Have a logo with a white background, but need it to be transparent? This is a common problem with business owners and graphic designers. Logos saved as a JPEG usually come with a white background (unless another background color is set). There are a few tools in GIMP that can get rid of the background, but one tool/method in particular is both very simple and very effective. This is especially true when removing white backgrounds on logos.
The method I am referring to is the Color to Alpha method. When using this feature, it only takes a few simple steps to remove any color from your image, making that color transparent.
Step 1: Import Your Logo or Image
You’ll of course need to import your image into GIMP to start this process. Simply click and drag your image or logo from its file location to anywhere inside the GIMP canvas window (follow the red arrow in the image above). If you already have another composition open, you can click and drag your image to the area above the toolbox that has the Wilbur icon (blue arrow).
Step 2: Add Transparency to Your Image
In order to have access to this feature, you will need to add a transparent background behind your image or logo. To do this, right click on the logo/image layer in your Layers panel (red arrow in the photo above) and go to “Add Alpha Channel” (blue arrow).
Step 3 (Optional): Select Your Text or Elements with the Same Color as Your Background
If your text is the same color as your background, you will need to ensure that it doesn’t also get erased when using this method for background removal (unless, of course, you do want those elements to also get erased. If so, skip ahead to step 4). Luckily, the solution is quite easy.
Grab the Free Select Tool (a.k.a. the Lasso Tool – denoted by the red arrow in the photo above) and roughly draw the selection around your text (denoted by the green arrow) or any area that is the same color as your background that you do not want to be converted to transparency (it does not need to be exact at all). Hit the enter key to apply your selection. Then, hit ctrl+i to invert the selection area or go to Select>Invert. This will select everything outside the selection area(s) you drew.
Step 4: Erase the Background with Color to Alpha
If you have a white background, or really any solid color background, the easiest way to remove it is to go to Colors>Color to Alpha (red arrow).
Click the “Color” option (denoted by the red arrow in the photo above) to manually select a color, or click the eyedropper tool (denoted by the blue arrow) and click on your background to choose your background color as the color to convert to alpha (transparency).
The drawback of this method is that it will erase ALL instances of white in your image or logo, not just the background. For example, when I first open up this tool, there are several parts of my logo that are now transparent or semi-transparent. These are areas where there is either 100% white (fully transparent) or a hint of white (partial transparency).
To fix this, I can adjust the “Opacity Threshold” slider (denoted by the green arrow in the photo above), which is set to 100 by default. As I bring this slider down, less and less of the logo is now semi-transparent. In other words, more of the original logo is restored back to its original colors. In my case, I turned the slider down to a value of .442. This gave me the best result for returning the original logo colors while still erasing the white from my logo.
One thing I will also note is that, because my text is white, if I did not perform step 3, my text will also be converted to transparency (pointed out by the red arrows in the photo above). However, by following step 3, my text will remain white while the white background for the logo is removed.
If you did follow Step 3, hit ctrl+shift+a or go to Select>None to deselect the selection area you drew.
That’s it on how to remove a white background! Your logo’s background should now be removed, and it should now be replaced with transparency. If you enjoyed this tutorial, you can check out my other GIMP Help Articles, watch any of my GIMP Video Tutorials, or enroll in a Premium GIMP Class.