DICOM files

  Discontinuation of 3D features in Photoshop

Photoshop’s 3D features will be removed in future updates. Users working with 3D are encouraged to explore Adobe’s new Substance 3D collection, which represents the next generation of 3D tools from Adobe. Additional details on the discontinuation of Photoshop’s 3D features can be found here: Photoshop 3D | Common questions on discontinued 3D features.


In Photoshop CS6, 3D functionality is part of Photoshop Extended. All features in Photoshop Extended are part of Photoshop. Photoshop does not have a separate Extended offering.

About DICOM files


DICOM (an acronym for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) is the most common standard for receiving medical scans. Photoshop allows you to open and work with DICOM (.dc3, .dcm, .dic, or no extension) files. DICOM files can contain multiple “slices” or frames, which represent different layers of a scan.

Photoshop reads all frames from a DICOM file and converts them to Photoshop layers. Photoshop can also place all DICOM frames in a grid on one layer, or open frames as a 3D volume which you can rotate in 3D space. Photoshop can read 8‑, 10‑, 12‑, or 16‑bit DICOM files. (Photoshop converts 10‑ and 12‑bit files to 16‑bit files.)

Once you’ve opened a DICOM file in Photoshop, you can use any Photoshop tool to adjust, mark up, or annotate the file. For example, use the Notes tool to add a comment to the file, the Pencil tool to mark a specific area of the scan or the Dust And Scratches filter to remove dust or scratches from a scan. Use the Ruler or selection tools to make measurements of image content.


Any measurement scale present in a DICOM file is automatically imported with the file. If no scale is present, the default scale of 1 pixel = 1 mm is added as a custom measurement scale. See Set the measurement scale.

You can save 8‑bit DICOM files in any file format Photoshop supports (16‑bit files must be saved as DICOM, Large Document Format, Photoshop, Photoshop PDF, Photoshop Raw, PNG, or TIFF files).


When you save a file as DICOM, any layer styles, adjustments, blend modes, or masks are discarded.

You can also view and edit metadata for DICOM files in Bridge or in the Photoshop File Info dialog box. DICOM files support external automation through scripting (see Scripting).

Open a DICOM file

Before you open a DICOM file, you can specify how DICOM frames are opened (as layers, in a grid, or as a 3D volume), and set options (in the DICOM File Import dialog box) that anonymize patient metadata and display overlays. During the import you can also perform pans, zooms, and window leveling.

The DICOM import dialog box also displays DICOM header information—textual information about the file, such as its dimensions, data resolution, and whether the data has been compressed.


You can import a sequence of multiple, single-frame DICOM files into a single multilayered Photoshop file, using the New Video Layer from File command. See Import image sequences.


  1. Choose File > Open, select a DICOM file, and click Open.
  2. Select the frames you want to open. Shift-click to select contiguous frames. To select noncontiguous frames, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS). Click Select All to select all frames.

    To quickly scroll through frames, use the mouse scroll wheel (Windows) or click the Right or Left Arrow buttons below the large preview area.

  3. Choose from the following options, and then click Open.

    Frame Import

    Import Frames As Layers places DICOM frames on layers. N‑Up Configuration displays multiple frames in a grid (enter values in the Rows and Columns boxes to specify height and width of grid). Import as volume opens the DICOM frames as a volume, where the z-distance is determined by DICOM settings and data is interpolated between the frames. You can view the volume from any angle, using a variety of rendering modes to highlight data.

    DICOM Dataset

    Anonymize overwrites patient metadata with “anonymize.” Show Overlays displays overlays such as annotations, curves, or text.


    Select Show Windowing Options to adjust the contrast (Window Width) and brightness (Window Level) of the frame. Alternatively, you can drag the Window Level tool up or down to adjust the level, or to the right or left to adjust the width. You can also choose common radiology presets from the Window Preset menu (Default, Lung, Bone, or Abdomen). Select Reverse Image to invert the brightness values of the frame.


    To zoom, choose a zoom level from the Select Zoom Level menu (or click the plus and minus signs to zoom in and out). To pan, click the Hand icon at the top of the dialog box and drag across the frame.  

Create a 3D volume from DICOM frames

  1. Choose File > Open, select a DICOM file, and click Open.
  2. Select the frames you want to convert to a 3D volume. Shift-click to select contiguous frames. To select noncontiguous frames, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS). Click Select All to select all frames.
  3. In Frame Import Options, select Import as volume, then click Open.

