Fix grainy scanned pictures

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Fix grainy scanned pictures

Not all scanned pictures turn out perfect. Sometimes they end up grainy. So how do you fix it?

Using your Photo editing software and if your software has these options you can:

If only part of the picture is grainy, select just that portion to work with. If you are working with the whole picture, skip this and go on.
Go the your menu options and select the tool that will allow you to Feather. Enter a value that will adjust the picture, which is usually 8 pixels.

Select the Filter menu option and go to Noise. Reduce the Noise.
Adjust the levels, the strength, the sharpness. Play with the levels to adjust the picture to your likeness. Click Ok to save the changes.

Zoom in on any of the areas that are still grainy. Select the smudge tool from the tool bar. Set the smudge value to about 70 %. With your mouse drag over the area. Hold the left mouse button down while smudging the area.

Or try using the blend tool, which can be found with the Blur tool.

Select the Filter menu - go to Blur - Smart Blur. Adjust the sliders until you are satisfied. Click OK to save the changes.

This is just one option, if you have a different way of fixing grainy pictures, share with us.

I have found that the scanner bed must be absolutely clean.I scan on the highest resolution, and adjust scanner settings.
For example, I may scan a 5x7 so the outcome is 8x10 or larger. When "compressed" to the smaller size of 5x7 or smaller in the software, it sort of "smoothes" out the pixels. Of course, some old photos are just plain grainy.

A quick and dirty technique I learned is to make a new layer over the photo, in PS. Then, using a soft brush, adjusting for size, but use a smaller brush than the area you will be working on...

I found this techrique invaluable, for old photos and facial skin! It takes several tries to find what works best for each photo...don't give up!

Select a soft brush
Place the brush where you want to repair
Right mouse click to pick the right colorl
Brush the area you want smoothed
Go to Filters, Gaussian Blur, and select amount somewhere in the first 1/3 of the slider
Play as needed with opacity, blending modes
You can duplicate that layer if neeeded, or change opacity
If the blur caused caused the color to overlap, use a soft erase brush

Thanks for the input. I will have to try this.

I have found that graininess often results from scanned photos that were originally printed on matt paper with the "bumps" that were popular some decades ago. So I have a LOT of those photos. Also, professional studios usually used these papers for their portrait photos. Most scanners have a setting that you can adjust to help get rid of that graininess during the scanning. They're not perfect, but you could try doing a comparison scan to see whether it works better for you than the post-scan processing in Photoshop. Some of the grainy photos will also result in a scan with a moiré effect (like taffeta), and scans from newspapers or magazines will show a patterened effect (like gingham) from the various angles used in the printing. Scanners have a setting to reduce these effects as well. So check out your scanner instructions to see what might work best for your photos.

Thanks Dona. This is also a great tip.

Thanks for this tip! Like others, I’d noticed this but never really knew how to work with it.