How to colorize an translucent picture in Photoshop?

I’ve got a scanned picture of a sticker album which contains an translucent room where the sticker should be sticked. I’ve tried (using the Equalize, Curves, Levels, Vibrance and Contrast Tools from Photoshop) to get the translucent room as close as possible to the real sticker, but I feel that I still can do something to improve it. Could someone give me, kindly, some hint about this situation?

Example of the problem mentioned in the question.

P.S.: In case of doubts, like the user Scott appointed me, I don’t have the image B. That which one that I used like example it was found on the internet. They are 100 stickers and I found some of them on a website, but I’d like to “create” the others ones throught the faded images that I have in the empty album (in this case, those images A).

Answer

I’m able to get a result that’s a tiny bit better than yours using mainly Camera Raw Filter.

Method for restoring original colors

This is the starting point (scaled down to 25% to be able to post it):

  • Start by turning your image into a Smart Object by right-clicking the background layer and choosing Convert to Smart Object. That way the filters are dynamic and can be fine-tuned later.

  • Use Filter > Camera Raw Filter with the following settings under the Basic tab to restore the colors:

    Under the Detail tab you can use the following settings to remove some of the halftone noise:

  • To remove more noise, use Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches.

  • Smoothen even more with Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

  • Finally, try to recreate some of the lost sharpness with Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask.

I think it’s a decent result, but probably only fit for viewing how the stickers looked. Not really suitable for reproduction.

To scale the image down can further camouflage some of the problems (and I can’t post the full size result here). Here is the result scaled down to 25% using Bicubic Smoother interpolation:

Why it isn’t possible to restore the original colors

It looks like the images have been faded to about 20% of their original opacity or less.

The pixels of the original images could potentially have RGB values ranging from 0 to 255. If they were faded to 12.5% they would be compressed into a range going from 223 to 255. So a lot of the data is lost. It can be compared to taking a 256 pixels tall image, scale it down to 32 pixel and then up to 256 pixels again:

The color information has become “pixelated”!

And then you have the additional challenge that you don’t even have access to the original pixels. You only have a scan of the printed halftoned images. This just adds to the problem. In a halftone screen the different tints are expressed by dots of different size. These very light images consist of very small dots with very subtle variations in size. Furthermore the scan also contains smudge and paper texture. Almost impossible to recreate the original tones from that.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : winiercape , Answer Author : Wolff

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