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How to remove a background with GIMP

16 October, 2010 - 01:48

Us GIMP users tend to be left a bit out of help, cause most use Photoshop for their image manipulation. However GIMP is a pretty powerful and freely distributed raster image manipulation program. Not long ago I found a tutorial for compositing with Photoshop. The tutorial is pretty good, but obviously it doesn't help all the way with GIMP.

In the following I will describe how I removed a background with GIMP from an image I took in SL. You can see the before and after shots below.

How to remove a background on GIMP

First of all I took the pic, using a slightly grey, full bright background. I used the grey one, because often a white one doesn't play nice. Some like to use a bright green background. This is one of those things you need to try yourself to see what works best. Next I created a black and white version of my image. To do this you can use the windlight settings from the tutorial I mentioned earlier. I did this a bit different way. I duplicated the background layer of my image and chose Colors > Desature... and clicked OK.

How to remove a background on GIMP

Then I chose Colors > Brightness-Contrast... and moved the contrast slider to it's max (127) and the brightness slider to -79. Please notice the amount of brightness depends on your picture, so you need to try and see which setting is the best. Now I had created a black on white image.

How to remove a background on GIMP

In order to make my evil plan to work I did need it to be white on black. So I chose Colors > Invert. After creating this image with white silhouette on a black background, I copied it and made the layer invisible by clicking the eye next to the said layers thumbnail.

How to remove a background on GIMP

After this I made the original image layer active by clicking it and chose Layer > Mask > Add Layer Mask.... From the pop up I chose White (full opacity) and clicked Add.

How to remove a background on GIMP

I could see the mask appearing on the layers list as a white rectangle next to my original image. Right after doing so I pasted the white on black image I had copied before, which now appeared on the layers list as a Floating Selection (Pasted Layer). The image had now a transparent background. I right clicked this floating selection on the layers list and chose Anchor Layer from the menu that popped up.

How to remove a background on GIMP

The white on black image replaced the white rectangle on the layers list. I right clicked on that layer and chose Apply Layer Mask.

How to remove a background on GIMP

After all of this I could copy and paste my image on a background of my choosing! Oh, by the way, the style credits will follow later.

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6 comments for "How to remove a background with GIMP"

Chus's picture
Chus, on , said:

Wooo, thank you again! Me and background removing weren't friends before.

Bastet's picture
Bastet, on , said:

I'm so happy if I can help!

I've had problems with this myself and it's still sometimes a bit of a struggle. But I'm getting better and better with this all the time and for me it's been all about trial and error. I hope this will remove some of the error for my fellow GIMPers. :)

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[...] How to remove a background with GIMP | Kis Kis, Bang Bang bastet.helmikuu.net/2010-10-how-remove-background-gimp – view page – cached The blog of Second Life avatar Bastet Hazelnut, owner and designer of Kis Kis. Fashion, design, interiors, architecture and other SL related posts and store news. Tweets about this link [...]

Bayberry Lilliehook's picture

Ihanaa, en malta odottaa, että pääsen kokeilemaan. Ja vieläpä uudella koneella, jonka sain vastakoottuna keskiviikkona.

Kiitos! <333

Bastet's picture
Bastet, on , said:

Hienoa, toivottavasti onnistuu!

Bikinigirl | Kis Kis, Bang Bang's picture

[...] | flowey | Kis Kis | accessories TweetAs promised, here are the style credits for the background removing with GIMP [...]

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