Free Trial

Safari Books Online is a digital library providing on-demand subscription access to thousands of learning resources.

  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Chapter 9. Rebuilding Techniques > Piecing Together a Torn Photo

Piecing Together a Torn Photo

I was sitting here one evening reviewing my outline for the book and looking through photos to decide which tutorials to include. Right in front of me was a torn-in-half photo of my great-grandparents. I decided to restore it (not even thinking about the book) and put it back together. I finished fixing it and went back to deciding what tutorials to include. I know what you’re thinking: Why not turn what I had just done into a tutorial? Well, I’m not that sharp. It took about 10 minutes, but it did eventually click, so here it is.

Step 1.
Here I’ve scanned in the pieces of my torn photo using the Epson Perfection V750-M PRO. It’s a great scanner and it gives you a very high-quality start from which to restore your photos.



When you’re scanning the photo pieces, make sure you leave ample space between them. I suggest at least a half-inch to make things easier later.

Step 2.
Select the Magic Wand tool (W) from the Toolbox and make sure the Tolerance is set to 32 in the Options Bar. Click on the white background area of the scanner bed to select it.

Step 3.
Now, instead of selecting the scanner bed, I want to select the photo pieces. So, just choose Select>Inverse to select everything but the white scanner bed area. Don’t deselect yet.

Step 4.
I want to put the pieces of the photo onto separate layers. With the marching ants still active, press the L key to select the Lasso tool. Press-and-hold the Alt (Mac: Option) key and you’ll see a little minus sign next to your Lasso tool cursor. This means you’ll be subtracting from the selection. Go ahead and click-and-drag a rough selection around the large piece of the photo to deselect it.

Step 5.
Now you should only have the torn piece of the photo selected. Go to the Layer menu and choose New>Layer via Cut to move this piece up onto its own layer. You should now have two layers in the Layers palette.

Step 6.
It’s now time to position the layer where it belongs. Click once on the top layer (the smaller piece of the photo) to select it and then press Ctrl-T (Mac: Command-T) to go into Free Transform mode. You’ll see a rectangular bounding box appear around the object.

Step 7.
Put your cursor inside the bounding box and move the piece over toward the other photo piece.

Step 8.
Now move your cursor outside the box and it will change to a little, curved two-sided arrow. Click-and-drag in a counter-clockwise direction to rotate the piece into place. Feel free to move and rotate it a few times until you get it just right. Click the green checkmark at the bottom of the bounding box when you’re done to commit the transformation (or just press the Enter [Mac: Return] key).

Step 9.
Okay, at this point we could go on and fix the tear in the photo, but bear with me for a second. First, press V to select the Move tool and move the torn piece over to the right a bit so it’s over the larger photo piece.

Step 10.
Press Z for the Zoom tool and click to zoom in on the right edge of the smaller torn piece. Notice the small white fringe around the edge?

Step 11.
We can leave that white fringe and just clone it out later, but it’ll be a lot easier if we can get rid of it now. Go under the Enhance menu to Adjust Color>Defringe Layer (this is not available in Elements 3).

Step 12.
Enter 2 pixels for the Width setting and click OK. Watch closely and you should see that little white fringe disappear for the most part. This will really help the cloning process, since you’ll have less junk to contend with.

Step 13.
Okay, now move the smaller photo piece back into place and you’re ready to repair the tear in the photo. First, click on the Create a New Layer icon at the top of the Layers palette to create a new blank layer to hold your changes.

Step 14.
Use the Clone Stamp tool (S) just like you did in the “Fixing Minor Tears and Creases” tutorial earlier in this chapter to fix the seam between the two pieces, along with other torn areas. Here, I also used the Crop tool (C) to crop, rotate, and straighten the photo.


You are currently reading a PREVIEW of this book.


Get instant access to over $1 million worth of books and videos.


Start a Free 10-Day Trial

  • Safari Books Online
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint