I have a basic image that is black on a white background. I simply want to invert the image, take the now white portion and paste it on another image in GIMP. I am having no luck.


Within GIMP, I open that bird and I also open my background to be pasted upon.

On the bird, I click on Colors/Invert and now the portion I want to keep is white.

inverted bird

Now, I don't know what to do. I've tried various layers/masks but don't really understand and cannot seem to get just the white portion on to my second image. I can cut and paste the whole thing but I don't want the black background. I think what I want is just the transparency or whatever the white portion is.

Is there a simple way to do this? Any clear-cut steps?

  • could you mark my answer as the answer, so this question can be closed? thanks!
    – PieBie
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 15:05
  • Important to note that you don't mean closed as in closed as duplicate or such, right?
    – J Sargent
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 2:57

2 Answers 2


Easiest way to remove one color is:

  • Colors > color to alpha
  • select black (HTML: 000000)
  • ok > ok
  • done

enter image description here

Then you can copy-paste the layer onto any other image.

  • This seems to have done the trick. Thank you for the help! Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 8:21
  • No Problem, although I think you could've found this by using Google
    – PieBie
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 9:01

Alternatively - you can just use the Select by color tool (just next to the magic wand on the tool box) - and click on any white part of the image. This will select the white areas - then, just copy and paste on the target image.

The "color to alpha" as @PieBie put it, is more precise, and better to remove a solid background when you want to keep a lot of other colors - but for a simpler case like this, the select by color can easily pick all you want to carry to over.

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