How to Restore Posters

by Daniel Ketchum

Old posters are among the many types of things that people love to collect. Some of these posters are old sports or movie posters, while others serve a more serious purpose, such as providing information or asking people to buy bonds. Unfortunately, over time these posters can become worn or damaged. Many people--and institutions like university archives--want to be able to display the posters as they originally appeared. To do this requires the use of a quality graphics program, a scanner and a printing service.

Since most home-based image scanners are small and posters are usually large, place the poster on a scanner bed and scan it in sections. For this to work you have to make sure that the poster maintains exactly the same orientation so that the scanned sections will line up. Be very careful while handling the poster, since you do not want to cause further damage to it.

Use the cropping tools in your scanner software to trim each scan to only that section you want, but leave enough that each image will overlap slightly the ones next to it. Save each section as a high resolution JPEG file.

Open your graphics program. Create a new document and make the size of the new document the same as the size of the overall poster.

Open each of your scanned in images and use the "Copy" and "Paste" function in the program to place each of them in the main document. Each of them will automatically be placed in its own layer.

Use the "Move" tool in the program to position the images carefully so they overlap. The best approach is to start with the edges and work your way in.

Merge all of your layers into a single layer. Then use the programs "Cloning" tool to remove any "seam" artifacts from the scanning process. You can also use this tool to repair any small damage in the poster. For larger damage you can select sections that are similar and either use the "Copy" and "Paste" technique or the "Patch" tool to fix them.

Use the color adjustment functions in the program (such as Hue and Saturation or Levels) to fix any color fading problems.

Save your work to a CD as a high resolution JPEG. Take it to a professional local printer and have it printed.

Items you will need

About the Author

Daniel Ketchum holds a Bachelor of Arts from East Carolina University where he also attended graduate school. Later, he taught history and humanities. Ketchum is experienced in 2D and 3D graphic programs, including Photoshop, Poser and Hexagon and primarily writes on these topics. He is a contributor to sites like Renderosity and Animotions.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera painting image by Dmitri MIkitenko from