer ‘Refreshing Gel’ that I use when traveling and thought it would be better than straight liquid. And, I was right. Being in gel form allowed gentle application without too much moisture hitting the photo. Please note that this is a resin coated print which allowed this. I believe if this was a fiber print I would not have had near as much success.

scan after ink removal

Scan of the print after as much ink as possible had been removed.
(note: I made safety scans throughout the process on a regular basis of ink removal each time I acquired more detail)

Back to Photoshop (to the Rescue!)

With as much ink removed as possible enough detail has bee revealed to begin the process of restoration. Removing scratches, age spots, restoring color, retouching out the rest of the blue ink involved various tools including the Rubber Stamp (clone) Tool, Patch Tool, Spot Healing Brush, Dodge & Burn Layers, **NIK Silver FX Pro 2, **NIK Color FX 4, Add Noise and more.

finished image

Here’s the final image.

Yours in Creative Photography,   Bob

PS – **NIK software is now owned by GOOGLE. The whole NIK Suite of plug-ins is now available for only $149. If you own any of the individual programs and have the serial number GOOGLE will give you the rest of the suite at no charge.