One of our favourite Photoshop tricks is the way that the characteristic negative tones and cyan hues of X-rays can be easily applied to regular images.
OK, so we’re not really looking inside our subject, but the overall effect works a treat when creating a Photoshop X-Ray.
We used a shot of the underbelly of a plastic toy frog shot with a ring flash on a white background, but other regular objects can be transformed with this technique, too. So let’s see how it’s done. You have two options here: you can watch the short video below showing you how to get the Photoshop X-Ray effect, or below that we have a step-by-step Photoshop tutorial spelling out everything you need to do.
Photoshop Tutorial: How to create a Photoshop X-Ray Effect
Photoshop X-Ray: Step 1
Invert the tones
Download the start image.
and duplicate the background layer using Cmd/Ctrl+J then invert the tones to make a negative effect: Image>Adjustments>Invert or alternatively press Cmd/Ctrl+I.
Photoshop X-Ray: Step 2
Make it mono
Add a Black and White Adjustment Layer using the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Select the modifier slider. Firstly, move the cursor over the frog’s body and then to the right to make it lighter or move the Blue slider to the right.
Photoshop X-Ray: Step 3
Add a cyan hue
To add a coloured tint, add a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer. Select a cyan filter and move the Density slider to about 75%. Make sure that Preserve Luminosity is left unchecked.
Photoshop X-Ray: Step 4
Add a glow
To get a soft X-ray-like glow, press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to merge the visible layers into a new layer at the top of the layer stack. Add a Gaussian blur set to about 50 pixels and change the Blend Mode to Soft Light.
Photoshop X-Ray: Step 5
Tweak the tones
To boost the contrast of the image a little, you need to create a Curves Adjustment Layer and add a gentle S-curve to darken the shadows and lighten the highlights.
Photoshop X-Ray: Step 6
Dodge and burn
Create a new layer and fill it with 50% grey and change the Blend Mode to Overlay. Now select the Dodge and Burn tools from the Tools panel and darken and lighten specific parts of the image to create a sense of depth.