When restoring a photo using Photoshop there are so many ways to repair the damage that I thought I would take a typical example of a fold mark or crease and show the ways we can use to repair it.
One method we can use for fixing this damage would be to use the “patch tool”, normally good for correcting or replacing large areas of an image.
Using the Patch Tool
Using the patch tool in this way can sometimes result in smeared colour or tone contamination from nearby contrasting areas. To avoid this clone over any overly dark or light spots so when you outline the area to be patched, the outline runs through an area or similar tone. You can patch through nearly an entire image in this manner. The skill comes from knowing where to take the patch from, as in a lot of circumstances there seems no obvious place to select a donor piece. Of course like any restoration, there will be a fair bit of tidying up to do, such dodging and burning any areas that didn’t patch that well and possibly even using the clone tool to tidy up edges and add back some definition where the patches have left a soft edge.
Using the Clone Tool
Using the clone tool is probably the favourite amongst most of us who know something about Photoshop. It used to great effect and has many options besides the simple clone I have shown here. For example, it can be used in conjunction with “darken” or “lighten” to give great effect when cloning up to contrasting edges or over dark or light patches.
Other methods you could use are the Spot Healing Brush Tool or the Healing Brush. These can be used to great effect when replacing soft or blurred sections of an image with texture from another part of the image, say to add texture or grain back to blurred face or clothing. Here they work fairly well but not as good as the clone.
Using the Spot Healing Tool
Of these methods, they all can be used together especially when patching up or rebuilding a far more complex image. An image such as a child posing in a Victorian photographers studio in a grand chair, with a leg missing and the wooden scrolls damaged on the engravings. This would need careful use of all the techniques above. With these more complex rebuilds, artistic abilities come into play. The ability to see light and dark for shape and form and subtle colours that push and pull detail into and out of the picture. It is these skills that can be used to rebuild and restore the image to its former state.