Album Cover Restoration
**  This section of created in August 2003  **


Several people have asked me about my album covers as seen on the discographies at and how I make them look as good as they do. The answer is - a lot of times it isn't easy, but the results obtained are sure worth the effort. Here are some examples:

Voices-before.JPG  Voices-after.JPG
["Voices" front cover]

The photo on the left is the BEFORE photo, received raw in email from a friend who took the shot with his digital camera (i.e., not a scan).
The photo on the right is the AFTER photo which is currently on the Rosengarden & Ogerman discographies at This image was pulled completely apart within Adobe Photoshop where the dark blue background color & aqua lettering were sampled for later use, then all elements of the cover (title/image, the words "STEREO" & the catalog number) were entirely removed from the image temporarily and placed within their own windows.
The "paint bucket" within Photoshop could then be used to cover the entire background with the sampled album dark blue background color. In this particular instance with the way in which the wear and age on the cover appeared, it was the only solution to completely remove those things and still retain the album's original color (as verified by the owner of the album).  Then, each removed element was worked on separately after enlarging each element up to 800 percent. The second sampled color (the aqua) was then used to touch up and restore pixel by pixel the words "STEREO" and the catalog number as well as the title "VOICES" and the Verve logo.  This was the most painstaking part of the process as both the aqua and the darker sampled color had to be used alternately to turn on and turn off the pixels so that these elements would show up more clearly on the cover.
Little was done to the photograph except adjust contrast and brightness. As work on each element was completed, the contents of that window were dragged back onto the main window and replaced into position on the cover. Then all layers were "merged down" to form one layer, the image was resized, and saved as a JPG file for use on the discographies.


["Voices" back cover]

 If I thought that I had a challenge restoring the front cover of "Voices", it was almost nothing compared to what I had to do to restore the back cover of this gatefold LP. What made it the most difficult was all the lettering of the track titles to work around. At first I made a separate window out of each track title in order to perform the corrections, but this eventually proved too tedious and way too time consuming. What I wound up doing was to scan in this black and white photocopy which I was sent in the mail and crop just the block of track titles - this time all of them at once. Then, with a combination of using Invert image, Brightness and Contrast adjustments, and Replace Color option in Photoshop - to replace the gray with white (while inverted) - then painting out with different sized paintbrushes and airbrushes the myriad of artifacts and color blobs that ensued in working on this in a very close-up and magnified window (of over 300%), then finally reinverting the image so that it would be again white text on a dark blue background, I was able to achieve satisfactory results. The track text sharpness and brightness is not quite as nice as I would usually like, but is satisfactory considering the original I had to work with. Also, it was impossible for me to brighten the track titles any further due to the limitations of the image. I was also trying to minimize having more unwanted artifacts created that I would then only have to take the time to remove.

The other elements of the back cover (background album color, white frame, album title, & Verve logo) were copied from the front cover restoration work as they were of the same size for the back cover, except for the white frame itself. This I elongated in a separate window by manipulating the "height" size within Resize Image, while keeping the "width" the same measurement. Then I cut and pasted it into the back cover and began adding the other elements to go inside the white frame one at a time until the cover was all back together. I also removed the price tag on this particular image as it was unreadable, even when magnified.

Another example of removing elements individually from a photo to make corrections to the overall look:

Byrd-back-Before.JPG  Byrd-back-After.JPG
[Back cover of "More Brazilian Byrd"
Left:  before corrections made; Right:  after corrections made]

This album back cover from my Jobim discography was photographed by someone instead of being scanned.  When this is done, usually there is a lot of light concentration on the center and lots of shadow around the edges (from the flash being used).  Scanning wins over photographing in this case and always gives better results--especially with a white cover.  Using a camera instead of scanning also makes the edges "bow out" as can be seen with how crooked the lines become along the edges.  Along with the wear and tear present, I decided that the best way to make this look pristine was to remove all elements and start from scratch.  So I removed the entire center, the credits at the top left and the catalog number and label logo at the top right.  I created a new canvas of an all white background, redrew the lines with the line tool in Photoshop and carefully put back the individual elements once they were corrected with contrast/brightness and replace color adjustments in Photoshop.  The result is an almost pristine album cover.



This sample (LEFT photo) was not nearly as severely damaged as the "VOICES" cover, but some restoration work still had to be done. The album's yellow body color was sampled and then used to restore the album color at both top, right side, and bottom. In addition, the title "ANATEVKA" had color missing from parts of its letters from being faded with age and wear, and this was restored as well after its color was sampled. Due to the fact that this particular LP is a rare foreign import recording, I made the decision to leave the price tag on as part of its appeal, but it could have been easily removed.



This sample (LEFT photo) was an image taken with a camera. It was taken at a very low resolution/low lighting situation and as such, made the cover look even more discolored and darker than it normally would have been. Results on the RIGHT were obtained after manipulating the image numerous times with the Contrast/Brightness, Replace Color and Color Saturation options in Photoshop. The ring wear on the cover was successfully removed. Two of the lightest green waves of color were lost in trying to change the background color from grey to the original pure white. While I am always against losing any original elements of a cover whenever possible, I made a decision that those 2 waves were acceptable to sacrifice in order to try to bring back as much of the original color of the background as possible. And, those two waves of color are not present on the original album's issue. The background, which is supposed to be pure white (as seen on the original cover which was already on the Winding discography at had to be left at the off-white color because increasing the brightness or lightness of the background around the text in this particular instance led to the complete washout of all text underneath the words "Early Modern". In this example, using the "Sharpen" filter did not work for the smaller-sized text because that text was of very poor quality to begin with.

Another example of separating out the elements to remove all blemishes and imperfections:

SinatraJobimTape.jpg  SinatraJobimTape.jpg
[Above left:  before any touchup in Photoshop; above right:  after the below listed tools were used.]

Photoshop tools used:  replace color, adjust brightness and contrast, paint bucket, sharpen filter and element separation in two windows. 



The example on the LEFT is from a 45 rpm record whose labels I wanted to use on a discography but this side needed some restoration work to be done on it first to make it look as pristine as possible. The magic marker writing and the label (apparently cataloging the place the record had in this radio station's library!) needed to be removed. This was a fairly straightforward process achieved by first sampling the background color with the eye dropper in Photoshop and then "painting" that color over the magic marker and label area. Next the words "NOT FOR SALE" had to be copied from the other side of this record and placed over the area where the background color had been restored. This wording was originally present on this side of the label as well, but covered up by the number label sticker. As things go, this was one of the easier restorations to do.



This label took much more time and was more tedious to restore than the previous example. The label on the LEFT has a sticker covering much of the left-hand side of the label, has residue glue on the label, red crayon writing on the right-hand side and a number stamp on top of the artist's last name. The number sticker could not be removed of itself; instead, a cut & paste from the "A" side of this 45 rpm record had to be applied over the affected area. The residue glue was removed by first sampling the yellow color with the eyedropper tool in Photoshop, then airbrushing and painting out the glue mark. The red crayon mark and the number stamp were dealt with in the same way. Just a bit of contrast/brightness adjustment was applied after the touchup work was done. After resizing the image to 350 x 350 pixels, the last step applied was sharpening to achieve the desired results.

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