Software

How do I remove dark marks from digital photos?

remove dark marks from digital photos
Get rid of those unsightly dust marks

Dark marks or dust spots can ruin a perfectly good digital photo. And don’t think this is a problem that only afflicts amateurs – even the pros get it wrong sometimes. For example, I was looking at the press shots for the (ironically named) Amazon Echo Spot when I thought I saw dust spots on the images. It’s so unusual for professional photos to show such blemishes I actually wiped my screen, but no, they’re marks on the original photos.

Amazon Echo SpotEcho Spot dust marks

 

The reason it’s unusual to see such marks on professional photos is because they’re so easy to clean. Pro-grade photo software such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom have dedicated spot-removal tools for that specific job. You just swipe over the mark and the software automatically removes the blemishes.

However, even free software is capable of this menial task – although it requires a little more manual work. Here’s how to clean up your images.

How to remove dark marks from digital photos

For this job, we’re going to use the brilliant Paint.Net – a powerful yet amazingly lightweight piece of PC photo-editing software. The download is only 6.9MB, which is smaller than most of the photos you’ll edit using this package!

Once you’ve got it installed, open the photo from which you need to remove the blemishes and hone in on the affected area using the zoom tool (press Z on the keyboard or click the magnifying glass icon in the toolbar).

Now select the clone stamp tool (the rubber stamp icon or L on the keyboard) and change the brush width at the top until it’s just big enough to fit around the spot you wish to remove.

Find a part of the image that’s identical in colour to the area behind the spot you wish to remove. In the example above, the lower spot is sitting on a cloud, so we want to place our cursor over another area of cloud. The idea is to clone – or copy – that bit of cloud over the spot we wish to remove. When you’ve got your cursor over the area you wish to clone, hold down the Ctrl key and press the left mouse button. A little flashing circle should appear over the area you’ve just cloned, as below.

Paint.Net - cloned area

 

Now release the Ctrl key and drag your cursor over the spot you wish to remove, whilst holding down the left mouse button. The software should paint the cloned area of white cloud over your ugly dust spot. If you make a mistake or it doesn’t look right, press Ctrl + Z to undo the cloning and try again.

Repeat the process for any other spots on the image, and you should end up with a nice unblemished image that you’d be happy to send to fault-picking journalists such as me.

Paint.Net cleaned image

Now click here: how do I digitise old photos?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day.

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