Best Easy Ways Remove Image Background Using GIMP

Best Easy Ways to Remove Image Background Using GIMP

GIMP is free and open-source image manipulation and editing software. It is pretty similar to photoshop with a broader range of toolsets. It is not as enriched as photoshop is, but it has some of the essential tools.

You can achieve premium editing work with the help of this editing software.   

The software is available for all computer OS, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

GIMP offers tools for doing professional background removing jobs.  Professionals editors should give it a try. It is lightweight and comes with a premium user interface.

Not everyone has a high-end PC. So it becomes hard to install the industry-leading editing software, which consumes more storage and power. GIMP can run on a lower-end PC and takes less space. It can be a solution for that.

There are several methods for removing an image background in GIMP. Choosing one depends on the image type and background. All of the processes are not best suited for every picture. You have to determine the image type first and then choose the best-suited method to remove the background.

We will cover the five best and easy GIMP remove background methods to make a transparent background by quickly keeping the subject. Most of these methods are beginner-friendly. One can get used to the ways just by following the steps.

If you don’t know how to remove background in GIMP, then this article is for you.

How to get GIMP?


Before getting started with the processes, let us know how we can get GIMP. It is available online as it is open-source software. It comes under General Public License or GPL.

As GIMP is free software, everyone can give it a try. You can easily download and install GIMP on your PC.

Go to the official site for GIMP and download the setup file for your operating system. If you are using Windows PC, then get the File for windows or if you are using Linux or macOS, then download the respected ones.

After the setup file is being downloaded, click and install the GIMP. Finish the process and launch the software.

Best Easy Ways Remove Image Background Using GIMP

Preparing the Photo in GIMP Software

Open the GIMP software on your PC and then click on “File – Open” to select the photo you need to remove the background. Then add “Alpha channel” for layer activation by left-clicking on the layer which has already been activated. Then click on right to select “Add Alpha Channel”.

Now the image is ready to use various tools to remove the background.

8 GIMP Remove Background Method:

Each of the methods is for particular image types. Before using any of the processes, you must examine and determine the style of the image first.

Method 1 – Using the color tool:

Using the color tool

Using the color tool

This one is the easiest among all other methods. This one is best suited for images with a single-colored background.  When you click on a single color on the picture, this tool will select all the pixels to consist of that specific color.

To access the tool, press Shift + O and then pick the color you want to remove. All the pixels will get selected. You can now delete or change the background according to your need.

This method is an easy process to remove a single color from any image. Remember, the technique will not work as expected if the background consists of a gradient or multiple shades.

Method 2 – Using Fuzzy Select Tool:

Using Fuzzy Select Tool

This method nicely removes the background from an Image in GIMP. Fuzzy select tool replicates the work of magic wand tool in Adobe Photoshop. 

For removing the background using the Fuzzy Select tool, use the following steps:

  1. Open the image in GIMP. Go to File on the top, and click open.

The shortcut for opening an image file is Ctrl + O. 

  • Select the Fuzzy Select tool; the icon appears as a magic wand. You can select the tool by pressing U on the keyboard.
  • Click and drag around the subject to make a selection.
  • Add to your selection by pressing and holding Shift and then clicking the areas you want to include
  • Remove unwanted selection by holding Ctrl on the keyboard and clicking on the portions
  • After you see the overall selection, make sure if it requires any other tweaking
  • If the selection is from the background, click delete on the keyboard to remove the background
  • If the selection is on the subject, go to Select and choose Invert. Now press delete

This GIMP delete selection method works very fine if you are good at making the selection.

The perfect coordination between adding and removing selections makes the whole process much faster and smoother.

Method 3 – Using Path Tool:

Using Path Tool

This method is a bit more advanced. This one is the best and most professional way to get GIMP transparent background. Using the Path tool requires some previous skills and consumes more time.

This process creates the cleanest and more professional result. Path tools have pretty much the same working procedure as pen tools in Adobe Photoshop. You can manually place smooth lines and curves on the border of the subject.

Follow the process :

  1. Open or import the image to GIMP
  2. Select the path tool. The shortcut is B.
  3. Make a selection around the subject’s outline
  4. After completing the selection, the subject got selected. For removing the background, you have to invert (Ctrl + I) the section and then click delete on the keyboard. 
  5. Now make the background transparent or implement a new color by creating a new layer.

If there are many other colors involved in the image, selecting the subject, using the Fuzzy Select tool or Color tool becomes challenging. This method helps to set the issue manually and create a cleaner look.

This GIMP cut out image background works very nicely.

Best Easy Ways Remove Image Background Using GIMP

Method 4 – Using Layer Mask:

Using Layer Mask

There is no specific tool named Layer Mask. Layer masking is a series of techniques used to separate the subject from the background.

Follow the Process:

  1. Open or import the image file on GIMP
  2. Right-click on the image layer from the tray on the right side of the viewport
  3. Select Add Layer Mask from the options
  4. From the toolbar on the left, take the brush tool
  5. Drag on the image background, and the dragged portions will be removed
  6. Carefully navigate the brush tool on the unwanted background keeping the subject untouched

Creating a Mask and then deleting the background is a fantastic way to get the subject detached from the other portions of the image. This method requires your concentration while using the brush tool.
The more carefully you do the work, the more cleaner it will look after the whole process.

Method 5 Alpha Channel Mask:

Alpha Channel Mask

Alpha Channel Masking is also a set of techniques to separate the image background and the subject. It is not a specific tool that we can directly implement.

