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How To Digitally Preserve Your Art Pieces



The people of Charleston love art. We love seeing it, making it, and even buying and selling it! Unfortunately, art eventually fades over time, losing much of its original glory.

Because of this, a huge part of being an artist or art collector in our modern times is understanding how to preserve and restore your image so it lasts a lifetime. The process is relatively simple yet quite time-consuming, but the hassle is worth it in our opinion.

If your artwork happens to be particularly damaged you can give it to a photo restoration company to try and revive it to mint condition. However, if you want to DIY, then read on! In this step-by-step guide, we’re going to be showing you how to digitally preserve your art pieces for safe-keeping.

Step 1: Assess The Damage

Just like every great artwork ever made, you have to start your digital preservation with a plan. The best way to do that is to assess the damage.

Lay your piece on a flat surface and inspect it in a well-lit room. Ask yourself:

  • Is it ripped or creased?
  • Does it have coffee or smoke stains stretching over the surface?
  • Have the colors faded or changed?

The answers to these questions will adjust your expectations and strategies over the next few steps. At this point, though, just take note of all the imperfections and adjustments you need to make and you’re good to go!

Step 2: Scan Or Take A Photo Of Your Artwork

In the olden days before high-tech camera phones, all restoration and conservation efforts started with a dedicated flatbed scanner. However, people don’t always have access to such specialized equipment.

Taking photos on your phone is just as effective when restoring artwork at home! The only thing we recommend to make your job easier is to make sure that the piece is properly and evenly lit.

Step 3: Use A Photo Editing Software Or Digital Painting Program

Once you have a clear image of your art piece, load it into a photo editing or digital painting program like Adobe Photoshop. Free programs should also suffice! Make sure to save a separate copy of your image in case you want to revert to the original scan or make a mistake.

Step 4: Tweak And Adjust Colors

Remember the list of adjustments you made earlier? Now is the perfect time to whip it out and refer to it as you go along.

Photo editing programs typically have a wealth of color adjustment options, and you may have to mess around with the sliders until your art piece resembles its original condition. This is especially useful for antique artworks that have spent too much time in the sun or have dirty varnishes.

Art pieces that have yellowed over time (due to exposure to smoke or household cleaning products) may have to be tone-adjusted to obtain a more neutral result. (Hint: shift the color temperature toward blue!)

Step 5: Repair Damaged Or Stained Areas

Color is only one of the things you have to contend with when preserving art pieces. Rips, stains, and bleached spots are a big problem for many artists and art connoisseurs. But fret not because safeguarding your artwork against time is easier than ever. Here are three concrete ways of doing that:

Cropping Out Edges

If the image you’re trying to preserve is ripped around the edges, we recommend simply cropping it out. As long as you don’t lose too much detail from the crop, this can cut down the amount of work you need to do overall!

Using A Healing Brush

If you’re using Adobe Photoshop or any other software with a “healing brush” tool, then you can get your computer to do the work for you.

A healing brush applies color and texture based on the context of the damage. Your computer will automatically apply a color based on the visual information surrounding the damaged area, but the result will probably be less-than-perfect.

Painting By Hand

If you don’t feel like trusting your computer with your preservation project, you can paint by hand. This can be done with a mouse or a drawing tablet, but it really comes down to your specific skill level with either tool.

This method can be time-consuming, but it can also yield better results than just using a healing brush. We recommend starting with a healing brush for general corrections, then touching up the imperfections by hand.

Step 6: Send Your Work To A Printer Or Do It Yourself

If you want to hang your fully-preserved art piece up for all to see, you’ll want it professionally printed. Home printers usually aren’t built for high-quality art prints and can sometimes leave unsightly ink lines where you don’t want them. Contact a local Charleston business to find out about your printing options!


DIY art restoration is an excellent and cost-efficient choice for folks that want to digitize old art pieces. All you need is a scanner, a photo editing program, and the creative drive to restore something to its former glory! Exceptionally damaged pieces may require professional help, but most amateurs should be able to get a workable result with enough time and effort.

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