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How to Make a Fake Xray Film

Updated April 17, 2017

If you'd like to make a bogus X-ray film -- as a gag, for a prop, or as part of a costume -- your challenge is to create a black-and-white image on plastic film. But you can't simply use transparent plastic film, because the white areas on your X-ray will look clear, not milky white. The answer is to use a little-known product called translucent film, or backlight film. This is a white, inkjet-compatible stock that transmits light, so your bones will look the way they do on an X-ray. It's not going to fool a medical professional, but your fake X-ray should have your friends looking twice.

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  1. Set up an 11 inches by 17 inches image in your graphics software, and import an X-ray image as the background.

  2. Modify the image in startling ways. For instance, you can "replace" the heart with an alarm clock by downloading a picture of an alarm clock, converting it to a grayscale image, then converting the image into a negative. Both conversions are usually found in the Colors menu. Cut and paste this negative image into the X-ray image as a transparent selection.

  3. Select "Print" from the File menu, then click the "Properties" button next to the name of your inkjet printer. In the Media Type options, select either "Ink Jet Transparencies" or "Back Light Film." Also set the paper size to 11 by 17. Click the "OK" button to go back to the Print dialogue box.

  4. Insert a sheet of translucent stock in the printer and click the "Print" button. You may need to put a little pressure on the stock to help the sheet feeder grab it.

  5. Tip

    You can also draw things freehand into your X-ray. Use the dropper tool to select a bone colour to draw with; this will look more realistic than simply using white. If your printer won't handle 11 by 17 stock, you can use 8 1/2 by 11; most people associate X-rays with oversized film stock, however. If you can't get your graphics program to accept black as the transparent colour for pasting, define a clipping path (using the lasso tool) around the object you want to insert instead.


    This fake X-ray is for entertainment purposes only. Actual X-rays are carefully coded; medical and health care professionals won't be taken in by your counterfeit. Printing an X-ray image will result in a heavy layer of black or blue-black toner on the surface of the film, which will take longer than usual to dry. Do not touch the film for at least 20 minutes after it comes out of the printer.

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Things You'll Need

  • Inkjet printer capable of printing 11-inch by 17-inch stock
  • Translucent semi matt injket film, 11 inches by 17 inches

About the Author

Scott Knickelbine

Scott Knickelbine began writing professionally in 1977. He is the author of 34 books and his work has appeared in hundreds of publications, including "The New York Times," "The Milwaukee Sentinel," "Architecture" and "Video Times." He has written in the fields of education, health, electronics, architecture and construction. Knickelbine received a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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