People are Using Photoshop’s Generative Fill to Restore Old Photos

Photo restoration with Generative Fill
An old photo restored by Generative Fill.

Adobe Photoshop’s AI tool Generative Fill has been out for a couple of months now and people are still finding new uses for it — such as restoring old photos.

A few years ago, in the pre-AI era, restoring an old photo could be a painstaking process involving repeated uses of the clone and stamp tool, spot removal tool, and use of textures.

As generative AI technology has gathered pace, tools promising to fix old photos instantly and Photoshop’s neural filters have made photo restoration easier.

While Generative Fill wasn’t specifically designed to fix old photos, clever creatives have shown that the tool can be used for that exact task. Howard Pinsky is a Design Evangelist at Adobe and he posted the below example.

First, Pinsky grabbed the lasso tool to select all the areas of the photo that are damaged. As is now standard in Photoshop, the Generative Fill bar appears at the bottom of the image. Once the button is clicked (without a prompt) the damaged photo is fixed in a matter of seconds.

Pinsky explains that he leaves the prompt box blank because it triggers “remove” on the selected areas.

In another example, Photofocus show how Generative Fill can be used to fix poorly composed photos by using it to outpaint.

In the example photo, a woman’s head has been cropped through but Generative Fill deftly generates a few plausible hairstyles for the woman making it look seamless. Once that more tricky part is done then it can easily generate more sky to give the photo a better overall crop.

PetaPixel Test

To try it out, PetaPixel ran an old photo taken in the 1990s that has severe damage to it — possibly the result of a print being ripped out of a photo album.

AI photo restoration
Original photo.
AI photo restoration
Lasso select.
AI photo restoration

The photo features an intricate open-wheel race car in the background where some of the photo is damaged. This makes it tough for the AI and while it didn’t regenerate the photo perfectly, it certainly improved upon the original and was very easy to do.