Scanning Instructions for Restoration or Retouching Work


Below are instructions and recommended settings for digitizing physical prints for restoration or retouching work. The quality of the original image is the single largest limiting factor in how much restoration or retouching work can be done to improve an image. That is why it is very critical to get the highest quality digital image before any work is done. The instructions below should help guide you toward digital files that will produce the best possible results.

Scanning Process Overview

  1. Obtain known print copies of an image.
  2. Digitize image(s) at high resolution using a flatbed scanner.
  3. Email digital image for evaluation and estimate.

Multiple Copies of Images

If you have an original digital copy of the photograph, that is always preferred. It may often be the case with retouching that you have a digital image already, however, restoration work is almost exclusively done on pictures that were at least at some point in print.

Each time an image is copied or scanned-printed, it loses tremendous levels of quality. In other words, copies of copies do not provide nearly as much detail as the original. It is best to provide the digital version of the original picture or, in the absence of the original, provide the closest copy to the original. If you have multiple copies of the image that have at least a noticeably different quality to them, providing those may offer some helpful restoration or retouching possibilities. For instance, if one copy of the image is damaged on the left side, but another is damed on the right side, those two images can very often be composited (stitched together) such that the good portions of each are used, thus using more of the original image without the need for reconstruction.

Scanning Instructions

First, you will need to scan the image using a flatbed scanner. If you have a scanner, please consult your scanner’s user guide or instruction manual to learn the basics of how your scanner works. You will also need to setup your scan settings/properties so that you send us the best image with the most information possible. See below for recommended settings and information about file types.

If you do not have access to a flatbed scanner, you may take your image to a print shop, office supplies store, or shipping store. Most of their copiers have scanning options. This may also be the only viable option for very large prints that may be beyond the scale of a typical home scanner.

If you have a physical print that is torn into several pieces, you will need to send all of the pieces to us. The easiest way to do this is to scan them all at once. Important: do not put the pieces back together as they would originally appear before scanning. If you do this, you may inadvertently cover up a vital portion of the image. Instead, put the pieces in their approximate location, leaving some space between them.

Recommended Settings

Resolution: 300 dpi or higher

File format: TIFF or PDF are preferred (JPEG, PNG, GIF, or their variants are acceptable, but not preferred)

Bit depth: 16-bit color or higher are preferred (8-bit color is acceptable)

Compression: Lossless and uncompressed are preferred

Color space: RGB, Adobe RGB, sRGB, or ProPhoto RGB are preferred

Sending Images

Digital images can be emailed to Most images are small enough to be emailed as an attachment (generally 25 MB or smaller). 

Larger images may be too large for the email client. Use of a cloud storage services, such as DropBox, OneDrive, or iCloud, may be helpful. Most cloud storage services allow one to upload a file (i.e., image file) and then obtain a link for sharing. Simply email the public link to the file. From there, we can download the digital file directly and proceed.

If you aren't sure how to send a digital image, contact me for assistance.