I realize there are a ton of questions like this, but they are all way overcomplicated for what I am trying to do.

What I want to do is very simple. I want the background of my image completely transparent, and the foreground completely opaque. My background is white while my foreground is a pale blue and gold. Whenever I use color to alpha I end up with the foreground being semi-transparent.

How do I make the background transparent without changing the transparency of the foreground?

  • it is better to repace this way: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/q/21685 .
    – qdinar
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 3:50
  • 1
    @qdinar Why is it better? What you link is Photoshop and not GIMP, GIMP's Color to Alpha works perfectly.
    – Csaba Toth
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 22:14
  • @CsabaToth maybe i had a case with white areas in the foreground which i wanted not to make transparent, but i wanted transparency in the border, to not have white borders when selection is pasted onto other background.
    – qdinar
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 6:45

2 Answers 2


Whenever we choose to change a color to transparent with the Layer > Transparency> Color to alpha tool we will also introduce semi-transparency of colors different to the selected. Below this is shown for making white in the background transparent:

enter image description here

In case this is not wanted we need to select only a single colored area for transparency. This can be done with the Select By Color tool (ToolsSelection ToolsBy Color Select) enter image description here enter image description here.

  • Make the threshold of selection low to zero to select only a single color.
  • Feather the selection for a smoother transition.
  • Add a transparent layer if not yet present (Layers > Transparency > Add Alpha Channel)
  • Clear (Edit > Clear or Del) the selected color to make it transparent:

enter image description here

  • 1
    I coudn't realize how to "Make the threshold of selection low" Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 17:52
  • 2
    @ShirleyTemple it is what the tools option for Gimp "select by color" lets you choose. The higher the threshold the more similar colors are included.
    – Takkat
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 19:25
  • That still leaves a white halo around, instead of replacing the white with transparency.
    – Flimm
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 16:38
  • @Flimm you may have to feather the selection a bit more to get rid of any anti-aliasing white that may still be there.
    – Takkat
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 17:15

Use the "Select by Color Tool". Not the "Color Picker Tool". Be sure to Layer-Transparency-Add Alpha Channel. Try a higher threshold setting like 29 instead of 0 of the "Select by Color Tool". Then Press Delete. No Halo :)

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