1. Summary

I have some third-party poor-scanned grayscale images with highlight areas.

Is it any chance to turn these images into normal?

2. Data

Example image with highlighted area — KiraDebugging.tif:


3. Limits

  1. I haven't paper copy for these scanned images. Otherwise, I would simply make other scans of these images.
  2. Any free Windows software welcome. Not Photoshop or Adobe Acrobat.

4. Expected behavior

Image without highlighted areas:


I removed gray background, use ImageJColor Balance” feature.

KiraExpected Convert

Is it possible get similar behavior?

5. Not helped

5.1. Burn

I read about “Dodge/Burn” GIMP feature. I tried use it with “Fuzzy selection”.


I couldn't configure good color balance:

Burn color balance

5.2. Fill

I tried GIMP “Bucket Fill” feature.


Also, not a good color balance:

Fill color balance

  • 1
    Part of the problem is that the edge of your scan is blurred, presumably because it isn't lying flat against the glass. There's really no software that can fix that. Rather than scan these, it might actually be better to photograph them with a good camera - then at least you would be able to control the lighting, and the blurring shouldn't be a problem either.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 20:20
  • @BillyKerr True, but OP says that the original paper copy isn't available, just the images he/she is trying to correct. Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 19:33
  • Scan better. All these images are a result of a poor scan that could easily be corrected on the scanner glass with 1/10th the effort of any post processing.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 10:34
  • @Scott , see 3.1 item of my question. It not my scans (I downloaded the book from Internet) and I haven’t the paper book to re-scan these pages. Thanks. Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 10:41
  • Buy the book perhaps? If it's available, certainly any cost would be well below the time necessary to fix multiple poor scans.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 10:47

2 Answers 2


Maybe worth to try this approach:

1) Duplicate the image layer, invert colors on duplicate enter image description here

2) Use the blend mode "Divide" (in my dropdown there are two of it, i mean the last one) This way, the fog should go away enter image description here

3) This is the hardest part: select the dark regions and play with levels several times until you obtain the best results enter image description here


Fixing the parts with photos will require manual work like in @MattiaGalati's answer, but the parts with text are easy to fix with just a few filters.

  1. Duplicate layer — "paper" layer
  2. Invert colors — to later subtract it from the source
  3. Median (2 pixels) — to remove small noise
  4. Minimum (10 pixels) — to remove text
  5. Gaussian Blue (20 pixels) — to clean up circles
  6. Liner Dodge (Add) blending mode — to subtract the paper from the source
  7. Levels (140 to 240) — to remove noise and increase contrast


Some shading is left, but it's easy to clean up. Photos suffered a bit (shaded parts are now white). You can use a simple Levels fix for just photos on the source and put them on this image.

So a quick and dirty result with minimal manual cleanup would look like this:

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.