How to X-Ray a Photo

Updated March 23, 2017

A photograph with an X-ray effect resembles the X-rays a radiologist makes in a doctor's office. However, giving a photograph the X-ray effect simply requires a photo-editing program and a special filter with the ability to turn an existing photograph into one that looks like an X-ray. Some cameras take photographs with an X-ray filter so that no editing is needed. However, with the right software, you can give any photograph, old or new, the appearance of an X-ray.

Transfer pictures from your camera to your computer via USB cable or a card reader if you haven't done so already.

Open up a photo-editing program like Photoshop or any other photo-editing program that can make photos look like X-rays. In Photoshop, there is a filter that turns either the entire photo or a selection of the photo into what resembles an X-ray.

Use a lasso tool or wand to select parts of the photo that you want to apply the X-ray effect to. If you want to turn the entire photo into one with an X-ray effect, select the entire image. When the image or image parts are selected, there will be blinking dashes around the perimeter of the selection.

Saturate the photograph so that it is black and white. In Photoshop, select Image> Adjustments> Desaturate.

Select either the X-ray filter or a similar filter. Photoshop for example, does not have a direct X-ray filter. To achieve a photo with an X-ray effect, use the Glowing Edges filter. In Photoshop, select Filter> Stylize> Glowing Edges in the main menu.

Adjust the effect of the glowing edges using the adjustment levels that appear on the right side when the filter is applied to your photograph. Set the smoothness level between 2 and 3 to have a more detailed X-ray lookalike photograph. Save your work.

Make any adjustments to your photo if it still doesn't look right. Adjust the levels and colours, or even give it a blue-green or grey tint. It might not look perfect, but your photograph should now have an X-ray effect and resemble a real X-ray.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital photographs
  • Computer
  • Photo-editing software
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About the Author

Aleksandra Ozimek has been writing professionally since 2007 for a fashion blog, various online media and the "Queens Courier," in addition to interning at "Cosmopolitan" magazine. She completed her Bachelor of Science in journalism and photography from St. John's University, where she is completing her master's degree.