Follow the steps for this method:

  1. Open GIMP and import the desired image
  2. Click Shift + Ctrl + J to fit the image to the viewport
  3. Next, right-click on the image layer on the right  and select Add Alpha Channel
  4. Add a duplicate layer of the picture. Click on the imported image layer and choose Duplicate Layer from the options
  5. Go to Colors on the top bar and select Desaturate
  6. Again go to Colors and select Curves. Then try to make a visible difference between the subject and the background. Make the subject darker than the background.
  7. After getting the difference,  go to Colors and select Invert
  8. Now select the Paintbrush Tool and remove the darker portions by dragging
  9. After getting ready with the Mask, add a Layer Mask and White With Full Opacity on the Duplicate Layer of the image.
  10. Select the masked Layer and copy it by going to Edit on the top bar. Then double click on the Layer Mask and select Ok. Again go to the Edit and select Paste.
  11. Select the floating Layer from the top. Click on the anchor to Add a Mask
  12.  Now you can delete the made Layer               

This method is the most complicated among all other ones. So, it would help if you had much practice to do it properly.

Method 6 Free Select tool (Lasso)

Free Selection Tool

This one serves a similar purpose as the lasso tool in photoshop. It allows you to select freehand or draw lines on the outline of the subject.

This method is best suited for simple objects. 

Process for using the Free Select Tool:

  1. Open GIMP and import the image
  2. Select the Free Select tool from the toolbar or press F from the keyboard to get the tool selected
  3. Choose the first anchor point and draw freehand around the outline of the object
  4. Click on the first anchor point when you finish the selection
  5. Now the drawing is transformed as a selection, invert (Ctrl + I )  to select the background
  6. Now you can delete or change the background

This work requires precision. If you can achieve accuracy during freehand drawing, then you can easily use the Free Select tool.

Method 7 Quick Mask:

Quick Mask

This one is another masking method you can use to detach the subject from the background.

  1. First, open GIMP and import the picture
  2. Go to the Select option on the top bar
  3. Choose Toggle Quick Mask
  4. When you  get a red overlay, Select the eraser tool from the toolbar
  5. Leave the background and remove the red overlay from the subject with the Eraser tool
  6. When the selection is, press Shift + Q; this will select the subject
  7. Inver, the section, go to Select and then press Invert. Shortcut for inverting is  Ctrl +_I
  8. Click delete on the keyboard, and you will get the subject separated

GIMP background eraser method works fine as any other masking method. This process is much smoother and requires less time than other ones.

Method 8 Foreground Select Tool:

Foreground Select Tool

If the subject has a lot of fine details like hair or fur, the Foreground select tool can be a good choice for background removal.

To work with this tool, first of all, grab the Foreground Select tool and draw a rough outline manually around the targeted object of the photo. This will make a dark blue area over the foreground of the object

Now, manually brush in the areas of the subject, but do not get close to the boundaries. There is an option to increase and decrease the size of the brush using bracket keys.

After finishing the task, check the preview setting to see how it looks.

If the looks are perfect then press Enter button on the keyboard to convert it to select. Then invert the selection by clicking on Select > Invert and then press delete on the keyboard to remove the background.

Cut Out & Paste an Image Into Another Image

After getting the subject as a transparent background, it can be use at GIMP to paste that into another image. To do the job done, at first you have to save the present photo with transparent background. Then go to “file” in the menu bar and select “Export as”.

Then click “select file type”, and choose PNG image. PNG is the extension that saves photos with a transparent background. Then click “Export” to save the photo.

Now you need to open the image where you want to paste the previous photo.

If you saved the photo correctly, the photo will appear on the other photo without the background.

The layers have to merge before saving the photo. To merge the photo, right-click on the upper layer and then select “Merge down”. After doing this you can save the final photo in any format.

Final Verdict:

GIMP is definitely an excellent software for image manipulation and editing. The tools are pretty impressive, and the most important thing is getting access to these professional tools for free.

The GIMP remove background methods are specialized for particular image categories. Try out which one suits your need or interests. We hope that you found this guideline

Try to practice each of the processes to get the best out of GIMP. If you are a Graphic Designer, this software will seem very easy and fun to you.
And if you are at a beginner level, this software user interface is much easier to understand within a few moments.

Use the methods according to the needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does GIMP automatically remove the background?

As a creative person, you should spend more time on challenging work instead of selecting the pixels manually. One plugin named for GIMP can remove the background automatically in a minimum time for editing photos.

Is there an eraser tool in GIMP?

From the image menu select Tools → Paint Tools → Eraser; Another way is from the Toolbox by clicking on the tool icon, or you can also try from the keyboard using the shortcut Shift+E.

Which tool is used to remove unwanted parts of an image?

Cropping is the way to fulfill your requirement in this case. It is the removal of unwanted parts of the photos or illustrated image.

Which one is better GIMP or Photoshop?

Photoshop is the superior program for photo editing, it works for multibillion-dollar businesses. On another hand, GIMP manages to stay competitive and works as an alternative for people who are unable to use paid Photoshop. But if you think of an option for background remove in GIMP,  it is easier than Photoshop.

Can I use GIMP professionally?

If you work for a graphics screen, GIMP is a good option in its price. But there is not much option for color space in GIMP. Sometimes file format doesn’t support GIMP, in these cases, you need to use Photoshop.