I purchased some stock images for a website I'm building (I'm a programmer, with relatively no design experience at all). The issue at hand is, like most stock images, the images I purchased are on white canvases. I need the images on transparent backgrounds.

I googled for the process on picking out an image from the background - and its a relatively tedious task when you have 10 images at hand (add filter, draw border along image, magic wand, invert selection etc.)

Considering almost no one actually wants or needs the white background stock images are placed on, I suspect there has to be an easier way to achieve what I'm looking for.

So, in short - is there an easier way to pick out a stock image from its background? What are the chances that the image has cutting paths, and if it does, how do I use it? I have Paint.NET and GIMP at my disposal.

  • Well, you could always try looking for stock images that already have a transparent background. But no, other than that, I don't know of any way significantly easier than this. Jan 31, 2012 at 4:58
  • Unfortunately the client has already purchased the images. I just installed Gimp. I guess I'll go over the tutorial you linked. Thanks. Btw, do you know of any good stock image websites that sell images on transparent backgrounds? I wasn't able to find any. They all seem to love the white background
    – Ayush
    Jan 31, 2012 at 5:02
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    There are some stock sites which have transparent images (gettyimages.com, superstock.com), but the pricing is dramatically different when compared to microstock sites like istockphoto or dreamstime, et al. Unfortunately the microstock jpgs will never support transparency and, most likely, no paths either. There's really little which can be done other with microstock images than to remove the background yourself.
    – Scott
    Jan 31, 2012 at 7:14
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    In some cases where you don't really need the background to be transparent, but you need to place 2 or more images close together and theres white background from the image blocking the way obviously, you can use blending mode: Multiply in the images (against white document background). As long as there is no need to overlap the actual objects in the images. (Like a persons hand overlapping another persons torso or something..)
    – Joonas
    Jan 31, 2012 at 8:59
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    the point of the white background IS to make removing it to transparency as easy as reasonably possible. Jan 31, 2012 at 12:13

2 Answers 2


You can try RGGJAN fork of GIMP available at partha.com (bottom links in the left sidebar). It has an improved tool for selecting objects. You just select general area, mark the object with a brush, and you get your selection. Here is a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kkQ1r5g49d4


I'm not familiar with GIMP or Paint.NET, but there is a nice plugin for Photoshop called "kill white". This removes white areas from an image. After applying this filter you can then refill the white areas if there were any removed. Hope this helps.


  • Sometimes I think that people vote up questions and answers just for the sake of getting badges.. I'd almost like to down vote this question. The OP says "I have Paint.NET and GIMP at my disposal." photoshop is neither of those... and as the first comment Ilmari gives a link to another answer that shows technique for Gimp which is basically the same as what KillWhite plugin does for PS.
    – Joonas
    Feb 2, 2012 at 9:41
  • I agree. I was not going to answer this question except I found this plugin extremely useful. I also figured being in the field he/she may have access to PS via a friend, client or employer. Feb 2, 2012 at 17:41

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