Few of us get to know more than our nearest and dearest relatives. Further back than this, our ancestors exist only as the subject of family folklore and, of course, in fading photos. My brother is tracing our family history and, if the old photos collected from long-lost cousins are anything to go by, I’m not sure this is such a bad thing.

Not a single photo is lit properly, the depth of field is unforgivable and apparently none of them had heard of white balance. Worst of all, years of neglect have left the photos worn and damaged.

Repairing old photos is only a tiny element of what photo-editing software can do, but it’s the element that many will most want to use. Being presented with appalling before and stunning after pictures can seem almost miraculous. Luckily, it isn’t.

You needn’t spend a fortune on pricey editing software to achieve these results, either. In the following walkthrough, we’ve used Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo X1 to repair some damaged photos with the Clone Brush. Corel recently launched Paint Shop Pro X2 and X1 has consequently plummeted in price. This is pretty much the rule of thumb for most outdated software.

1. In Paint Shop Pro Photo X1, go to File, Open and browse to the image you want to repair. Select the Clone Brush from the Tools palette. This palette will appear on the lefthand side of your image by default, but its location and orientation can be changed simply by clicking and dragging.

Step 1

Step 1

2. Change the size of the Clone tool in the Settings palette above the workspace. A large brush will reproduce too much of the image, while a small brush will be time-consuming and ineffective. Set the Hardness and Opacity to 50 percent, which will give you greater control and soften the brushstrokes.

Step 2

Step 2

3. The aim is to copy pixels from one section of an image to paint over nearby blemishes. Zoom into the area you want to correct, then place your brush next to the blemished area. Now either right-click or hold down Shift and click. This will select the undamaged area below your cursor as your pixel source.

Step 3

Step 3

4. Position your cursor over the blemish you wish to correct and click. This action will paint clean pixels on to the damaged area. Keep clicking until the area under your cursor is clean. Now position your cursor over any other blemished areas in the image and repeat as necessary.

Step 4

Step 4

5. You’ll notice that when you move your cursor your pixel source matches that movement. If you wish to keep it in the same place, ensure that Aligned mode in the Brush options palette isn’t ticked. However, you’ll get a far more natural result by changing your pixel source every few clicks.

Step 5

Step 5

6. The Clone Brush can also be used to paint strokes by holding down the mouse button as you move the cursor. However, this may create more problems than it corrects. I’d recommend sticking to the method outlined in steps 1 to 5. Remember to keep zooming out to see how your work is progressing.

Step 6

Step 6

See also: How to repair photos using copy and paste