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Home Photo Editing How to Remove Background in GIMP

How to Remove Background in GIMP

Easy, proven methods for removing background in GIMP quickly and effectively.

Are you stuck on removing background in GIMP? This free, open-source image editor has many powerful tools and capabilities, and we’ve compiled the top four ways you can remove a background hassle-free. Each method is pretty straightforward depending on the complexity of your background and foreground.

We hope you find these methods helpful to remove background with GIMP. Be sure to comment below which tool is your favorite!

Add a Transparent Layer

First things first, you’ll want to create a transparent layer to your chosen image before removing the background. You will do this for every method below.

Right-click on your chosen image layer in the layers panel and click Add Alpha Channel. This will add a layer of transparency beneath your main image once the background has been removed. Make sure you do this every time you open up a new image.



Fuzzy Select Tool (Magic Wand)

The Fuzzy Select Tool is similar to the “Magic Wand Tool” in Photoshop, and is one of the quickest and easiest methods to use. This particular method works best if your image background is solid.

Step 1: Select the Fuzzy Select Tool located on the top left of the program. The icon looks like a magic wand.

Step 2: Select the background that you want to eliminate. You can easily refine the selection by using the Threshold tool. This helps to fine tune the highlighted areas within the foreground.

Adding Alpha Channel for Transparent Layer

Step 3: Find the Threshold button located on the lower left of the screen. Set the range by dragging the pointer to the right or to the left (or up and down) depending on how much you want to tune your background selection.

Removing background in Gimp: Fuzzy Select Tool works best for images with solid background

Increasing the Threshold will grab more of the background color and the selected region will become larger. In contrast, decreasing the Threshold will reduce selection. 

Step 4: Once you’re satisfied with the adjustment, make sure the entire image background is selected. Go ahead and press the Delete key to remove the background. You should see a transparent background.



Intelligent Scissors Tool

The Scissor tool is an interesting tool that combines features from the Lasso and Path selection tools. We recommend using this method if the foreground and background of your image are distinct in color. The Scissor tool works by drawing paths around the foreground of your image, automatically detecting the edges of the subject.

Step 1: Locate the Scissor Tool in your toolbox. The icon is a pair of scissors.

Step 2: Start by clicking the first point of the subject, and keep selecting anchor points all around the foreground. Once you have gone around the whole subject, click on the first point created to complete the selection.

Tip: Zoom into your photo for a better view and try to select lots of anchor points around the object for the most accurate and clean-cut selection. Avoid long spans between anchor points.

Step 3: After selecting the first point, click anywhere inside the foreground space to complete the selection.

Step 4: To delete the background of your image, click on the Select menu. Find and select Invert to highlight all of the areas outside of your foreground.

Step 5: Once your entire background is selected, press the Delete key to remove the background.

Gimp Intelligent Scissors Tool



Free (Lasso) Select Tool

Another method is to use the “Free Select Tool” which allows you to freehand or draw polygonal lines around the chosen subject. This method is recommended for fairly simple shapes and objects as you will have to freehand select your foreground. 

Step 1: Select the Free Select Tool on the top left corner. The icon resembles a lasso, very much like the Lasso Tool in Adobe Photoshop.

Step 2: Just like the previous method, you’re going to select your first anchor point and free hand your way around the subject. Be sure to select short distances between each anchor point for the most precision.

Free Lasso Select Tool - Gimp

Step 3: Anchor your way around the subject and click on the first point to “close” the shape and transform it into a selection.

Step 4: Now that the subject is selected, we want to inverse the selection so the background is selected. Click on the Select menu, then Click Invert to select everything outside of the foreground.

Free Select Tool allows drawing polygonal lines around the chosen subject, and this method works great for removing background of simple shapes and objects in gimp.

Step 5: Simply press the Delete key to remove the background.



Foreground Select Tool

Last but not least, we have the Foreground Select Tool. This tool is similar to the Scissors Tool, where you want the foreground and background to be in contrast with each other for best results. This particular tool helps you extract both the foreground and background through the difference in colors.

Step 1: Find the Foreground Select Tool at the top left corner. It has a portrait figure in the icon.

Step 2: For this method, you’ll want to hold down the left mouse button while you trace the outline of the foreground. Try to keep close to the edges of the subject as much as possible, and loop back to the initial point to enclose the selected shape.

The foreground select tool helps in changing or removing background in gimp

Step 3: Next, Press Enter to select the foreground. Once you press Enter, you’ll see the image turn blue.

Step 4: Click and long press the left mouse button again while you draw a line through the foreground. You may adjust the paintbrush size that is appropriate for your subject. Draw a continuous line only in the selected foreground, making sure to go over all the colors that you want to be selected. Be extra careful not to go over the background colors.

Gimp Foreground Selection Tool

Step 5: Release the mouse button and notice how the non-selected areas are now blue. 

Step 6: Press Enter to preview your foreground selection.

Step 7: Once satisfied, click Select in the small Foreground Select window.

Step 8: Now it’s time to delete the background. Choose Select in the upper menu. Click Invert in the scroll down menu.

Step 9: Your image background is now selected. Press Delete to remove the background.


Natch Anan
Natch Anan
Natch Anan is a full-time content writer specializing in Social Media Marketing and Brand Journalism. She holds a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from The University of New Mexico. When she's not working, you can find her hopping around SE Asia, film camera in hand and ready to capture the next story.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t usually use anything other than photoshop to remove background. But, it seems in GIMP there are number of ways to remove the background. Also, the edges looks perfectly done. I think I should try GIMP too to remove the background. Thank you for sharing thi remove the background tutorial in GIMP. Can you please tell me, which one is the easy and fast process to remove any background in GIMP?

  2. Really outstanding! – I wasted hours today wondering why no Gimp tutorials would work for me, Finally, I have successfully dropped the white background from a product photo. Thanks so much for taking the time to make and publish this article.

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