I am really struggling to create a white translucent background for text on top of an image with GIMP.

Pottery Barn Kids (http://www.potterybarnkids.com/) has one example of what I am trying to achieve, shown below for future reference:

Example at Pottery Barn Kids

(Note the text along the left side – GIRL ROOMS, BOY ROOMS etc.)

Can anyone point me in the right direction of how to do this? Thanks!

  • 2
    Welcome to GD.SE! If you have a white rectangle in a layer, you can actually change the layer opacity (make it semi-transparent). Have you already tried things and they didn't work? If so it's good to share them so we can see where exactly you are getting stuck :)
    – Yisela
    Jul 2 '14 at 23:15

FYI: I don't believe any sort of translucent effect is occurring there. It looks to me like a simple white box is placed over the image and under the text at ~75% opacity.

To achieve an actual translucent effect, do the above but also select the area of the image covered by the box and apply a blur to it at whatever settings you find appealing.


A straightforward way to do this is:

  1. Start with the base image (in its default layer).
  2. Add a new layer (with Layer Fill Type "Transparency"), and make sure it is selected.
  3. Set the foreground color to white.
  4. Select and fill the rectangle you want with the foreground color (white).
  5. Set the 2nd layer's opacity to 75%.
  6. Set the foreground color to black.
  7. Add the (black) text you want over the semi-see-through white rectangle.

Here is an example I created following these steps:

Translucent Button Overlay Example

Little variations from these exact steps will come up getting exactly what you want, but this should give you the basic "Pottery Barn" effect to start.

In case it is clearer to see the undo history for my stab at a solution (using GIMP 2.8), here it is:

Translucent Button Overlay Undo History

  • 1
    Didn't' get any of this after the third step.. Screen cast it. Nov 8 '15 at 18:47

You need to do that in 2 steps, background first, then, write your text.

Without layers : 1. make a rectangle selection and increase luminosity 2. write your text over it.

With layers (better) :

  1. make a new empty layer
  2. draw white rectangle, either
    • change layer opacity (easy)
    • add an alpha mask and fill it with gray
  3. write your text.
  • You don't say how to do any of this.. Great, two ways it can be done. Nothing specific to gimp. Nov 8 '15 at 18:44

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