How to Make Things Transparent in GIMP 2

Written by charles clay
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How to Make Things Transparent in GIMP 2
Transparency is a versatile tool in image editing. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

A transparency mask allows you to create a translucent "ghost" of an image by interlacing the image and the background. Use this to create the effect of reflections, holograms, ghosts and many other special effects. Also use this as a simple method for overlaying colour filters without tweaking the colour profile of the original image. Fortunately, the transparency of images in GIMP 2 is controlled by a simple interface.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Click on the "Start" menu on the task bar and select "GIMP 2" from the programs available.

  2. 2

    Open the image you wish to use as the background and the image you wish to use as a transparent insert in separate windows.

  3. 3

    Crop the object you wish to render transparent and copy it onto the background image. Maintain the pasted object and the background as separate layers. Adjust the location and scale of the pasted object.

  4. 4

    Open the "Layers" dialogue box by pressing "Ctrl+L."

  5. 5

    Drag the "Opacity" slider to the left until you have reached the desired level of transparency.

  6. 6

    Flatten the layers to export the image.

Tips and warnings

  • The transparency tool works best when pasting cropped objects on top of whole images. If you wish to render a section of a single image transparent, you will need to manually create a background behind it.

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