Nov 302012

Last Updated: January 17, 2016

News: Gimp has released version 2.8.16. You should install the latest version of Gimp. Please read the following, changes made to Gimp

This tutorial was created using Gimp version 2.6.11. Also tested with Gimp 2.8.16.

Important: Only file formats that support transparency include GIF, PNG and TIFF, through either a transparent color or an alpha channel. Please read more about it on Wikipedia Transparency.

Gimp tutorial will show you how to change an image background to transparent background. I am going to use an image of a rose with a black background colour.

Latest News: I have removed some spam comments.

Gimp Tutorial List:

  1. Gimp Image Editor Layout
  2. How to make an image background transparent
  3. Create a Banner using Gimp
  4. Create round corners using Gimp
  5. Create An Image Map For WordPress Using Gimp

Gimp Tutorial – How to make an image background transparent Steps

Step 1 ) Open your image and select the area you want to make transparent, in this example the black background will be removed “deleted”. Use shift-click to add more regions/colors.

Tip: Use the zoom tool to see the details more clearly. This will make it easy to select all the areas of an image you wish to select.

gimp-transparent-background-select-image rose

Step 2 ) You will usse the following tool Fuzzy Tool. See images below.


You can see a white line around the red rose. This tells you that the black background has been selected


Step 3 ) In the Layer window (the one showing your image), select Layer -> Transparency -> Add Alpha Channel.  If this feature is greyed out then it’s already done.  This makes sure your image can store transparency data.


Step 4 ) Select Edit -> Clear.  This makes the selection transparent. See image below.


Step 5 ) Export the file as a png format. This is one of the most widely use formats for the internet. See images below.

Note: Make sure you don’t select Save background colour because it can cause some issues. 

Note: When you save the image as a PNG file, be sure to select the ‘Save colour values from transparent pixels’ option in the Save as PNG dialog box.


This is the end result


And that’s it. As you can see it is very simple.

You might like to check the following youtube video transparent background gimp.

Let me know what you think and if you feel that I can improve this tutorial. Any feed back would be appreciated.

Click on the following link Create a Banner using Gimp to learn more about the menu.


Manuel Ballesta RuizManuel Ballesta Ruiz is a web developer, Blogger and WordPress Enthusiast.

  89 Responses to “Gimp Tutorial – How to make an image background transparent”

  1. Newbie here, I do not see anything under layers that says alpha channel. ???

    Thank you!

    • Hello Ellen thank you for your question. What version of Gimp are you using? This tutorial is based on the latest Gimp version 2.8.

      If you go to step 4 under layer >> transparency, it will allow you to Add Alpha Channel. If this is greyed out it means that you have already selected alpha channel.

      Kind regards

  2. I do not seem to get it to work. I am using GIMP 2.8 and I get the checkered background but the background does not disappear.

    • Webmaster

      Hello Wayne, thank you for your question. Can you tell me the steps you take so that I can assist you further.

      Thank you

  3. Hi, what happens if the end product has rugged edges?

    • Hi Kisha, if the image has rugged edges then you have to select each colour found on the background for you to delete. Once all the background colours have been deleted, then you will have a transparent background.

  4. I am having the same issue as Wayne, I go through all of the steps and save the graphic, and when I go to up load it in another software, I still have the background. Do you have any tips or solutions??

    • Hello Cara thank you for your question. If you follow all the steps as illustrated on this tutorial then it should work. When you save the image what are your steps?

      Kind regards

  5. Thank you so much for your tutorial. I just updated to Gimp 2.8. In the older version it wasn’t necessary to click “export” and save color values to save a png. Now I know to use this extra step. I tried it and it works perfectly! Have a great day!

    • Hello Stacey and thank you for your comment. I am happy you enjoyed my tutorial and it was helpful.

      Yes the new Gimp 2.8 has come a long way from the older version. They are doing a great job with Gimp and I am very happy to promote this great FREE open source software. A very good alternative to Photoshop.

      Kind regards

  6. Thanks for the easy tutorial Webmaster, just wanted to point out when you save the file as a jpeg it doesn’t save the background transparency so that’s probably why so many people are having issues with it, you should make a tutorial on how to make a jpeg’s background transparent also.

  7. I’ve added alpha channel, but when I paste the image it has a light grey background in addition to the image. How do I get rid of the light grey background pattern?

    • Hi Paul, thank you for your question. If you are running the latest version Gimp 2.8 and you are working on a gif, png or tif image? Make sure that you select the entire background of the image you wish you make transparent and delete. If your image has a light grey background then I suspect that your image has more than one background colour. Let me know if I can help you further.

      • Hi,

        I’m dealing with the same problem. I open a new picture with transparent background, so I got the alpha channel from the get go and copy some layers and do an image. After I’ve done my work I export it as an .png but I get a light grey background like the one of the windows picture preview tool, when I host it on a website or view it through a webbrowser on my pc.

        • Hello and thank you for your comment. When you export it what options are you selecting on the window that opens up before it is exported?

          • Sorry that was my fault our images pass through an image server and it does not support transparency. So it automatically adds a gray layering background. Thanks for everything.

          • No problem, I am glad you found the issue. You are most welcome.

  8. Hi,
    Will this work on a pic. of a books title where there are several letters in 2 or 3 words.Some overlap and some seperate?
    PS I want to save the words and delete the background colors.

    • Hi Geoff, thank you for your question.

      The answer is yes, provided that the picture’s background colours don’t overlap the text you want to keep.

      Keep in mind that if you have a background with many different colours or shades, you would have to implement this technique more than once until all different background colours and shades are deleted.

      I hope this helps you with your question.

      Kind regards

  9. Step 6 should read Export, not Save

    Thanks for the tutorial. I have been trying to get a transparent background since last week.

    • Hello Bruce, thank you for your comment. I stand correct, you are right step 6 should say export and not save. Because this tutorial was created before this version was out back then you would save the file. Thank you for you support and I hope it has helped you.

      Kind regards

  10. Thank you for your tutorial. Newbie here. I am wondering could I edit a tiif file which is already had its transparency? In my case, I which to change part of the image smaller.

    Thanks in advance :-)

    • Hello Keng, thank you for your question. When you say you want to edit a Tiff file that has already been set as transparency to a smaller size, yes by simply cropping the image. I hope this helps you.

      Kind regards

  11. The end result looks like someone has neatly cut around the rose leaving a very sharply defined edge. What would you do to fade that sharp edge from fully opaque through to fully alpha?

    That would give the result a really professional look.

    • Hello Richard thank you for your question. Have you tried to use the smudge tool and or the healing tool? Try these tools and see how you go. If you need more help please let me know.

      Kind regards

  12. I just wanted to say your tutorial was great. I downloaded gimp just minutes ago to specifically save a png image with a transparent background. Your tutorial was simple, easy to follow and worked to a tee for someone who has literally used gimp for no more than 30 minutes including installation. Thanks.

  13. Thanks for this tutorial. Simple and it works.

  14. Thank you!!! I did it using your instructions the very first time! Very useful!
    Now if someone would do a “Let’s do your first picture and get started” tutorial! I can’t even figure out how to do the basics. lol
    But I can do this now! Thanks!!!

    • Hello Tay Swaim, thank you for your comment. I am glad to know that my tutorial was helpful :). Would you like to learn how to do a picture using Gimp? Is that what you mean by your question?

      • Well, actually, I just managed to make a lovely egg. So, now what I’m wondering is how to use the fonts I use in other programs in GIMP…such as “Before the Rain”. It doesn’t seem to recognize it. :(

        • Hi Tay, sorry to hear about the font. What version of Gimp are you using? Also you might want to check this website dafont and check to see if they have your font.

          To install your font follow these instructions for windows. Found in the following website.

          How to install fonts:

          – download a font from dafont or another site
          – unzip the file
          – in a separate window, open: my computer > C: > WINDOWS > fonts
          – drag the true type font file into the font folder that you just opened
          – restart gimp and the new font should appear in your fonts list

          I hope this helps you. If you need more help let me know.

