It’s not unusual for old family photographs to be in bad shape. Negatives that have been stored in shoe boxes or envelopes tend to collect dust and scratches or experience damage from heat and moisture. Photoshop has always been a great tool for restoring old photos, but the whole process just got easier. Photoshop’s 2023 release features new AI powered filters that make it easy to quickly restore old photographs in just a few steps.
In a new video Aaron Nance of Phlearn demonstrates how to use these powerful new tools while restoring an old photograph of his mom and dad at the beach. Keep in mind that these new filters are only available in the newest version of Photoshop, so you will need to download the update through Creative Cloud if you’d like to try them for yourself.
#1 Convert the Old Photo to Smart Object
Open the photo that you want to restore in Photoshop, right click on the layer and convert the layer to a smart object. Converting the image to a smart object means that you change the layer down the line—a smart idea any time you are using filters.
#2 Create a Neural Filter
Under the Filter tab select Neural Filter—again these new filters are only available in the new version of Photoshop, so make sure that you are using the 2023 version of the program. Scroll to the bottom to find the Photo Restoration filter. This particular filter is still in beta, so you might have to download it from the cloud to use it. Turn it on and it will begin analyzing the image. Once you’ve turned the filter on you will be able to adjust sliders for photo enhancement and scratch reduction. The biggest problem with Nance’s photo was the amount of scratches and that auto scratch reduction did an excellent job at correcting some of the problem areas.
#3 Colorize the Old Photo
This particular Neural Filter works best with large images with a lot of information, although Nance was working with a relatively small image, the Colorize filter still did a nice job identifying that the ocean should be blue and that the people in the frame should not be. This Neural Filter also gives you the option to manually choose what colors different areas of the frame should be. Once you’ve finished colorizing scroll down and click the option to output as a new color layer.
#4 Refine the Old Photo using Masking Tools
Create a new layer, click image and select apply image—this will put all of the elements from the previous steps into a single layer. Turn the layer into a smart object. Select filter and Camera Raw Filter and select the masking tools. Use the masking tools to make precise adjustments to different areas of the frame. Nance used the subject selection mask to select his parents and then adjusted the exposure to make his parents stand out in the frame.