I am by no means a Graphic Designer but try. I have an image I got from iconarchive and am trying to set the color to red (#840a0c) and setting transparent where there is white. I am using GIMP for this task and every time I give it a whirl I get jagged edges and it just looks awful:

Original icon:

enter image description here

Modified icon:

enter image description here

Would appreciate any help.

  • 1
    It would be easier for you if you downloaded Inkscape and used it to build the entire image as a vector instead of the process you're trying, but that's just me.
    – user9447
    Sep 30, 2014 at 18:04
  • Downloaded Inkscape and am completely lost.
    – Rick
    Sep 30, 2014 at 19:38
  • Ideally these would be vector icons to begin with--which would make creating color and transparency very easy in Inkscape. Alas, these are PNG files, which isn't doing you any favors. You'll need to use a process like this: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/21685/…
    – DA01
    Sep 30, 2014 at 19:57
  • 2
    Note that in the end, it's likely less painful to just by a set of vector icons.
    – DA01
    Sep 30, 2014 at 19:57

3 Answers 3


The main problem in such an icon is the antialiasing zone between the black and the white.

@ybeltukov approach with GIMP is correct. In order to proceed and clear the white zone you need to select it (by color or with the magic wand) and tweak a little e.g. increasing the selection by 1 pixel and feather the selection to avoid the pixeling effect visible in your example.

In Inkscape is not so difficult.

At first you need to import the icon, while dragging it or using File->Import... (you can either embed or link the icon, for this example it doesn't matter).

icon embedded in Inkscape

Next step is vectorize the image, i.e. convert the pixels of the image in vertex and lines. This task could be performed using Path -> Trace Bitmap... (the icon must be selected). It appears a window with the settings:

Trace bitmap

You need to find the optimal settings for your image. With "Update" button you can have a preview.

When done, hit "Ok" button and close the window. The traced image is over the original one, as a group of paths.

traced image

Now, you can ungroup the image, choose the paths more close to your icon, edit a bit them (refer to a manual) and change the colors as you need:

final step

Now, you can export the image (File -> Export Bitmap...) as a png (note that the inner of the image is transparent, now):

final icon

So... using GIMP or Inkscape? Depends of your needs.

  • Played a bit per your instructions and got it. Thanks!
    – Rick
    Oct 1, 2014 at 15:49
  • @Rick Very well! If you want, you can mark as answered the question, now. Oct 2, 2014 at 7:19
  • Now, you can ungroup the image, choose the paths more close to your icon, edit a bit them (refer to a manual) and change the colors as you need: — I apologize, you could give more full reference? I don't understand how to make it. Thanks. Jul 15, 2016 at 9:09
  • When you trace a bitmap, you can choose how many Scans will be generated. As result of the trace you get a group of paths (one path for each scan), and you can work and edit (or remove) each path in order to obtain a more suitable image. I suggest you to try with simple bitmaps and to read manuals, tutorials and references. Jul 15, 2016 at 12:24

Dead simple! Just put a layer above the logo layer with the colour (or texture) you want to apply to the logo layer below and set the opacity mode to screen and the edges will look nice and clean too.

I second what the other guys are saying about leaning Inkscape however!

EDIT: I just noticed that your original logo is dark grey rather than black so this method will give a lighter shade than the screen layer. You need to adjust the levels of this logo layer so that the black is fully black. I know the following screenshot is Photoshop but Gimp has a levels tool under Colours > Levels too and it's practically the same thing. Again, this is much better to do in a vector program.

enter image description here

  • Does this work only for black original images? Oct 11, 2017 at 20:31

You can tweak color curves to obtain a smooth picture. Just increase the red component and decrease green and blue components:

enter image description here

It is simple, but it is difficult to obtain the specified color exactly (#840a0c) as in @marcusdoesstuff's solution.

Another (less accurate) possibility is to select only RGB channels (not alpha) and apply filling with the proper threshold

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • This is a rather convoluted method of changing a black and white logo to colour. Colour curves is better suited to tweaking photography (eg. for imitating cross-process film development). Oct 1, 2014 at 13:11
  • 1
    @marcusdoesstuff All methods are possible if they produce a correct result and require few clicks. P.S. It is not conventional to downvote on SE if you find a better solution and the previous one also works.
    – ybeltukov
    Oct 1, 2014 at 13:30
  • 1
    I actually decided that it was unfair but it won't let me change it unless the answer is edited. This is, however, a bit like using a knife to eat soup. When you want to change a colour to a specific shade or hex curves just isn't the tool that's designed for the job. Oct 1, 2014 at 13:33
  • @marcusdoesstuff, I edited my post and add the mention of your post with the same idea! :)
    – ybeltukov
    Oct 1, 2014 at 13:41
  • fixed for you :) Oct 1, 2014 at 13:44

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