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How To Remove Background In GIMP

Updated on February 12, 2015

How To Remove The Background Of A Picture And Change It

Sometimes our photos just aren't the way we want them to be. But we can improve them a lot if we remove and change background.

In this lens I'll show you how to remove the background of a picture in Gimp, GNU Image Manipulation Program. It's open source raster graphics editor and free of charge to use.

Yellow flower with bee is picture by Pippi Dust

How to Remove Background

Here you can find easy step by step tutorial how to the background of a picture in Gimp.

This is original photo of yellow flowers.

First use zoom to enlarge it.

Then Layer - Transparency - Add Alpha Channel to make background transparent.

Then Select - Invert.

Now you are ready to remove background. You have to use Free Select Tool to do that.

Now place points with Free Select Tool around flower or any other object you want to cut out.

You can place points around flower all at once or step by step.

I prefer to do it step by step because if I accidentally click twice instead of once I'll have to start again.

You can make a circle or square to get to the first point, then just press Delete, and you'll get transparency.

And now place points all around the flower step by step and delete.

And you removed all background.

You can resize picture with Image - Scale image - Image Size.

Now you are going to add some effects. Go to Filters - Light and Shadow - Drop Shadow... to add some shadow.

Here I used color #808080.

And now add beveled edge with Filters - Decor - Add Bevel...

This is the picture you'll get.

Save it as .png to retain transparent background.

And if you save it as .jpg it will become white.

And here it is saved as .jpg. You can notice that background is white, because in .jpg there is no transparency.

How to Change Background

And now I'll show you how to change the background of a picture in Gimp.

Open new image with File - New.

In Advanced options use Fill with: Foreground color.

I used color #f3f2c0.

With Open as Layers... place your picture on a new background.

Here you can use effects again, this time Filters - Decor - Fuzzy Border.

And this is picture of my yellow flower before and after.

How to remove the background from a Picture

Poll time...

Have you ever tried to remove background of the photo before?

See results

Your comments are welcome...

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    • Marja79 profile image


      5 years ago

      I was wondering how to do this, thanks, now I know!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I need to learn your tips on photos.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Your instructions are very clear. I appreciate that!

    • geosum profile image


      5 years ago

      Fantastic lens - and here I was trying to do this in Paint and getting terrible results. Thanks.

    • leatherwooddesign profile image

      Marisa Horn 

      5 years ago from Rintown Pa

      Great tutorial, I will have to stop back when I get Gimp up. I got a Gimp disc years ago and never really used it because I thought it was more for 3D stuff like DAZ which I had my computer overloaded with.

    • emailcash profile image


      5 years ago

      Like your tutorial. This is something that I want to do from time to time. Looks easy so I will give it a go.


    • swapnal-sarang profile image


      5 years ago

      Great tutorial , stumbled this one

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      A great tutorial - thank you!s

    • BLemley profile image

      Beverly Lemley 

      6 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Thanks for this valuable info! Now I must be off to try it out! SquidAngel blessed! B : )

    • crystalwriter profile image

      Crystal A Murray 

      6 years ago from Corydon, Indiana, USA

      Added to my favorite Squidoo lenses on my Pinterest page which also shared to my Twitter & Facebook. You have great steps & examples here plus extra tutorial links. Thanks for sharing your own hard work to help others.

    • maryLuu profile image


      6 years ago

      Very useful your tutorial. Thanks.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      Simplifies the task very nicely. I do take your advice about removing the background to heart. I always try to extract the main image and then HAVE to complete the task all in one go. This will save a lot of bad language, LOL. Thanks and blessed

    • Srena44 profile image


      6 years ago

      great lens... thanks fora sharing...

    • mel-kav profile image


      6 years ago

      These are excellent instructions. I recently downloaded the program, and have been trying to learn how to use it. Thanks for a great lens. PS - Congratulations on your Purple Star!

    • Judy Filarecki profile image

      Judy Filarecki 

      6 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      Thanks so much for such a complete article. I used Gimp years ago and see that it has really increased in its abilities. I use PhotoShop and Painter 12 now, bu they are much more expensive than gimp. I'm glad you mentioned saving in .png to maintain the transparency. I had forgotten about that.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Useful information for everyone. Thanks.

    • bernie74 lm profile image

      bernie74 lm 

      6 years ago

      What a wonderful and helpful lens I can see why it won a Purple star. I have gimp and love it, but I am afraid I am no where near as talented as you so I am off to look at some of your others lenses for help thanks for sharing

      Blessed by a Squid Angel!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      6 years ago

      Very helpful, this would have changed the way I did my kids photography as I would sometimes hesitated to photograph them because of a messy background. Very clear: pinned to my photography board and Squid Angel Blessed.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm going to bookmark this so that I can refer to it later. I'm downloading Gimp now. Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 

      6 years ago

      I appreciate your careful tutorial. Thank you for explaining about there being no transparency in JPG. This will be very helpful. PNG from now on!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing I will be bookmarking this for feature reference

    • CruiseReady profile image


      6 years ago from East Central Florida

      This is a fabulous page - I really must play with Gimp. Up until now, I had been too intimidated to even try!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This was so helpful! Thanks for making it sound so easy! Great lens!

    • PippiDust profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Shorebirdie: You probably want something like this - blue bag:

      Go to this step:

      You'll find a yellow flower with little gray squares in the background. This is transparency. This must be your last step.

      Save your photo as .png and you'll retain transparency. If you save it as .jpg, there will be no transparency.

      And this is it. Have fun. Pippi2011

    • hsschulte profile image


      6 years ago

      This is much more professional that the scribble method I was using in Paint. LOL. Thanks so much!

    • Shorebirdie profile image


      6 years ago from San Diego, CA

      What I have a question is how to you get it so that you can put it on products with just the flower showing and not the white or colored background showing? You can respond on my bio page if you want.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is something I really need, but don't think I understand it. I have a great photo I want to use, but the background is awful. I've been saying I need something like this for a long time.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Really great info! I had no clue.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      A new year needed a new backdrop! Cheers. :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What an excellent Lens, such great information! Thank you for sharing, very easy to follow!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I normally use Photoshop but sometimes if I'm working on another computer I'll have to use Gimp. I already knew this trick but it's great for beginners!

    • lilymom24 profile image


      7 years ago

      I do not have gimp but may download it at some point. Nice tutorial.

    • Rhidawn profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for this tutorial! I too zazzle so I use gimp with my photos, now I have something to read that'll help with my backgrounds. Thanks and great lens!

    • chezchazz profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Thank you for an understandable luddite-friendly tutorial. I would love to try this when I have the time.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a super tutorial!

    • kislanyk profile image


      7 years ago from Cyprus

      That's cool to know. I know to do this with Photoshop but I've just installed Gimp (loads faster than Photoshop to my pc) so I'm trying to learn to do various things with it. Great tute that I'll bookmark to use when needed.

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 

      7 years ago from Ozun

      this is a great info, i thank you so much for giving it and for the hard work with all the photos, now i will try to change the background of a photo too.


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