Nov 302012
 

Last Updated: November 15, 2013

Latest News: Amended step 6 and added Export instead of Save thanks to Bruce for pointing this out.

News: Gimp has released version 2.8.8. 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

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.

1 ) Open your image and select the area you want to make transparent, in this instance we are going to select the black background. Use shift-click to add more regions/colors.

Tip: Use zoom in to see finer details of exactly what you’re selecting.

gimp-transparent-background-select-image rose

2 ) I am going to use the Fuzzy Tool. See images below.

gimp-transparent-background-fuzzy-tool

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

gimp-transparent-background-selected

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

gimp-transparent-background-alpha-chanel-active

4 ) Select Edit – Clear.  This makes the selection transparent. See image below.

gimp-transparent-background-clear

5 ) Export the file. I will 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.

gimp-transparent-background-export-selection

This is the end result

gimp-transparent-background-rose

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

I have added 2 flash videos 1 is a slideshow tutorial using wink and the other is a youtube video.

Transparent background using Gimp using wink and for those with slow connections.

or you can watch my youtube video below.

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

Good luck :)

You might also be interested on:

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Manuel Ballesta RuizManuel Ballesta Ruiz has written 202 posts. He can be followed on Twitter.

  54 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?

  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?
    Thanks
    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 :-)

  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

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