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Exceptional new plugin to restore faded transparencies/photos

By at 2009-02-28 03:47:31 UTC, last updated almost 13 years ago. CC BY-NC License

Those of you following the ongoing discussions in our forums (connected to the official GIMP mailing lists) might have seen this already: There is an exceptional new plugin available to restore old/faded transparencies/photos!

Our user geoff has written an awesome new python plugin that makes it possible to enhance matt/faded transparencies or photos by reversing the aging process.

Some background: The plugin is based on an algorithm that recalculates the aging effect of color pigments based on physical considerations. It is possible for example to gain a nice new red color from a faded red color tone in a photo without having to do massive color/lighting corrections. It is a one-click-easy-and-simple-to-use plugin.

Installation instructions:
1. Find the script here: – download the file
2. copy it to the plugin directory of GIMP (Linux: /home//.gimp-2.6/plug-ins/)
3. make the script executable (in the plugins dir on a shell write “chmod a+x”.
4. launch GIMP 2.6, and you should find a new main menu entry named “Restore”.
5. open up a scan/photo and apply the plugin.

Here you’ll find some Before/After images, as well as a really detailed pdf for the algorithm and a readme.txt:

Of course you can follow the original discussion in the forum!

Have fun with this amazing plugin!

PS: We’ve not tested this on the Windows platform yet.


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about 8 years ago

Wow, improves old photos exceptionally. And the author is so modest that at the end of the process the plug-in states "... the restoration is probably poor". More self-confidence, man!

about 8 years ago

I have uploaded the latest version of the plugin, which fixes minor bugs. It has been tested in linux but not in windows. The work on the improved version is not yet finished but I still intend to complete it.

There are scanners designed specially for slides on the market and some document scanners have attachments that allow one to scan slides. You need to make sure these provide enough resolution.

The email address on my webpage still works if users want to contact me.

about 8 years ago

I am new to this, so please bear with me: I have lots of transparencies that have faded. Is this plugin still valid? AND, how do I get the slides into the computer in order to restore them?

over 9 years ago

Many thanks to the person who developed this beautiful plugin

Lyle member for almost 11 years Lyle 91 comments
about 10 years ago

Have GIMP 2.8.4 64-bit for Windows and, though I didn't have an appropriate image to test with, it works fine. :)

geoff member for about 14 years geoff 4 comments
about 10 years ago

As this is the first comment for two years on my plug-in I will provide an update.

I believe the installation instructions in these comments are still correct; the plug-in, which can be downloaded from still works in Gimp2.8 under Linux. I have not tried installing on Windows versions later then XP.

I am currently working on an improved plug-in using new ways of estimating what has happened to the transparency with age, and of improving the final colour balance. The present new version produces slightly better results than the old but this work is still ongoing. I will release the new plug-in when I am satisfied with its performance.

about 10 years ago

I am new to gimp and am trying it more as a hobby and am not much computer savvy in such matters!

Please tell me how to load the software mentioned above in my GIMP. I have the latest version.

I am trying to restore some old photos and hence this request.

almost 13 years ago

Wonderful! Thanks to this, I have a whole family history of pictures that look sooo much better!

devvv member for over 16 years devvv 1475 comments
almost 13 years ago

thanks alot for posting these instructions geoff!

geoff member for about 14 years geoff 4 comments
almost 13 years ago

Several people have had problems getting my plug-in to work on a Mac, so here are some detailed instructions.


Download the plugin-in from

In the directory containing the downloaded file change the permissions to
make it executable as follows:

Check the permissions by typing ls -l in a terminal window
The beginning of the line including should read -rwxrwxrwx but
the x's will probably be missing.
Type chmod 0777
Check that the permissions have been changed by typing ls -l again

For those not familiar with using unix commands like ls or chmod on a Mac you
can open a terminal window and type: man ls or man chmod to get the manual on
these or other commands.

Copy the file to the directory where Gimp stores its plug-ins.
This seems to depend on how Gimp was installed. On the system I have looked
at it is:

/Users/Your_User_Name/Library/Applications Support/Gimp/plug-ins

Note this directory may be hidden and you need to use a terminal window and the
ls and cd commands to see it and use the cp command to copy the file.

