Best Photo Restoration Software

What is the best software to restore old damaged photos in 2021?

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SoftOrbits Photo Retoucher Screenshot.

Every photograph is a moment in time, frozen forever. Once it is captured, the moment passes and the photo is all that remains. This is why old photos need to be restored and preserved well, because they all represent precious moments.
There are dozens of accidents that can ruin a photograph - damage from air and water, scratches, coffee stains etc.

Restore old photo..
Damaged old photo restored..

Restoring old photos and bringing them back to life used to require experience in using tools like Photoshop and Lightroom, but not any more!
You have come to the right place to learn about photo restoration software and how to use them. We will even look at free programs that you can use and special tools for MAC.

Which is the best photo restoration software?

What is the best photo restoration software..

Restoring old photos used to be tough because you had to do everything manually. In fact, you could not even turn a faded and torn black and white photo into a fresh, coloured image.
Here, you will learn about SoftOrbits Photo Retoucher, a tool specially designed for cleaning up any damage or scratches in old photos and colourizing them in just a few clicks!
With options like blemish removal, clone stamping and scratch removal, you can select the areas to be cleaned up and let Photo Retoucher do its job. All your old photos can be easily turned into new images ready for framing!

How to use SoftOrbits Photo Retoucher for editing old photos?

Enhancing old photographs is easy with Photo Retoucher because unlike other confusing programs, this is simple to use and curated for old photo restoration.

Photo Restoration Software..

Being an advanced software, you need to download and install it once on your computer to use all its features.
As soon as the installation is complete, you’ll be able to open any image and make it look like a new photo taken from a DSLR.
And the best thing is, you don’t even need any previous image editing experience! The tools are self-explanatory, so you will be able to understand which options to use. For example, to remove a scratch, you simply have to select the pencil icon, mark the scratch and click Remove.
Let us go through the steps you should follow to change an old, fading photo into a brand new image!

How to restore old photos

Scan the original image

The first step is to make a digital copy of the photo you want to restore.

This can be done by scanning the physical image itself using a digital scanner or your phone itself. Unless you are a professional restorer who has to process hundreds of photos, you can simply download a scanning app for your smartphone and use that for free.

However, sometimes a scanned image looks too dark or unnatural to be used. In that case, you can just take a photo of the physical copy. Ensure that you focus properly and take a photo that doesn’t need to be cropped later, so that you have a high quality digital version ready!

After scanning or taking a photo of the original, you are ready for restoration.

Load the image in the program

Add file into Photo Retoucher program..

After you start Photo Resotration Software, you will see an option Add File in the corner. Use that to load the photo in the program and begin editing.

Select the Remove Tool

Select option for remove scratches in the Photo Retoucher program..

In the toolbar on top, you will see an icon marked as Remove. Selecting this will let you mark the damaged or scratched areas and remove them easily.

Highlight the damaged areas

Select damage area on the old photo in the Photo Retoucher program..

Before you actually mark the areas to be restored, select the pencil icon from the right panel first.

This changes your mouse pointer to a small dot. Now, all you have to do is left click on your mouse, and use the pointer to highlight the damaged area. If there is a scratch or a stain somewhere, simply tap and drag over it and mark it in red.

Do not forget to adjust the size of the pencil as per the damaged area!

Photo Retoucher also gives you different options for selecting the area to be restored. Instead of a pencil, you can use the rectangular shape option to simply draw a box. This will help you save time as you won’t have to mark the whole area by hand!

Click Remove

See the result of the Photo Retoucher program..

Once you have selected the areas to be cleaned up, click on the Remove option at the bottom right corner. SoftOrbits Photo Retoucher will analyse the pixels and clean them up automatically without any trace!

What are some other features that Photo Retoucher provides?

Photo Retoucher goes beyond a simple cleaning tool. After removing scratches, stains, date stamps etc. you can use the editing program to process your image too!

Image Correction

Select image correction in the Photo Retoucher program..

No photo can be completely restored without small adjustments in brightness, contrast and white balance. This is why Photo Retoucher is an excellent tool.
Clicking on the Image Correction option in the toolbar will give you different lighting adjustments like contrast, tint, gamma and temperature.
You will not have to open any other software to get the perfect exposure!
There is also an Auto Correction button, where the program itself will adjust the parameters to give you the correct exposure and white balance.

Colourize Option

Colorize your old photo using Photo Retoucher program..

SoftOrbits Photo Retoucher also comes with an automatic colourize option. You can find this option under the list of tools on top.
No matter what the black and white image looks like, Photo Retoucher will analyse the areas and fill them with different colours on its own. Adding colours to a faded photo will definitely bring it back to life!

Manual Cleaning Tools

With highly damaged images, some areas may not be removed in one go. In such cases, you can try using the following three options for restoration, which offer more control over how the spot will be removed:

Clone Stamp Tool

Select Clone Stamp Tool in the Photo Retoucher program..

Clone stamp features are a boon for photographers, because they let you replicate a part of the image over another part. You can use this to duplicate a flower or bokeh in your image, or simple cover up any damaged area with a clean one.
SoftOrbits Photo Retoucher has a Clone stamp tool in its toolbar. The advantage of using this is that you won’t be relying on the software to do the cleaning.
You can manually pick and choose the area which will be used to cover the scratch or stain.

Follow these steps for using this feature:

  1. After opening the photo in Photo Retoucher, select the Clone Stamp icon from the toolbar. Your mouse pointer will now look like a cross.

