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Smoothing Texture in Photoshop

This is a re-print of an older TipSquirrel article, from way back in 2009. The original lost it’s images in a server migration and I’ve had someone ask me to re-publish, so here it is! There are other ways and means to smooth texture, of course, this is just one among many. It’s good to know people are searching the TS archives! It’s a good thing I’m such a digital pack rat…I hope this will help someone!


A lot of old photos have a textured appearance. Some are so bad they look like they were printed on a heavy watercolor paper, which is a very artsy effect, I’m sure, just not to everyone’s taste! Texture can be corrected, especially if it isn’t too terribly deep, and here’s a super easy way to do it!



Sometimes, the texture in a photo, while not looking horrible to the naked eye, once enlarged for restoration looks pretty bad. All it takes is a couple easy steps to smooth it out and get on with the restoration process!



The first thing we’ll do is to put on a little surface blur. This is really the main piece of the whole process, everything else is just finishing touches. Go to Filter > Blur > Surface Blur. In the dialog box, enter a Radius of 2, Threshold of 95 levels. This is a guideline. Play with the settings a bit, see what happens to the photo. Different texture depth will need to be treated differently. However, your ultimate settings will probably be somewhere around these settings. Click OK.



I personally think the result of the surface blur is a bit too soft. Again, this is subjective. I put a little detail back with the High Pass Filter. The trick here is to go easy, not all Harry Potter on the thing. Subtle is good. Go to Filter > Other > High Pass…. I found a radius of 8.5 pixels to be just about right. Again, play. Experiment. Click OK.



Change the Layer Blend Mode to Soft Light.



Almost done! All that’s left now is a little light clean up! Take the blur tool and size it to about 10, opacity at around 75%. Now go over any little rough edges. The High Pass filter will leave some edges looking like little icicles. Just smooth them out!



Now proceed with the standard restoration practices, and you’re good to go!


About Janine Smith (114 Articles)
Janine Smith is the owner of Landailyn Research and Restoration, a Fort Worth, Texas based company whose services include family history research and photo restoration. Janine honed her skills in restoring badly damaged photos as a volunteer with Operation Photo Rescue, a non-profit organization whose mission is to repair photographs damaged by unforeseen circumstances such as house fires and natural disasters. <br> Janine’s work is well-known in the world of genealogical and historical societies, museums, libraries, university archives, and non-profit organizations; appearing on the board of directors for several organizations and institutions. She is a sought-after lecturer on photo restoration and preservation to libraries, genealogical and historical societies. <br> In addition to being a Lynda.com author, Janine is the author of many articles on research and restoration appearing in newspapers and magazines, both on and offline. Janine's history and photo restoration columns appear regularly on TipSquirrel.com and in the popular Shades Of The Departed Digital Magazine. <br> Janine is the winner of the 2010 “Photoshop User Award” in the photo-restoration category.

5 Comments on Smoothing Texture in Photoshop

  1. Christine Pentecost // 12/10/2012 at 3:27 pm //

    Awesome! Thanks Janine!

  2. Thank’s Chris! I’m glad you got something out of it!

  3. Natalie // 24/01/2013 at 2:17 am //

    Hi Janine

    I saw your course on Lynda.com and I’m curious to learn..
    are you open to paid guest blogging opportunities
    on popular technology publications?

    Let me know,


  4. exposedart // 16/11/2013 at 12:09 am //

    Thanks for posting this. I needed to take out a lot of texture on a piece of artwork that I wanted to add a Poster Edge filter. With all that texture the Poster Edges were just way over done. Thanks so much, this was perfect! All the best, Heather

  5. Thanks for posting this instructional tip. It worked well for a project I’m working on.

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