Photoshop: Better tools for streak repair

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Photoshop needs a better tool for removing scratches and streaks.

I've read lots of tutorials and ideas.  Most advice seems to recommend the spot removal tool, but as it's name implies, it is optimised for removing spots.  Doing the repair in many short segments works better than trying all at once, and often I resort to just lots and lots of spots, but even then, I need to redo the edges and backtrack and even resort to the eraser.  I do it on a separate layer, so the eraser works.  The history brush might work too, but the eraser is simpler and easier.  But a scratch is a lot different from a spot, and a special scratch removal tool gives the human the opportunity to provide more information of where Photoshop should search for suitable pixels. 

When really desperate, for some sky scenes and even water sometimes, I use the spot healing brush to do a "near enough" repair, and then the median filter with suitable masks on a separate merged layer to do a better job, but rather obviously, that doesn't work for the subject of the image.  And it all becomes a big chore. 

In fact, a relatively crummy algorithm that is only a whisker smarter than a blur might be optimum: If the human, me, identifies the ends of the scratch, the computer can know that the best pixels are adjacent to the scratch and use those.
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Keith Anderson

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  • down but hopeful

Posted 1 month ago

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Kukurykus

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You may post screenshots illustrating the problem or even better link to a short video of...
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Keith Anderson

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Hello Kukurykus,


Wow.  That was quick.  I'll try to remember the Alt Print Screen trick. 

I have an email address, but I don't have yours, so I don't know what to do with my image or screen shot to get it here or where you can see it.  I notice that another person who replied to me has included a screen shot in his reply, so I'll get brave and see what I can do - or break. 

I notice that there is an icon of a camera below this input box.  I hovered over it, but it didn't tell me what it does.  I wonder if it'll paste my screen shot.  I'll test it in another message when I get brave. 


Thanks.


Keith
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Kukurykus

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You may leave a link to uploaded screenshot in some service, or simply click first Camera icon (while posting) and select file from your disk or drag it to your post.

My e-mail address wouldn't be good solution, as only me would see it on this forum.
(Edited)
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Keith Anderson

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Hello Kukyrukus,


Thanks for so much help.  If three photos appear below, we'll know I understood it. 

Ducks Scratch As Scanned,
Well, cropped a bit.  One big, several smaller scratches at bottom.


Ducks Scratch, reasonable but neither lazy nor zealous attempt to repair
with spot heal and content aware. 
Quite good at this size, but enlargement reveals streaks in weeds at lower left. 



About as good as I could get it after quite a lot of effort. 
I've adjusted brightness a bit too. 
That reveals that I've not done as well as I thought I had.  Drat. 



Maybe I'm just too fussy.

Thanks again.

Keith
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Kukurykus

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Why don't you make selection around a crack and use 'Edit / Fill' with 'Content Aware'?
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Keith Anderson

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Hello Kukurykus,


Ah.  The honest answer is, "Because I hadn't thought of that".

I'll try it.


Thanks.


Keith
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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I assume you are talking about removing scratches and streaks from scanned film or prints. If so I get very good results using the Spot Removal tool with Type 'Content Aware.' Click on the beginning of the scratch, hold the Shift key down, and click on the end of the scratch.

Perhaps some screen captures with a detailed settings and usage description can better illustrate the issue.


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Keith Anderson

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Thanks for such a detailed reply, with a very helpful screen showing what to set. 


Sadly, I'm already aware of the Content Aware setting, and the hardness  and the size, and I've tried lots of other tricks like a two step procedure using the spot healing brush with content aware on a separate layer and then the eraser to clean up the mess the spot healing brush has made.  I've even discovered subtleties such as "When a smaller brush doesn't work, try a larger one; it doesn't always fail." 

On sky, the click one end, click the other produces a satisfactory repair rarely, but with a bit of extra work I can get it to good enough for about 60% of the scratches.  On textured subjects like water, the success rate plummets.  Tormentingly, the results are often worse on the important parts of the image and quite good on the unimportant parts.  Sigh. 


I'm reasonably confident that we need a new tool, similar to but different from, the spot healing brush so it can know that the best pixels to use are those near the scratch, not those remote from it. 


Thanks again,  Keith
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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I had no issues removing the scratches in the posted screenshot. Not sure what you're doing wrong. I suggest creating a free Dropbox account, upload the original scan file, and then place the 'Share' link in a reply here. Also upload an edited version of the file that demonstrates the issues you're seeing using the Spot Healing brush. I'll take a closer look.

https://www.dropbox.com/individual

(Click on image to see full-size)
(Edited)
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eartho

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Well, there is a tool built specifically for this in Filter / Noise / Dust and Scratches. A good workflow is to duplicate your base layer, run the filter to get rid of everything, then add an inverted mask and use a white brush to "paint out" the scratches below.
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Keith Anderson

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Hello eartho,

Thanks for this idea.  I had tried so many ideas that I thought I'd tried all of them.  This is one I hadn't tried.  Well, I'd tried the Dust and Scratches filter, but that blurs so much it seemed next to useless.  I didn't think of the inverted mask trick.  It certainly seems promising.  I'll try it.

Thanks.

Keith