How To Change Image Back­ground in GIMP


We know a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s say you have taken a photo with some not-so-cool background. Now having a dull background would undermine the image’s essence, so what do you do?

Change Image Background In Gimp

The best way to enhance an image is to change its background. Sadly, the conventional image editors do not provide this feature and you will have to use professional editors like Photoshop or GIMP. We will be using GIMP here.

Without further ado, let’s get started on how to replace background in GIMP.

Replace Background Color

If the background is simple and consists of only a single color, you can use the following method to replace it. In this method, first, we need to remove the background color and then we will add an image.

Step 1: Launch GIMP and open the image for which you want to change the background by going to File > Open.

Step 2: From the Tools panel on the left, choose the Fuzzy select or Select by color tool and click once on the background color to select it.

Once you do that, you will see that the background color is selected.

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Step 3: With the background selected, go to Edit > Clear. Alternatively, press the Delete key on your keyboard to delete the background.

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Step 4: Now that you have an image with a transparent background, you can add anything here. If you want to add a solid color, select Bucket Fill tool and choose the color from color palette. Then click on the background of the image to fill it with the new color.

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Step 5: If, however, you want to replace it with a different image, follow this step, otherwise go to step 6. Open the image using File in the top bar and choose Open As Layers from the menu.

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You will see that the new background will hide your original image, as it is the top layer. Now from the Layers panel on the right, hold the mouse on the background image and drag it below the main image.

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That’s it. You will have your image with a new background.

Step 6: Lastly, you need to save the image. To do that, go to File > Export As and save the image.

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Replace Multicolored Background

Usually, the images don’t have a single-colored background. In such situations, we need to use the following methods.

Method 1: Using Eraser

Step 1: Launch GIMP and open the image whose background you want to change from File > Open.

Step 2: Next, using File > Open as Layers, open the image that you want to keep as the background.

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Step 3: You will see that the new image will cover the original image. Now from the Layer panel on the right, hold the mouse pointer and drag the new background image below the original image.

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Step 4: Again, in the Layer panel, right-click on the original image and select Add Alpha Channel. In case the button is greyed out, it means it is already added.

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Step 5: After adding the alpha channel, again right-click on the same layer and now choose Alpha to Selection from the menu.

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Step 6: Click on the Eraser tool from the tools panel in the left and start removing the background to reveal the new one. You can change the size of the eraser in the toolbar.

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Step 7: Once you are done removing the background, use File > Export As to save it to your PC.

Method 2: Using Quick Mask

Another method to remove background is with the help of Quick Mask. Here are the steps:

Step 1: With the help of File > Open, load the image whose background you want to change. Then with the help of File > Open as Layers, load the new background.

Step 2: Since the new background image will cover the original image, move it below the original image from the Layers panel in the right sidebar.

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Step 3: Right-click on each layer in the layer panel and select Add Alpha Channel from the menu.

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Step 4: With the original image layer selected, click on the Foreground select tool from the toolbar and draw an outline for the portion that you want to extract.

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Step 5: Now if you feel that the selection isn’t perfect, use the Quick Mask tool to refine it. To do so, first, click on the Quick Mask tool present at the bottom-left corner of the image. Your image will turn red.

Then use Mouse and CTRL or SHIFT key to add or subtract the selection.

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Step 6: Once you are satisfied with the selection, draw on the image portion to select the foreground. Then hit the Enter button.

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Step 7: Go to Select and choose Invert from the menu. Finally, hit the Delete key on your keyboard. The new background will replace your image.

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Step 8: Then to save the image, go to File > Export As.

Method 3: Make Background Transparent

In this method, you need to extract the portion of the image whose background you want to change and make its background transparent. We have covered the procedure in detail here.

Once you have made the background transparent and saved the image in .png format, open the new background image in GIMP and then with the help of File > Open As Layers, add the old image with transparent background. Your picture will now have a different background.

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Written By


Mehvish is a computer engineer by profession. Her love for Android made her develop the first app for Kashmir. Known as Dial Kashmir, she won the prestigious Nari Shakti award from the President of India for the same. She has been writing about technology for 3+ years and also has her own Wikipedia page.