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Remove Photopaper Texture From Old Photos
Posted by: Flora on 12-31-1969.

"One way to remove texture from old pictures using Photoshop and a Noise Removing Software."

Surely, the best way to remove/minimize photopaper texture from images, is scanning them at different angles as Jeanie has explained very clearly here ...

However, often, a re-scan of the picture is not an option and removing the 'blasted' honeycomb pattern from an image can be a very frustrating experience...

If tackled  too strongly, it might obliterate important details as well ... if  tackled too softly, it only slightly reduces the still 'very visible' pattern .... and a selective strong-soft approach can lead to what resembles a photomontage.

Always aiming at the most natural looking end result, after trying many different ways, I found that this combination of Noise Removing Software (for me, Neat Image which can be downloaded free here) and good old 'Gaussian Blur',  is the one that gave me the best results.

Thanks again to FrannyMae for letting me use a picture of her beautiful mother for this Tutorial!

Image 1 shows original and finished restoration.....

Image 1  

......but for better showing texture and proceedings I'm using a cropped version of it. (Image 2)

Image 2

What I did:


  • Duplicated the Background Layer twice.
  • On the first duplicate I run Neat Image (defaul settings). (Image 3)
  • On the second duplicate (on top) I run Gaussian Blur (Radius = 1.8)....  (Image 4)


  Image 3                                                  Image 4

Working on the 'Gaussian Blur Layer' :
  • I added some noise,  (Filter > Noise > Add Noise: Uniform, Monochromatic, Amount = 0.68%)
  • adjusted the Layer's Opacity (75%), 
  • added a Layer Mask and, using a soft black brush, 
  • I painted over eyes nostrils and mouth to uncover those sharper features from the underlying 'Neat Image' Layer. (Image 5, Image 6)


         Image 5                                                                  Image 6

  • If necessary, I create a new empty Layer and with the Blur Tool ('Use All Layers' box checked) (using a soft brush 60-80% Opacity) I carefully go over hard edges to smoothen them out. (Image7)

Image 7

  • Merged Visible. (here is how to do it without losing the underlying Layers)


My image looked, now, 'naturally' smooth .... I had removed all the texture... (well, most of it...), but it was a bit flat and still unsharpened

.... to create satisfactory 'Luminosity' and 'Shadow' Masks,

  • I clicked on the Channels Tab,
  • duplicated the Blue Channel by dragging it on the 'Create a New Layer' Tab at the bottom of the Layers' Palette,
  • used the Levels to increase the contrast
  • and Ctrl + Click on the corrected Blue Channel duplicate to select its 'Luminosity'. (Feather =1 Pixel) (Image 8, 9)


               Image 8                                                                               Image 9

Back to the Layers and to the top 'Merged Layer', with the selection still active,

  • I copied the selection on its own Layer (Ctrl + J),
  • set its blending to 'Screen' and adjusted its Opacity (50%).

Image 10

The increased luminosity had added dimension to the image!  (Image 11)

Image 11


  • Finally, I created a Shadow Mask (same procedure as for creating the Luminosity Mask, plus Ctrl + I to invert it...) (Image 12)

Image 12

  • ... Used USM to sharpen the 'Shadow Mask' Layer only,
  • added a Layer Mask (Black = Hide All) and, with a soft white Brush I uncovered the sharper areas I wanted to show. (Image 13)

Image 13

  • Merged Visible.

Here is the Before&After. (Image 14)

Image 14

And here the difference between using a Noise Removing Software only (in my opinion, unnatural, plastic look) and 'my' combination ... (Image 15)

Image 15

As for everything else done with Photoshop, there are many, and surely better/faster, methods to achieve the same result .... It's just a matter of time and preferences...

Ciao, ciao... Flora.  :)

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