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How to X-Ray in Photoshop

How to X-Ray in Photoshop

To produce an X-ray image, one requires dedicated, specialised equipment, some training, and a medical certificate. However, there is a way of achieving similar results, without any of these, and at the same time bypassing the need to subject your friends and family to deadly electro-magnetic radiation.

There is a known technique in Adobe Photoshop which produces very similar results to X-ray imaging equipment, without the complications associated with doing it for real. Even better, it only takes about a minute to finish – much faster than most health system waiting times.

If you’re a Photoshop owner, follow the steps below to get started. If you’re not a Photoshop owner, follow the link to the Adobe site to download the trial.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • 1

    Launch Adobe Photoshop from the Start menu or desktop/quick launch shortcut. After around 10-20 seconds, the main application window is displayed.

  • 2

    Click File and Open. In the Explorer window that appears, locate on your computer the photo file you wish to turn into an X-ray style image. Double-click to open the file in Adobe Photoshop.

  • 3

    Duplicate the current layer by pressing CTRL and J, or clicking Layer then Duplicate Layer on the toolbar.

  • 4

    Next, invert the colours on the current layer by pressing CTRL and I or by clicking Image then Adjustments and Invert Image. The photo now changes dramatically – light colours become dark, and dark colours become light.

  • 5

    Click Layer, then Add Layer Mask and Reveal All. This adds a new layer mask on top of the background layer.

    Note: if the Add Layer Mask is greyed out, then duplicate the background layer and then delete the original. You should now be able to add a Layer Mask.

  • 6

    Next, you need to add a layer with altered Hue/Saturation. Click Layer, then New Adjustment Layer and Hue/Saturation. Click OK. The Hue/Saturation controls are displayed.

  • 7

    Reduce the Saturation down to the lowest level by dragging the slider to the far left (the value of this is -100). This removes the blue-tint effect in the image.

  • 8

    Select the layer underneath the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer by clicking it. In the Layers window (the default location for this is the bottom right-hand corner), click the dropdown menu directly under Layers and choose Hard Light.

  • 9

    Right-click the current layer and select Duplicate Layer. Change the Opacity to about 75%. Duplicate the layer again, and this time set the opacity to 50%.
    You should now have created a fairly convincing X-ray style image.

Tips & Advice

  • Remember that this merely an effect, and only simulates the kind of lighting typical in images created by X-ray equipment. You won’t be able to see underneath a subjects clothes, or their internal organs using this technique.


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