Python is normally already installed, check by typing python in a terminal
window. You need python 2.6.1 (or probably other python 2.x); python 3 is not

The plug-in can easily be made to work on a Mac, the only difficulties are
making the file executable and finding out where to put it.

Ian rated this topic with 5/5
almost 13 years ago

This is brilliant! I agree with Peter P that the results are somewhat saturated, but they sure look better than the yellowed originals! I will try it with Geoff's suggestion (Comment #9) and suspect that will improve things.

@ Waina Miranda - if you go to the pages mentioned for those three files and download the last .exe file in each case (not the .exe.asc file) and then just run it to install it, you should have success.

@ Mark Rabideau - if you follow t devvv's instructions I don't think you need the plugin?? Geoff might like to comment on this...

almost 13 years ago

I'm so frustrated! I'm running Gimp 2.6.8 for Mac OS X and have placed the in the /temp/skl/ folder and... nothing. No menu change, no filter. What am I doing wrong or step am I missing? I'm dying to give this plug-in some good hard use but haven't found anyone or anyplace that is willing to help me figure this out.

geoff member for about 14 years geoff 4 comments
almost 13 years ago

Since non one else has replied I will comment on my recent experience using my own plug-in. I also find that I cannot usually do much better manually. I agree colours are sometimes too strong but this can usually be avoided by reducing the "degree of restoration" slider to 0.7 or 0.8 which takes a weighted average of the restored and original image. I find I can usually recognize a restored photo by the green sky and ginger-brown and purple-grey colours. The fact that these are recognizable is good because it means that the algorithm used could be improved. I will continue to think about the problem. The plug-in does badly if the original is wrongly exposed or has become very dark with age and obviously it cannot handle pictures that are intended to have one overall colour. Sunsets do not usually restore well! Please feel free to send me ( examples that you think might be useful in improving the program.

Peter P rated this topic with 5/5
almost 13 years ago

This is a wonderful improvement over trying to restore transparencies manually. I'm having an odd problem, though: the resulting images are very saturated and "edgy", as if the contrast was too high. This is with Gimp 2.6.8 on Windows. Anyone else experiencing this?

Mark Rabideau
about 13 years ago

For some reason I am unable to get the 2.7.1 of gimp. I have installed per the above instructions but for reason I do not see the restore option in GIMP any ideas???


Waina Miranda
almost 14 years ago

I would like to know how to install pygtk, pycairo and pygobject to run under windows. Where do I find this information?

devvv member for over 16 years devvv 1475 comments
about 14 years ago

hello geoff!

thanks for posting - our german community is posting more actively ->

they've been trying alot to get this working. here is a step by step-instruction for windows users:

uninstall GIMP first.

and install it. (don't use python 3)

then download:
and install these packages.

reinstall gimp - check "custom install" - then there will be a python-checkbox available. check it and install.

IMPORTANT: you need python 2.6.1 - python 3 is not compatible as it seems... may people got it to work using this procedure!

geoff member for about 14 years geoff 4 comments
about 14 years ago

Thanks for the encouraging comments. I have put out a new version of the plug-in with some bugs fixed. None of the bugs found affects restored images using the default settings. The main bug was that the "Degree of Restoration" slider did not always work as intended.

I have been asked how to make the plug-in work in windows. I do not use gimp with windows and although the messages above confirm that it can be made to work it does not appear to be very simple. I wonder if someone could take the trouble to post some careful step-by-step instructions to help users interested in the plug-in.

about 14 years ago

this is really cool! thanks a lot to the author of the plugin. i have a lot of kodak transparencies in my archive which are quite old. the plugin works very good and produces nice results.

under windows you need to install pygtk, pycairo and pygobject in order to run the script with GIMP.

about 14 years ago

The plugin seems to work with images from negatives too. But it seems to be aimed mainly on restoring transparencies.

about 14 years ago

Thank you.
It works fine under Windows too.