  2. Now you have to select the good area – which will be cloned and used to cover up whatever part of the photo you wish. Before this selection is made, do not forget to adjust the size of the brush. If you want to clone a large area, like some seashells of your beach photo, you will need to increase the size of the brush.

  3. While holding down the Alt button, left click on the mouse and brush over the area. For restoring an old photo, you will have to select a clean area that matches the background of the damaged area.

  4. Once you are done cloning, you need to stamp that over the bad part of the image. Simply release the Alt key, right click with your mouse, and start moving over the bad part.

  5. As you click and paint, you will see that the selected area is being replicated over the bad area in the image.

This method is very effective for cleaning small scratches which have damaged different parts of the image. By selecting different areas to clone – as per the background colour – you can cover up the scratch in small steps!

Smudge Tool

Select Smudge Tool in the Photo Retoucher program..

Like the name suggests, you can use the Smudge tool to blend and blur a part of the image with its surrounding. This is useful for small spots or faded areas!
By simply clicking on the affected area, you can blend the spot into the background and make it less visible.
During restoration of an old photo, this comes in handy for cleaning up portraits.

Reviews for Photo Retoucher

Photo Retoucher has lessened my workload. Whenever I get lazy to use complicated programs like Photoshop, I know I can rely on this to quickly process the images. The marker tool is especially useful! I use it for portrait, old photos and even wildlife photos.

David B. Tineo
I started using this software to edit an old family portrait. There were lots of fold marks and small scratches. Once I got the hang of the clone stamp feature and the remover brush, I was able to remove most of the scratches and even some wrinkles on the face!

Bonnie Summerall.
After a lot of efforts wasted on Photoshop, I downloaded Photo Retoucher. It is very easy to use and works well enough for me. Since I am not a professional photographer, this is good! While it may not always give the best results when the photo is very old and torn, no other online tool can as well. It has all the basic options like cropping, brightness, spot remover etc.

Jo Howard.

Best Photo Restoration Software

Is there any online software to restore old photographs?

If you cannot download any program and do not want to waste money on subscriptions for advanced tools like Photoshop and Lightroom, you can check out these online options.
With dozens of websites offering editing and restoration features – that too for free – you can explore this list and see what fits your bill.
Enhancing old photos just became simple!

PicMonkey

PicMonkey..

Like Photo Retoucher, PicMonkey comes with all the basic editing tools like cropping, resizing, light and colour adjustments etc., although there is a small price for using all its features.
For restoring old photos, it has an excellent clone and stamp brush. After selecting the source, you can directly start spreading those good pixels over any scratch or water damage you wish to cover.
Apart from cleaning and editing, PicMonkey also has a few special portrait tools, which work great on old family photos which you are trying to recover. These touch-up tools include teeth whitening, eye brightening and lip tint.
For fading portraits, there is also a tan option you can try at a low intensity, since it helps bring back some contrast and colour to faces.

Lunapic

Lunapic..

Lunapic is an amazing online tool that comes with so many features that you might not even be able to try them all. And it’s completely free!
From motion blur effects and perspective correction to colour filters and pencil sketch effects, this website will give you all you need.
For restoration of old photos, there are different methods you can try. One of the most basic and simplest options is to click on Adjust in the toolbar, and select Photo Restore. Lunapic will automatically apply noise reduction and colour enhancement in your photo to give it a new look.
If you want more manual control, you can select the Draw option which contains blemish remover. This will help you get rid of spots by simply clicking on them! Combine them with tools like skin smoothing and masking blends to reduce noise and create a restored photo.

Phowd

Phowd..

This website is actually not an image editing program, but a platform where you can upload a photo and hire actual professionals to do the restoration for you.
While it may not be suitable for enthusiasts and beginner photographers, Phowd is a great place for professional photographers and photo studios. Using this website, you can build a team of professional image editors and share your ideas and comments on how exactly you want the photo to be fixed.

What is the best photo restoration software for MAC?

Although you can still use the above mentioned online options on your MAC device, there are special programs you can download too. You will be able to edit and restore images on the go and won’t have to rely on an internet connection.

Image Mender

Image Mender..

Like Photo Retoucher, Image Mender is a cleaning program with specialized tools which work automatically.
It comes with a marker brush that you can use to highlight the problem areas like stains and scratches, and directly remove them all with one click!
Along with the remover brush, you get tools like skin correction and JPG compression fixing. These are great for portraits as you get not only a clean image, but perfect exposure and clarity too!
The only drawback of this software is that you will have to pay once to download it.

Inpaint

Inpaint..

Inpaint is a great editing and restoration program because it is easy to use, and will not confuse you like Photoshop and Lightroom. While many of its features are available online for free, there is a one time free that you will have to pay to download the full version.
The program gives a cleaning brush just like Image Mender, so you can clean up scratches and damaged areas in just 2 steps – mark and delete! For a more complex restoration of family photos, you can explore options like facial enhancement and magic wand, which go a step beyond automatic removal of spots, and give you a cleaner photo.

Akvis Retoucher

Akvis Retoucher..

Available for both Windows and MAC, Akvis Retoucher can be used a separate program or as a plugin for other advanced software like Adobe and Corel.
You can download Akvis for free and take a trial, but there is a fee to be paid after the trial ends.
Along with a remover brush that works on stains, scratches, watermarks and distracting objects inside the photo, this retoucher also lets you fill up blank areas which may have gotten torn or smudged. You can even expand the photo to elongate it, and the algorithms of Akvis will use the surrounding pixels to fill up the gaps to give you a new composition altogether!

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