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Cut image and transfer to transparent background using gimp

Hi. what i'm looking to do is quite simple. i want to cut the outline of an image within a photo. then i want to paste the cut image on a transparent background. (to give you some background what i'm looking to do is cut around the outline of my daughter. i will be using this image in a digital scrapbooking layout. i need to have her cut out image on a transparent background so that i can use it with different background papers.)

so, i'm able to cut around the image within my photo using the scissors tool. i then add a new transparent layer. i copy my image and paste it on the transparent layer. except the piece that isn't working is that there is a very subtle yellow and black rectangle border around my image (it seems like its the size of the original photo). other than that it looks like everything is as it should be. however when i save my image (i've tried both png and jpeg) and open it it is not on a transparent background. the background is white (it seems that the white part is where the yellow and black outline around my image was.)

i hope this all makes sense. i'm so frustrated and have tried looking all over the web for solutions. i am so appreciative of any help that you all may have.
thank you,
jody

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Hi Jody,

Gimp can be frustrating, but it's one of the most amazing and powerful free applications out there. You're right...what you're trying to do is very simple, but you need to know a few tricks to get it to work well.

First, you need to use .PNG as .JPG files don't support transparency. When you try to save a file in .JPG that has a transparency, or alpha, channel, you should be prompted to "export" the image by flattening all layers, which essentially replaces all the transparent areas with the current background color (usually white).

Second, there's a tool that's been added to the most recent versions of the Gimp that does exactly what you want to do. It's called the "Foreground Select Tool" and is really simple to use once you get the hang of it. This tool was added in Gimp 2.4, so you'll need at least that version or higher to use it. This tool uses a two-step process: first you draw a rough circle around the object you want to cut out (your daughter), then you "paint" over the foreground object so the tool can sample all the colors you're wanting to extract. This sounds strange until you do it...once you understand, it's really pretty simple. You can read the docs for this tool here. There's also a YouTube video that shows the basic process. Apparently no sound on that video, but at least you can see what to do.

Not sure what was happening when you tried to use the scissors. There are so many variables, it's hard to tell. You probably didn't need the extra step of adding a transparent layer...when you had your selection copied to the clipboard, you could have used "paste into" or "paste as new layer" or "paste as new image" to get what you want.

Let me know if this doesn't answser your question.

---
Eric Imboden
http://commoncontext.com
my take on tech : http://redsquiggly.com

Posted on Mar 18, 2009

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