This is my original image in a layer... on top of a pattern bg

enter image description here

as you can see, it has a white background. I would love for it to be transparent.

When I change its blending mode to "Multiply" it becomes transparent as you can see in the image below

enter image description here

This transparency is nearly perfect. I cannot reach even 10% of the quality of this white background stripping by any mean, magic eraser, color replacing etc. nothing works like this blending mode.

How can I use the same "technique" to create a saved transparent PNG of my image? without any forced background? This is really my goal here. I'd like to strip it of its white background in the best way possible without working on every pixel for weeks... how do I apply the same "blending" technique that stripped the image of its white background in order to save it transparent?

  • 2
    Unfortunately, there's no way that I know of that this is possible. It's bothered me for years.
    – Hanna
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 4:47
  • You can subtract the white of the image.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 4:54
  • how do i "subtract the white"?
    – JasonGenX
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 5:19
  • 1
    Gimp has a "color to alpha" which seems to be exactly what you want. According to Photography, Photoshop doesn't have such an option, but I don't use Photoshop. Example.
    – Veedrac
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 10:35

4 Answers 4


There's no solid way to get the same appearance as the multiply blend mode. But you can get exceptionally close with very little effort.

Just Command/Ctrl-click the thumbnail for the Blue Channel in the Channel Panel. (should then see marching ants)

Highlight the layer in the Layer Panel and add a new mask.

Invert the mask

Use Levels or Curves to boost the contrast of the mask.

enter image description here

I find Channels are quite often one of the best and fastest way to create a mask, especially if the area being removed is consistent (like a white background).

  • 1
    With a little bit of more work one can get even closer. At minimum you should remove the white fringes by running matting white matte. Tough this is not a big deal if the new background is allwa light colored.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 5:31
  • Good point @joojaa Using multiply basically kills all white. At least with this method you can retain some of the highlights in the inner image area. Perhaps not the 100% white, but you don't darken anything the way multiply does.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 19:34

In addition to Scott's answer, you could use the Blending Options for the layer. Just lowering blend if option:

enter image description here

Gave me a pretty good result:

enter image description here

  • 2
    You might even want to Alt-click that arrow at 190 to separate it into two halves and have a gradient effect instead of a hard cut-off.
    – Vincent
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 8:59
  • 2
    As well as what Vincent suggests to lose the unnatural hard edges, you should move that arrow much further to the right - it's taking too much of the highlights. You're losing all the shadows and lots of details on the people: some are just a head floating above a pair of legs! Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 9:15

I would prefer select the white Area with the magic wand tool and go to Select > Refine Edge or press Ctrl / Cmd+Alt+R and adjust the setting as you may want.

enter image description here


In any program with blend modes you can always use multiply on your original, export it with transparency (png). Open NEW empty project and put in the new file you just exported. Duplicate it until it seems like all the transparency is gone, then go into the lowest layer with a white solid (or brush) and put whites under only the needed area. Export with transparency again.

This should get you a better version of multiply with no white background. I'm guessing it's slower than some other method... but if you're a little creative there's more than one way to do the same thing in these workstations.. and that's a good thing.

  • I can't understand how this answers the question... What you are saying is the opposite of what's being asked
    – Luciano
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 10:31

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