Cutting out an image, or ‘rendering’ an image, is one of the most useful things you can learn to do. This means you can extract part of an image and paste it into another image, or you can save it with a transparent background, or you can combine it with other images in a collage – you can do lots of things, just let your imagination take over.
So, how to cut out an image using GIMP.
Let’s start with GIMP. If you don’t know about GIMP, this GNU Image Manipulation Program is open source, free to use and is incredibly similar to Photoshop. A big difference is that Photoshop is proprietary and can cost quite a lot to buy, while GIMP is free. See my article on OERs for more information on open resources.
1. Open your picture, you can use whatever format your picture is in e.g. .jpg, .png, … – easy.
I’m going to cut my little friend ‘Pinkie’ out from the white background, so I can put this Pinkie image onto other images.
2. Select the path tool from the menu (if you’ve just opened GIMP and haven’t played around with it too much the menu is on the left hand side of your screen), the path tool looks like this:
3. Put ‘anchors’ around your image. Anchors are the dots that appear when you click the mouse on your image with the selected path tool. Using the mouse click a line around your image.
4. Important step: you must connect the first and last anchor. When you are on the last anchor hold down the CTRL button and click on the first anchor, this connects the first and last anchors and creates a full loop around your image.
5. You can now, if you need to, go back and pull the line around your image in and out to match closer to your ideal cutting line. Do this by clicking on the line and while holding down the mouse button ‘pull’ the line in and out.
6. Go back to the left hand side menu and click the button ‘create selection from path‘.
Your line should now looking like ‘marching ants’.
7. Now you need to add an ‘alpha channel‘. This helps GIMP to create a transparent background. On the top menu go to ‘Layer’, scroll down to ‘Transparency’, then click on ‘Add Alpha Channel’.
8. Now you need to invert and cut out image. On the top menu click on ‘Select’, then ‘Invert’. Alternatively you can press CTRL I, then from the top menu select ‘Edit’, then ‘Cut’, alternatively you can press CTRL X.
Voila, you should now have an image with a transparent background – which actually looks like a bunch of light grey and dark grey squares.
To get rid of the marching ants just click outside of the screen or go to ‘select’ then click on ‘none’.
To save the image with a transparent background you need to save it in a format that can handle not having a background (.jpg doesn’t handle transparent backgrounds). I recommend first saving in GIMP’s native .xcf then saving as a .png file which is compatible with most other programs. Saving as a .xcf file means that you can come back and play with it easily in GIMP.
That’s how to cut out and image using GIMP – easy!