I have a photo I am trying to restore and it's badly faded, but also has splotchy stains on it, like it got wet in streaks while up against the glass of a frame. The faded part I can handle (more or less), but the splotchy stains, yuck. When I restore color to the image the stains turn purple (kind of cool... but not really wanted), and it's distorting critical areas of the picture.

I've attached a sample of the problem, an area of the photo I'm working on.

enter image description here

Is there some way to tame the purple?

I am using GIMP, and I can duff around in it pretty well but I'm not expert with it.


  • 4
    It would be more useful to post the original photo...
    – xenoid
    Commented May 20, 2023 at 0:55
  • Um, yeah... that is the high-res scan. And THANK YOU for the explanation of how to proceed! Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 17:43

3 Answers 3


Not that my answer solves all your programs for this specific project, but a secret ingredient to much of your problem solving is using layer masks for each layer (and duplicated layers), to then paint away or paint into, the areas you desire. You will be that many more steps ahead in your restoration process while color casting the correct parts of your photo.

For each layer that may focus on a particular part of your photo...

  • Color correct that portion. Then...
  • If you use a white layer mask on that layer, paint with black.
  • If you use a black layer mask on that layer, paint with white.

Make a mask of the purple smudge, then fill in purple and set the blend mode to divide.

enter image description here

Then clean up the edges around the stains.

enter image description here

You might want to also look at better ways for scanning / photographing this picture.


Just make a high res TIF scan of it in colour. Use the convert to black and white sliders to remove the offending stains and then recolour the whole image.

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.