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Repairing tape damage in a color photo can present different challenges because of the colors. Let's take a look at this image of a car. We need to get rid of this very obvious, very yellow piece of tape right through the main part of the image, which is the car. The first thing you'll want to do is duplicate your background layer using Ctrl+J on a PC, Command+J on a Mac. Go over to your toolbar and select your Polygonal Lasso tool. Start at the top of one side of the tape and click and bring it down to select the whole piece of tape.
Get as close as you can to the edges. It's okay if you go a little over; just get as close as you can. And now we want to put it on its own layer using Ctrl+J or Command+J. We are going to reselect that selection that we just put on its own layer by holding down Ctrl, or Command, putting your cursor over the thumbnail itself, and clicking. Now we are going over to the toolbar again and selecting the Eyedropper tool, and we're going to select a color in the tape and then use Alt+Backspace, or Option+Delete to fill that selection. Ctrl+D or Command+D will deselect.
Now go to Image > Adjustments > Invert and over to your Layer Blend Mode menu, and select Soft Light. Now we are going to lower the opacity a little and see if we can get a little better match here with our colors, but it's going to look more faded than your photo. That's just going to be natural. We're going to bring that back here in a second. I put it down to around 80%, and that'll work. Now we're going to combine it with the layer below using Ctrl+E or Command+E and make a new blank layer above it using your Create a new layer icon.
We are going to go back over to our Eyedropper tool, which is still selected from the last time, and select an area in this general area around the tape. We're going to paint in some color now to help it match a little better. Get your Brush tool. You can adjust your brush size with your open and close bracket keys. Keep it a little close-- we selected it over here--and just start painting in an area. Just to get started, go over to your Layer Blend modes and select Color, and you can see now where this is going to match and where this isn't going to match.
So you will be going back over to your eyedropper and selecting other colors, back to your Brush tool and paint in other areas to help you get those colors back again. Back and forth with your eyedropper-- there's a lot of colors; you will be doing that quite often--and then to your brush until you get some decent matches. You don't want to do the tape all in one color. These are obviously different colors.
We're trying to blend this in. Let's do one more area, say the hood of the car, which is fairly light. It shouldn't be too hard to match, I hope; it just lightens it up a little bit maybe. Okay, this is addictive. Let's do just one more. It's always what it is, isn't it? just one more. And this isn't dramatic. It's very, very subtle. It's just to help fool your eye that maybe it's not quite so obvious. Then something else you can try on top of this is go down to your Create a new filler adjustment layer, hit the Curves adjustment, maybe bring up the lightness here, bringing your histogram toward your top-left corner, okay, and then invert your mask, Ctrl+I or Command+I, and again your Brush tool is selected.
I can go here, and that brightens things up just a bit also. So our tape is looking more and more like the rest of the image, getting a little color back in there. That may be too light right there. It could be better on these lighter areas and if that's the case, invert your foreground and background colors, paint back over, and paint that out--a little bit of a painting lesson here.
Then to see how this is all going to match, if it's going to be really well, go up Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and just soften the edges a bit, so you don't see any really specific edges. Click OK. Then when you get all your painting in and you still have these edges that you'd like to get a little more blended, you can go to your top layer, use Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E on a PC, Shift+Command+Option+E on a Mac, make a new layer of the combination of all the layers, select your Patch tool, and then you can blend in the edges of that tape a little better. And get this crease that's in the middle, bring that over, and the edges, and so on, until you're through with the entire piece of tape.
Just to see the difference, let's hit before and after. It still might not be 100% perfect, but you have to admit it's a lot better. The method of tape-damage repair is different in black-and-white and color photos, but repair is almost always possible. It may not look 100% perfect, but if you practice your skills, it can look close to perfect.
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