How to Restore Grainy Scanned Photos

Written by jennifer meyer
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How to Restore Grainy Scanned Photos
The graininess of a photo may be natural or the result of scanning. (vintage artistical stylish background, grainy image by Stasys Eidiejus from

Digital designers call the graininess found in scanned photos "noise." This noise can either be due to a low resolution scan, because the original photo was grainy, or because the original photo had a lot of dust on it when it was scanned. Getting rid of this noise requires a lot of trial and error because each photo is a different case, but there are several common techniques that you can use to address the problem.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Digital art software
  • Photo

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  1. 1

    Open your art program and load your photo into it. Decide how much of the graininess you wish to remove. It may be that only part of the photo is affected. If this is the case, use the Lasso tool to select that portion of the photo. Then go to the Select menu at the top of your program screen and click "Feather." Enter a value of 8 pixels when prompted for a value. If you wish to affect the whole photo, simply skip this step.

  2. 2

    Go up to the Filter menu at the top of your program screen and click it. Select "Noise" from the drop-down menu and "Reduce Noise" from the secondary menu.

  3. 3

    Adjust the sliders in the pop-up that appears. The appearance will depend on what program you are using, but these sliders often include the strength of the filter and a slider for the sharpness of your photo. Play around with the sliders to get your photo the way you want it. There should be a preview of your photo included in the pop-up that changes as you manipulate the slider. When you are satisfied, click "OK."

  4. 4

    Zoom in on an area of remaining graininess. Select the smudge tool from the program's tool bar. Set the smudge value to 70 per cent at the top of your program screen. Click and hold your mouse on an area of colour near a large grain particle. Drag your cursor over it. The cursor will smudge over the graininess. You can also try using the Blend tool to eliminate graininess. You can access the blend tool by right-clickin the Blur tool and selecting it from the drop-down menu that appears.

  5. 5

    Clic the Filter menu again. Select Blur, then Smart Blur. Adjust the sliders in the pop-up menu that appears. These sliders manipulate the portions of your photo that will be blurred. The filter distinguishes between edges and aims for the interior of objects. Manipulate the sliders until you are satisfied, then click "OK."

Tips and warnings

  • If one step of this article does not work, skip that step and try the others. Not all steps necessarily work with all photos.

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