          Kind regards

          • I already have all of the fonts I could need from dafont installed. But they aren’t showing up in GIMP…and it’s the latest…2.8.4.
            I normally use Photoscape and wanted to try GIMP. It’s much more complicated, but I know I’ll get the hang of it.
            I just miss my fonts.
            I’ll keep playing with it and learn though. lol
            Thanks again, so much! This tutorial got me in the right frame of mind to play around with it. I’ve been wanting to make a few things transparent and of course, Photoscape isn’t quite up to par with GIMP for things like that.
            Your instructions were clear, concise and very helpful. :)

  15. I definitely appreciated this tutorial. Very helpful! Thank you!

  16. Incredible help, thanks so much!

  17. Thank you so much for your tutorial. It worked for me.

  18. Very nice tutorial. Just what I needed.

  19. Thanks a lot; very useful and to-the-point explanation :)

  20. Worked great , thanks a lot :) !! Was looking for this for a long time !!!

  21. Hey that tool worked AWESOME! Thank you for posting this! Omgosh this will help me BIG TIME on working on fliers for my business (hee hee)

    Only one small problem is that there is a rugged border now around the outside of the picture. I used a guy for the flier I am working on. I have the transparent background but the outer edges of the guy don’t look “smooth” it looks kind of white border (like when you tear a piece of paper) as opposed to when you use sharp scissors (make sense??)

    So how do I fix that or do something with the border around the guy so that he looks smooth?? Thank you for all your help! God bless you!

    • Webmaster

      Hello Kel, thank you for your question. I am glad my tutorial helped you create a transparent background.

      In regards to your other problem with the rugged border around the flier, you can always use the Smudge Tool or maybe even the Bucket Fill Tool. Let me know if this helps you.

      Kind regards

      • Hey thank you for replying back Webmaster! I will try the smudge tool and see how it works. I haven’t used my Gimp too too much so I may have to experiment with it for a little while. Thank you again!

  22. Thanks for your tutorial because I needed to set the background transparent for a PNG image and this helped me to do it (in order to add a logo in a Sharepoint page).

  23. Thanks

  24. This has been great help but what do you do when it wants to clear parts of the picture on the first clear? I am making a clipart border with the same image all around it at the same size and for some reason on three of these images it wants to clear some of them??? Thanks

    • Webmaster

      Hi Mary, thank you for your question. I am sure that the reason why it is trying to clear part of the picture is because there might be a pixel that is the same color as the part of the image you are trying to clear. Try to zoom into the area that you want to clear and see if it merges into the part that is clearing which you don’t want.

      Let me know if that helps you.

      Kind regards

  25. great tutorial ! i literally just started using the program now, and thanks to your excellent & simple to follow instructions, i got the desired result. thank you very much, greetings from Romania !

    • Webmaster

      Hi Dacian Wolf, thank you for your kind words. I am happy to hear that my tutorial helped you.

      Kind regards

  26. Thanks for the handy tutorial. I do this rarely enough that I always forget how, and your tutorial has exactly the info I needed.

  27. This is the simplest way to make the background transparent I have found yet. Tried it 3 times with 100% success. Thanks for posting the procedure

  28. I am going to add this on to my comment. I tried this on a complex image. The procedure worked fine on the large background but left pieces of background showing. Keeping the fuzzy tool turned on I selected those pieces one by one and hit the delete key and Voila they were gone too. This will save me time from having to use the edit tool. The procedure makes Gimp work the same as pixler. Again thanks for posting a clear explanation of how to remove backgrounds.

  29. Thanks for the tutorial. I am having a problem. Recently I am unable to make transparent files anymore. I select New >> Advance Options >> Fill with >> Transparency.

    And then export as .png, however, the file keeps showing white on browsers and black on the desktop. Never select background during exporting of file. In clue what could be happening?

