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.
Launch Adobe Photoshop from the Start menu or desktop/quick launch shortcut. After around 10-20 seconds, the main application window is displayed.
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.
Duplicate the current layer by pressing CTRL and J, or clicking Layer then Duplicate Layer on the toolbar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.