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There are scratches on an image, and then there are scratches that go on forever through an image. Especially when they're through highly detailed areas, like patterns or eyes, the repair can be pretty detailed. First thing you need to do with your image before working on any of them is duplicate it by using Ctrl+J, Command+J. That way you'll always have your original image to go back and see how your work is faring. This is a great public-domain image from the Library of Congress photographic collection.
You can see that this large scratch-- I am going to zoom out just a little bit here so you can see the whole thing-- this scratch starts on one end and goes through into this patterned area on the vest. Let's zoom back in with Ctrl+Plus or Command+Plus to about 200%. This kind of detailed damage, especially right over here on the vest, is a good fit for the Patch tool. Unlike a large rip that has a lot of white space, we can just take a small space-- go over here and select the Patch tool-- take a small space through the pattern and drag it down, keeping your lines aligned.
You can also do that here in this area with the shadow, which is just a line on the photograph after all, bring it down, and that's a nice repair. If you have Photoshop CS4 and before, the Patch tool is probably your best bet with this kind of work. If you have Photoshop CS5, you can always try the Content-Aware Spot Healing brush. Let's go over to the toolbar again, your Spot Healing Brush tool, and make sure your Content-Aware radio button is ticked.
We're going to go through this area right here. And just with the Content-Aware you can drag it more than you could with your regular Spot Healing brush, which would smudge. With this you can kind of drag it through and it does a pretty good job. Now if you have smudgy areas, like you do right here from the dragging, you'll want to go back over to your Patch tool and do the same as we did before in the pattern--drag it up, keeping them aligned--to clean up the areas.
It's rare that you're going to have one tool to do the whole job. You're more than likely going to use multiple tools--Patch, Healing brush, even the Clone Stamp--and you're going to clean up the areas if they don't do such a good job with another tool. Working with multiple tools is always going to be your best bet. On edges like this, that's where your Clone Stamp tool can come in very handy. Use your Alt or Option, select the area, and you can clean up that edge and make it nice and sharp.
Large areas of damage can require smaller detailed repairs. If you start trying to work fast and repair large areas at a time, the results can be smudged and nothing like you want your work to look like. A little bit of time and a lot of patience will all pay off in the end.
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