Photoshop creates a 3D volume of the DICOM frames and places it on a 3D layer in the Layers panel. You can use Photoshop’s 3D position tools to view the 3D volume from any angle, or change render settings to better visualize data.

  • The original DICOM file is preserved as a Diffuse texture layer associated with the 3D volume layer. For information on 3D textures, see 3D texture editing.

  • Double-click the texture layer to open the DICOM file as a Smart Object in its own document window. The DICOM frames appear as separate layers in the Layers panel.

  • Any changes you make to individual layers are applied to the 3D volume when you close and save the Smart Object.

To save the 3D volume, you can export the 3D layer or save the file in PSD format. See Saving and exporting 3D files.

View a 3D volume from different angles

  1. Select the 3D layer containing the DICOM volume in the Layers panel.
  2. Select either the 3D Position tool  or a 3D camera tool  in the Tools panel.
  3. Use the position or camera tools in the options bar to rotate, move, or scale the 3D volume. See 3D object and camera tools.


    If OpenGL support is enabled on your system, you can also use the 3D Axis to rotate, move, or scale the 3D volume. See 3D Axis.

View a 3D volume in different render modes

  1. Select the 3D layer containing the DICOM volume in the Layers panel.
  2. Choose Window > 3D to open the 3D panel.
  3. From the Preset menu in the lower section of the 3D panel, select a render mode.

    Render modes that use a transfer function use a Photoshop gradient to render values in the volume. The gradient color and opacity values are combined with the grayscale values in the volume to optimize or highlight different types of content. Transfer function render modes are only available for grayscale DICOM images.

    Enhanced Boundaries

    Lowers the opacity of homogeneous regions while retaining the opacity of the boundaries. It can also reduce noise in the volume.

    Full Range Color Scale

    Transfer function that uses a full “rainbow” Photoshop color gradient.

    High Range Highlights

    Transfer function that uses the color white for the entire value range, zero opacity for low range values, and high opacity for high range values.

    Low Range Highlights

    Transfer function that uses the color white for the entire value range, zero opacity for high range values, and high opacity for low range values.

    Maximum Intensity Projection

    Displays maximum values in the volume to provides a quick preview of volume structure. Does not provide any depth cues.

    Red-Blue Color Scale

    Transfer function that uses a full red-blue color gradient.

    Thin Isolines

    Transfer function that uses constant color, while opacity component is a function with multiple spikes, to display isovalues.


    Approximates X-ray radiation transport through an X-ray translucent medium. This effect is useful for generating an image from a CT scan that looks like an X-ray shot of the same object.

    White-Black Color Scale

    Transfer function using a white-black color component.

  4. (Optional) To create a custom render mode, click Render Settings in the 3D panel to open the 3D Render Settings dialog box. Select options in the Volume Styles section of the dialog.

Export DICOM frames as JPEG files

  1. Open a DICOM file and set options in the DICOM File Import dialog box (see Open a DICOM file).

  2. Select frames in the DICOM File Import dialog box: Shift-click to select contiguous frames, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) to select noncontiguous frames, or click Select All to select all frames.
  3. Enter a prefix in the Prefix box in the Export Options area.
  4. Click Export Presentation (JPEG), select a folder, and click Select.

    The JPEG files are saved in the specified location with the prefix added to the filenames. If you selected multiple frames, Photoshop appends successive numbering to the end of each filename (for example, DICOM Frame1, DICOM Frame2, DICOM Frame3).

DICOM metadata

You can view and edit several categories of DICOM metadata in the Photoshop File Info dialog box.

Patient data

Includes patient name, ID, sex, and date of birth.

Study data

Includes study ID, referring physician, study date and time, and study description.

Series data

Includes series number, modality, series date and time, and series description.

Equipment data

Includes the equipment institution and manufacturer.

Image data

Includes the transfer syntax, photometric interpretation, image width and height, bits per pixel, and frames. (These fields are not editable.)

Animate DICOM files

To animate DICOM slices or frames, select all DICOM layers and choose Make Frames From Layers from the Animation (Timeline) panel menu.

After creating frames in the (Animation) Timeline panel, you can save DICOM files as QuickTime movies (change grayscale DICOM files to RGB, and then render to video). You can also save frames as animated GIF files (choose File > Save for Web and Devices).

You can also use the Timeline panel to animate a 3D volume created from a DICOM file. See Creating 3D objects and animations.


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