How to Remove Background from Photos or Images with GIMP

Good photography fans will surely require a program with which to edit their photos. For this, the most popular tool is Photoshop, but it has the disadvantage that it is paid for, so it is not suitable for everyone. As an alternative we can always use GIMP, open source and free with which it shares many of its functionalities. One of them is especially useful, such as the possibility of cutting or eliminating the background of any image.

Surely on more than one occasion we have required the possibility of being able to eliminate the background of any photograph we have taken in order to work only with the part that interests us. This is something that can be done with different applications. For this reason, today we are going to see how we can carry out this work with a tool as popular as GIMP.

Remove Background from Photos or Images with GIMP

GIMP, the professional open source editor

GIMP is a professional image editing tool, with which you can perform all kinds of work such as cropping, converting and retouching the image, masking, etc. It also has a good number of tools with which to select and remove the background of any image. In this way, we can select only one object or person from an image and delete everything else. This is ideal when we want to make any type of montage, collage, etc.

This software has been developed freely and for free to be an alternative to private and commercial software, so that it can be used by all types of users. Despite not reaching the high performance quotas of other programs such as Photoshop, it is a great option for a wide range of users to develop all kinds of editing tasks.

To start using it, just download it from this link. Being a multiplatform program, we can use it in operating systems such as Windows, macOS and Linux. In addition, it has a portable version, in case we do not want to install it on our computer.

Ways to remove the background from a photo with GIMP

When it comes to eliminating the background of a photo with GIMP we will have three tools such as the Fuzzy Selection (magic wand), the Free Selection tool (lasso) and the Quick Mask tool. Next, we explain how each of them works. The Fuzzy Selection tool is the easiest to use of the three options, the Free Selection and Quick Mask tool being reserved for use by more advanced users and with more complex images.

Fuzzy Selection Tool or Magic Wand

It is a tool very similar to the magic wand that we can find in Photoshop, so it will be of great help to eliminate the background that contains areas with sharp edges. Although it is difficult to select exactly what we want with absolute precision, it does work well with backgrounds that incorporate a solid color.

Once we have opened the image in GIMP we will have to right click on the layer in the menu that we find on the right side. This will open a context menu where we must select the option “Add alpha channel”. Later we must select the “Fuzzy Selection” tool (magic wand icon) that we visualize in the upper left part. This will open a menu within the tool itself where we must make sure to have the “Smoothing”, “Blur the edges” and “Drawing mask” options checked.

GIMP Añadir canal Ala y herramienta de selección difusa

Next, we must click and hold the mouse cursor on the image and drag it along the background that we want to remove. We can increase the selection range by moving the cursor upwards, while if we move it downwards we reduce the range. In this way we will make the unwanted area appear purple.

GIMP seleccionar fondo con varita mágica

Once we have selected the correct area to delete, we release the mouse button and press the DELETE key on our keyboard. With this we will be able to eliminate the selected background with a stroke of the pen. To ensure that the image is perfect and without a background, we can repeat the operation for different areas.

GIMP quitar fondo con varita mágica

Free Selection Tool (lasso)

Another tool that we have available in GIMP to eliminate the background of an image is the Free Selection or Lasso tool, which will allow us to create a selection by drawing it freehand with the pointer, while holding down the left mouse button.

To do this we must open the image and right click on the layer in the menu that we find on the right side. In the contextual menu where we must select the option “Add alpha channel”. Now we select the “free selection” or lasso tool and we will take care of bordering the object or person that we want to separate from the background. It is a complex method, but with which we can achieve a higher level of precision when removing the background.

GIMP seleccionar herramienta de lazo

When we have it selected, we must click on the “Select” tab at the top of the menu, and then on “Invert”.

GIMP Seleccionar e Invertir

Finally, we only have to press the DELETE key. This removes all the background from the image or photo completely. In case we have not achieved it the first time, we can repeat the operation until we achieve it, as it is a method that requires a bit of practice and a good pulse to master it.

GIMP eliminar fondo lazo

Quick mask tool

Finally, we are now going to see the quick mask tool, with which we will be able to paint a selection instead of drawing its outline to eliminate the background of any image.

We start by opening the image and right clicking on the layer in the menu that we find on the right side. In the contextual menu that appears, we select the option Add alpha channel. Later we go to the “Select” tab and click on the “Activate quick mask” tool. When doing this, our image will be superimposed in red.

GIMP Activar máscara rápida

Next, we select the “Eraser” tool and erase the red color from our main image, leaving the background.

GIMP Seleccionar borrador

Now, we must press the keyboard shortcut of the Quick Mask tool which is “Shift + Q”, which will be in charge of selecting our image. Once the image is selected, click on the “Select” tab and click on “Invert” to select the background.

GIMP eliminar fondo con máscara rápida

Finally, we click on the DELETE button to remove the background. We must be very skilled with the eraser tool to keep all the image that we want to keep and leave out all the background.