Spot and Scratch Removal

Film and prints are sometimes damaged by handling or a lack of care during processing. Scans from damaged media will show every defect that was on the original. Touching up digital images from scanned film or photos is far easier than hand spotting a photo print with fine brushes and pigments. The tools used in digital spot removal are very similar to actual brush and pigment but far more versatile. The most common tool is the clone tool (called the rubber stamp clone tool or paint brush clone tool in some programs). the clone tool allows the user to select a predetermined pixel diameter area on the image to 'collect' pixels from that will later be pasted over the area to be touched up in the same diameter  of coverage as the 'collection' area. The pixel collection area is usually very close or adjacent to the area to be 'repaired' or 'spotted'. The object is to find pixels that are nearly exactly the same color of the scratched or spotted area and then replace the damaged area with the collected group of pixels.

The parameters for the clone tool are usually found in a tool specific tool bar that appears under the ‘file / edit / image… toolbar at the top of the imaging program's user interface after the tool is selected. For a starting point select NORMAL for mode, 100% OPACITY and ALIGNED. Aligned means the selection point is always the same distance and angle from the placement point. If you uncheck aligned, the selection point stays at its original selection place on the image. To make a selection hold down ALT or SHIFT (keyboard actions to activate the selection area of the clone tool may vary with each image editing program) and left click the area you want to ‘collect’ the pixels from. Then place the cursor where you want to ‘place’ those pixels and do another left click. Every time thereafter that you left click the program will sample pixels from the adjacent collection area and place them in the area the cursor is over in the circumference area of the brush size. Brush size, shape and texture properties dialogs are usually available in the tool properties dialog box or by right clicking anywhere on the image. This is nothing more than a sophisticated copy and paste operation.

Occasionally one may find use for a 'paint' brush tool in touch up work. The difference between the two is that The paint brush uses any color from the program's available color selection palette. Most digital photo spot removal and touch up is done with a clone or rubber stamp clone tool because the solid colors (each pixel the EXACT same color) that are applied with a paint brush tool are seldom seen in photographs.