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enhancing faded inscriptions on a document

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  • enhancing faded inscriptions on a document

    Hi everyone

    Here's something a little different. I'm working on a document that has a bunch of inscriptions that are fading out. I want to enhance the signatures so they are more readable in a copy image but I don't want all the other text and engraved image to get too dark.

    It's black and white so after scanning I used the blue channel and changed to grayscale. Now it looks pretty good but I want it to look better.

    Pretty much anything else I do makes the paper background gray and every handling dent and crease visible (black). I don't want to go back in and fix every inch of background especially with so much text to deal with. I've tried lasso tool for selecting and darkening text but even on a low setting it is picking up grays from the background.

    Anyone ever tried this? Got any quick fixes? I could do a traditional infrared photo of the piece and get good results but I'd like to find a digital solution.


    --Heather Tudhope
    Tudhope Conservation Studio

  • #2
    Try this. Copy the background layer and change the blending mode to multiply. This will make everything too dark but don't worry. Now go to Layer > Add Layer Mask > Hide All. That will fill your layer mask with black hiding the mulitply effect. Now with a small brush and white as the foreground color, paint the letters in that you want to darken.
    If this doesn't darken your inscriptions enough the just copy that layer with the mask again and again until you get the effect you want. OR if it's too dark just lower the opacity of the layer.


    • #3
      What I have done is go to the layers menu/ adjustment layer/levels then use the eyedropper that comes with the levels box to set the lightest dropper to white (your background) and the darkest dropper to your black text you want the darkest. You can then adjust the opacity if needed. The go to the layers menu and flatten/merge down images. I used this on a document I copied and had a lot of grey in between. Just another idea to try!
      Last edited by Jill; 02-06-2002, 12:50 PM.


      • #4
        Take a look at the Retouching Challenge concerning the old religious document. There might be some ideas there. Some excellent work.
        Learn by teaching
        Take responsibility for learning


        • #5
          Thanks everyone.

          I'll let you all know what happens. I didn't have time to try anything yet. I'll post again when I have and I'll try to include pictures. That is if I ever figure out how to attach properly!



          • #6
            The verdict

            Hi again

            Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. DJ's suggestions seemed to do the trick and gave me really great results.

            I don't have the pictures on this computer but will try and post them next time I'm on the site.

            Thanks again!!!!



            • #7
              I'm glad my suggestion worked so well for you. I have to be honest in that I didn't have a way to really test the suggestion so I was happy when you said it worked out. I suppose if there is alot of wording this would be a time consuming task. Hopefully this wasn't the case for you.