    • Hi Mosies, thank you for your question. Did you make sure you selected save color values from transparent pixels as illustrated in image 5 above? Also when you tested the image did you add it to a html page and then viewed it on the browser?


  30. Hi,
    I’ve used and magic wand to do the background transparenting.But, if the image also has, as the background, white or light color parts, paintnet will make them also transparent. Is there a way to eliminate that on gimp?

    • Hi Hannu, thank you for your question. Have you tried using Gimp? Did you try to follow my instructions above?


  31. I have tried all of the steps above to create a transparent layer or output channel. However, something seems to be not working properly. While editing the file the background shows as the checkered pattern but when I print or export the file and open it in another program the background shows up black. Is this a glitch or is there something I can do to change that?

    • Hi Gadgeter, thank you for your question. When you say that you open the file in another program the background shows as black, can you share with me what other program are you referring too? In some cases the black background color in another program is used to compensate the transparent background. The best way to know if it is working and the image is transparent is to open another image that has no transparency and copy and paste the transparent on top as a layer to see if it is transparent.

      Let me know if that helps you.


  32. Hi Manuel,

    This is again to show how easy and powerfull it is to use gimp.

    Thank you very much for the post; easy, nice and clear.


  33. Thank you, much appreciated. Excellent tutorial. Gimp has quite a learning curve.

  34. Hi,

    I’ve been using GIMP for several months to turn my black and white sketches into digital clipart. I scan the paper sketch, remove the background using the same steps you listed above. It’s worked great until recently. Now, some of my black and white sketches turn gray when I export them as a png file. Not the background – the actual picture. What used to be white in the sketch now has a gray cast to it. Any ideas how to fix this or why it is suddenly happening?


    • Hi Karen, thank you for your question. Did you make sure you did not select the Save background color? Are you also sure you are select all the background that you want to set as transparent? Is this happening while you are viewing the layers? Or did you merge all your layers then deleted the background color?


  35. I do not seem to get it to work. I am using GIMP 2.8 and I get the checkered background but the background does not disappear.

    • Hi thank you for your question. What have you tried so far apart from what you mentioned above? When you say you get the checkered background and the background does not disapper what do you actually mean?

  36. This was PERFECT! Thank you SO much for making it PLAIN. I feel SO good right now, as I have learned my ‘something new’ for the day! You are TOTALLY awesome, Webmaster (as I float away on my cloud)! BIG SMILES OVER HERE!

  37. Hey. Thanks for the tutorial. I was wondering if there’s an easy way to perform this in batch. I have a lot of images that I need to remove the background for.

    • Webmaster

      Hi Gen thank you for your comment. In regards to the using a batch, perhaps you should check Gimp’s forum.

      Kind regards

  38. Mr. Ruiz, Thank you for this excellent tutorial!
    I do have a problem though: While the ‘fuzzy tool’ works fine for selecting out an image on a solid color/value background, it really seems useless for selecting from complicated backgrounds. As an example: an old car sitting in a field, with a background that includes sky; tree line, grass, shadows, etc.
    What a confused mess! The ‘fuzzy’ goes everywhere except around the car!
    Tried the lasso instead, and only caused the car to become transparent! Nice background – but I wanted the car.
    How is this done?
    Thanks in advance,

    • Hi Michael, I understand what you mean. It all depends on the actual image. If it has too many different colors in the background it might be challenging for the fuzzy tool to select what you want. If you use the lasso tool then make sure you delete the background and not the selection. Another test you could try using the lasso tool is to select what you want in an image, then copy and paste the selection into another new image.

      Let me know if you need more information or help.

      Thank you

  39. Thank you, much appreciated. Excellent tutorial. Gimp has quite a learning curve.

    • Hi Rian, yes Gimp is a very powerful full image editor. There is a big learning curve. You need to spend some time learning how to use Gimp, before you know about all the available features.

      Kind regards

  40. I’ve tried several editors for an image, but gimp is the easiest to learn. thank you tutorial

    • You are welcome. Yes I agree that Gimp is a powerful tool and perhaps much easier to learn than other.


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