A client that I had done portraits for two years ago came to me with a beat up photographic print of his wife's parents that they wanted restored. It was the only print of this photograph that the family had, and it was a treasured heirloom. They were from South America, and although the print only was estimated at 50 years old, it was hand-colored, textured, black and white print. They wanted the retouched print to be as close to the original as possible.
The print had various amounts of surface damage, but had no major tears or missing pieces, which significantly increases the level of difficulty during restoration. But because the print measured at least 11x14 inches, it was also too big to be scanned all in one piece, so that notched the level of difficulty right back up there.
I had to scan each half of the print separately, then combine the two halves together, making sure to match the colors, and then blend in the seam down the center of the images. Because the faces of the couple were the most important part of this image, I chose to work on those areas first. Using both the patch tool and the clone tool in Photoshop allowed me to bring back the details in the faces. The patch tool proved to be invaluable, as I had to retain the texture that was inherent in the print.
Once the faces and bodies were completed, I chose to strip the subjects out of the damaged background, create a new background, and then drop them on the newly created background. I determined this to be a faster and more efficient method, as trying to patch and clone the background would have taken too long, and never would have produced as clean a result as simply creating a new matching background.
The finished print far exceeded the client's expectations. So much so, that they ordered extra copies of the print for the remainder of the family. Now they all have copies of this family heirloom, which hopefully will last 75-100 years, with today's paper and printing technology.