enter image description here

How can I add transparent background on this image instead of black background, but I also would like to keep the partial transparency effect on some of the particles and particles borders.

Could you please share actions in either photoshop or gimp, thanks.


5 Answers 5


And just to be complete, here is the GIMP answer.

Just do:

  • Colors > Color to Alpha ...
  • select Black
  • Click OK

if "Color to Alpha ..." is greyed out you need to set the Image mode to something else than indexed, e.g.:

  • Image > Mode > RGB
  • You saved a lot of time to a programmer :)
    – mxg
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 13:54
  • 2
    Such a simple function, I can't imagine why it's not included in Photoshop, made my day!
    – javaxian
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 13:32
  • can't see 'Color to Alpha' at all?
    – v3nt
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 11:38

Greenfish Icon Editor Pro has this functionality out of the box. It is a function called "Remove Matte", where you just specify the color component you want to be replaced with transparency. In your case black.

This is the result:

Red thing

Greenfish Icon Editor Pro is totally free of charge. It is by far the best free icon editor I have ever tried. From the description of the product on the download site:

GFIE Pro is a powerful icon, cursor, animation and icon library editor. Layer support with advanced selection handling makes it a really professional and unique freeware tool for designing small pixelgraphic images. GFIE offers high-quality filters like Bevel, Drop Shadow and Glow; supports editing animated cursors and managing icon libraries. It's lightweight (< 1.8 MB unzipped) and also has a portable version - just unpack it to your USB drive and use it anywhere. A clean, customizable, multilanguage user interface makes it really easy to learn and use.


This will require a little experimentation. As with most things in Photoshop, there are multiple ways to get there.

Method 1:

  • Eyedropper a solid part of the red cloud to make it the foreground color.

  • Choose Select > Color Range. Set your Selection Preview to "Grayscale" and the preview thumbnail to "Image" so you can see what you're doing. Uncheck "Localized Color Clusters".

  • Adjust the "Fuzziness" slider until your grayscale preview matches the image thumbnail. Click OK.

  • Copy the selection to a new layer using Layer > New Layer via Copy or the keyboard shortcut Ctl/Cmd-J.

Iterate these steps using different fuzziness settings until you have what you want.

Method 2:

  • Copy your image to a new layer. Optionally, place a layer below with the color you expect you'll be using in any final composite (e.g., a background color or image on a website) so you can see exactly what things will look like.

  • Double-click the new layer thumbnail to open the Blending Options dialog.

  • In the "Blend If" section, drag the "This Layer" black slider to the right to remove the completely black background, then hold down Alt (Option on Mac) and drag the right half of that slider further to the right until you see the effect you're looking for:

Blend If

  • Select All (Ctl/Cmd-A) and Copy Merged (Ctl/Cmd-Shift-J), then paste wherever you need the new layer with transparent background. (NOTE: If you used the option to place a temporary background below this layer, turn that off before copying so that all you retain the transparency.)

The advantage of this second method is that it is entirely non-destructive, and you can fine tune as much as you like.


Theres two ways that i would use to do this in photoshop:

1. Make selection from red channel

  1. Go to Channels window and click red channel while holdin Ctrl button to make selection out of it.
  2. Make sure youre back in rgb channel and go back to layers window.
  3. Copy the selection Ctrl+j and there you go.

You could also invert slection and delete the background.. Works either way.

1. Make it into a brush

  1. Turn the image black and white.
  2. Invert colors Ctrl+I to make sure that the image you want to extract is now black andbackground white.
  3. Then go to Edit > New brush preset and make the image into a brush.
  4. If you get brush tool you can find this image as a brush in the brush list.

Its good to keep in mind that when you make aa brush dark and light colors are threated as opacity essentially ( black = 100%, white = 0% )

Also this will only work on single color...

Will add better explanations tomorrow when im on my pc.


For this type of image I use the freeware "Eliminate Black" filter, followed by Remove Black Matte.

  • I just find that this is the best way of removing black from a image. I found the detailed steps in About.com
    – TwoSim
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 3:53

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