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How easy it's going to be to digitally remove ink from an image depends on a couple of things: Was the image scanned in color, and what color is the ink? If it was scanned in color and the ink is in a tone of red, blue, or green, then you may be able to use a Black & White adjustment. Let's see how that works. Here is an image with four colors of ink. Go to the Create a New Fill or Adjustment layer icon and select Black & White. We are going to go through the filters that are mimicking the channels, the Blue, the Green and the Red filters.
With the Blue filter check, you will notice the blue ink has gotten lighter. Let's go to the Green filter and the green ink gets lighter; and the Red filter, and the red ink gets lighter. But also notice the black ink never changes. Let's move to a second image now, one that has black ink. We are going to have to do a little bit of a different method of removal than the Black & White adjustment. The first thing we are going to do is duplicate the original layer using Ctrl+J on a PC, Command+J on a Mac.
The ink in this photo happens to be in a very convenient place, as far as that goes. For the first one we're going to select the Patch tool. We are going to draw a selection around one of the names, and we're going to move it over to a different area. Well, that that got rid of the ink. We have a repeat here that we have to take care of, and that's easy enough: just move it up, and the ink is gone.
What about ink that's not a color and it isn't in such a convenient place? Well, you may have to move to another tool. Let's move to the Clone Stamp tool. Use Alt or Option to select an area and start painting out the ink. You may have to go over it a few times to get rid of repeats, but all in all, we have a really good repair. Take your time and get all the pieces gone, and people may not even know there was ever ink there.
Right or wrong, our ancestors sometimes wrote on photographs. Sometimes it's easier to remove than others, and other times it's a real challenge. As with all restoration, take your time, work on small areas, and have patience. Pretty soon it'll be like you had a digital eraser to wipe it all clean.
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