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There is nothing wrong with paper texture in a photo; sometimes it looks really good, and some people love the effect. I have even had customers ask me specifically to not remove the paper texture, which tends to make my job a little bit tougher. You see, while paper texture may look pretty on those old photos, it can make restoring a lot harder. Texture presents a unique problem. When using, say, the Spot Healing brush, and running it over a bit of damage, it can make a smudge where the texture doesn't line up perfectly any longer.
What we need to do is smooth the texture, making it easier for us to get a better result. Texture shows up on a digital photo because the light catches in the texture during the scanning process. If scanning is your only option--the other being a good camera with a copy stand, lights and filters--then there's another way to reduce the appearance of texture, if you have the original photo and a scanner. Begin by scanning the image, facing at least two different directions, preferably four directions.
This cancels out the light, catching the texture from all of the angles. After scanning, bring your scans up in Bridge. If you need to rotate any of your scans, select them and go to the rotate arrows up here. When the scans are all oriented the same direction, select them all by holding down Shift. Now go to Tools > Photoshop and Load Files into Photoshop Layers. Back in Photoshop, select all the layers by clicking on the bottom and top layers while holding the Shift key down.
Now go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers. Leave it at the default, Auto, and click OK. This will align the images just a little bit more than they may have been, to make sure you have a really good match. Now, we're going to turn off the visibility of all but the bottom two layers by clicking on the Eye icon. And select the second layer by clicking on this area. Now go up to your Layer Blend modes and select Darken.
You can still see a texture pattern, but since the amount of the light has been cut down, it's just a bit better. Now, we want to combine these bottom two layers by selecting Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E on a PC, Shift+Command+Option+E on a Mac. And now we're going to select the next layer up and make it visible: go again to Layer Blend modes and select Darken. That takes a little bit more of the texture out, and we're going to repeat the process again, combining the layers using Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E or Shift+Command+Option+E and select the next layer, the last one, make it visible, go to your Layer Blend modes and select Darken.
That takes care of the last bit of remaining light from the light of the scanner on the texture. Now, we want to combine all the layers one more time, again Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E or Shift+Command+Option+E and go up to Filter > Blur > Surface Blur, and try a radius of around 3 and a threshold of 50, which we have here already-- that's not your default--and clicking OK.
If you feel it's a little bit blurry, you can always go to your Opacity and bring it down. We'll try around 75%. Now let's zoom the image in on her face. Let's get it back up to her face here and look at before and after. Let's bring this here. Here is before, and here is after. That's a pretty dramatic difference. Now we have a nice photo without all the light from scanning the texture, but the texture still visible.
Even though you're not often going to be able to get rid of texture 100%, and even if you lessen it, there will be a loss of at least a little detail. But it's still possible to reduce the appearance of texture without making the image a blurry mess. Later in this course we'll go over how to get a little bit more of the detail back.
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