View Full Version : X-ray specs... tutorial

03 March 2003, 01:14 AM
A little while ago I posted an image of an x-ray piston I made, like this one:

more images here:

more x-ray piston images (

So how would you yourself go about making something with this texture and effect? it isn't so bad lets see here...

btw I am using LW v6.5

1. It is very important to model as clean as you can, stick to quads and smooth curves. Try to stay way from boolean operations and ultra smoothing your mesh, here is the rod for my piston:

It will help to break up the model with surface names based on metal density (we will discuss that later), bearings I guess would be very dense and let little x-rays through, but I am getting ahead of myself.

2. Rig up the model any way you want it to move, I used expressions to control mine. Since this isn't about making a piston but the x-ray material I will leave this up to you.

3. The fun stuff:

First you have to decide what style you want, I wanted an x-ray/mechanical drawing, so I turned on the outlins like this in the object properties panel:

This will give you nice white outlines, that are dependent on a few things in the surfaces panel. One of the primary ones is the smoothing threshold, this will be used to get creases to show up where you want them, just mess with it to get the results you want. I found 45 degrees was good for most things but sometimes smoother parts needed to be around 60 degrees, it depends on the part.
You will notice that the texture relies solely on the luminosity and bump channels. The bump channel gives that pitted look to the metal, I wanted something rough so I used this:
You will have to mess with this to give a proper scale to your model.

For the liuminosity the surface is ruled by an incidance gradient:

This sets up the general look of the x-ray material.
To get the see-through effect we must turn on the additive transparency check in the advanced tab on the surfaces panel, the amount it is additive will be determined by density.

4. Density and finishing touches

You are almost done, but this one surface alone won't be that interesting. I found it necessary to break up the pieces a little bit to give them more of an individuality. Here are a few ways to do this:

a. Vary the surface color, very small changes in this value can have a nice effect on the final image.

b. mess with the additive transparency. Less of a transparency will result in that object becomeing less transparent. The piston rod won't be nearly as dense as the bearings so I have additive transparency values of:

rod = 65%
bearings = 35 %

this gives the denser objects the impression that it is more dificult for the x-rays to penetrate that metal.

Problems with this method: The surface likes dark backgrounds! It is an additive affect so sometimes you can get completely white areas if you aren't careful. Also it can take a while to render.

That's about it for this little tut, let me know if there are any questions or things you would like to add.

03 March 2003, 01:27 AM
OH MY LORD!! I sooooo wanted you to show me how you did that! Thanks so much for explaining it! I take it you got my PM? hehe. I haven't ready most of the post yet but i got so exited i had to reply hehe! Thanks Uncon! :bowdown:

03 March 2003, 01:44 AM
Dude thanks for making this tut. The out come are unbelieveable. Thanxs again.:thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 01:50 AM
Yup yup did some tests with your settings and looks fantastic!!

This will help a lot!

03 March 2003, 01:55 AM
Hey uncon, Great tutorial :bounce:

Thanks for sharing :thumbsup:

03 March 2003, 02:18 AM
i was just trying to get this same effect the other day, this looks good.

When proton sees this he is gonna ask for a full tutorial to go on newtek site, i know he is gonna be amazed.

03 March 2003, 02:43 AM
Thats killer!
Great tut too.


03 March 2003, 04:40 AM
This x-ray effect looks great.
THX for it :thumbsup:
Why don`t posting it in the sticky thread 'New weekly tut and tool thread' ?

03 March 2003, 05:04 AM
Great tutorial, thanks for taking the time.:thumbsup:

paul k.
03 March 2003, 09:50 AM
Nice Tutorial...........! Especially the smoothing threshold to control the outlines. Thanks!

03 March 2003, 10:32 AM
zer cool...

03 March 2003, 06:17 PM
The technique posted is equally good at making clouds and was how I used to do it before the likes of skytracer and Eki's plug pack.

Although gradients were images back then:)


03 March 2003, 06:20 PM
BTW fantastic images uncon.


03 March 2003, 09:12 PM
thanks for all the positive feedback!

4dartist: up got that PM and thought it wouldn't take long to put something up, I take it I made a good choice.

Miyazaki : I'll go ahead and try put it on the sticky thing but maybe tomorrow.

I forgot to mention one other thing, if you add some bloom as an image filter it can add a nice glow to the bright white spots.

I would love to see some renders of anything you've made with this technique, post it if you get something cool.


03 March 2003, 09:17 PM
for those of you who want to see exacctly what I have check these out:

bearings surface (really dense metal) (

crank metal ( metal.srf)

piston head surface (not-so dense) ( head.srf)

03 March 2003, 02:00 AM
nice tute, thx a bunch

03 March 2003, 02:26 AM
Wow, this will come in handy.

03 March 2003, 07:11 PM
Thanks for share, you rocks!!!!:thumbsup:

07 July 2003, 04:03 AM
Originally posted by uncon
... I would love to see some renders of anything you've made with this technique, post it if you get something cool.


Here's some jetbike guts from a project done for fun... Thanks for the tut Aaron.
design by Dave Childs and myself, model by Dave Childs, render by me :)

07 July 2003, 07:46 PM
Looks Great AJE!
:thumbsup: I like it a lot!

07 July 2003, 11:16 PM
rock on AJE, The red and green highlights are very cool. I like it.

07 July 2003, 11:35 PM
It's all you buddy, thanks for the tut...

I may have a chance to play with these textures some more later on... I've got a robot critter I wanna see like this...


11 November 2003, 02:58 PM
Really clean design and really nice textures...

03 March 2005, 03:49 PM
Hey uncon could u tell me were you got all your dimendions for the piston, conrod and crankshaft you used. They seem very accurate and i wanted to model a whole engine but can't seem to find accurate drawings with sizes.

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