A Rose – Experimenting with GIMP

A pretty pink and yellow rose from my garden, shown on a black background which brings out the colours.

GIMP is a very powerful photo processing tool. Best of all it is FOSS (Free and Open Source Software). I have been using it for years, alongside XnView MP and Darktable, mainly to clean up photos and remove unwanted objects.

Over time, I have experimented with removing backgrounds and the like, but never really got to grips with it. Here’s an experiment targeted at my Redbubble store to separate a pretty rose from the background.

My plan was to create an image with a transparent background. On Redbubble this would allow me to upload the image as multiple different products and set the background for each. So just one image could create a few different options for the buyer. Although I had some knowledge on how to do this, I decided to check out a couple of tutorials online first.

GIMP Tutorials

Two tutorials came up. The one from Logos by Nick offered a few different options. I have watched a number of tutorials from Davies Media design, so also had a look at the tutorial on using the Foreground tool.

A Transparent Background

There was useful contrast I’m the image, so I opted to use the Logos by Nick option of using a layer mask. With a slight variation, based on existing knowledge. My approach was as follows:

  1. Decompose the image to LAB;
  2. Using the Luminance (L) channel, adjust the levels give me a white foreground object;
  3. Copy this image to a Layer Mask in the primary image;
  4. Delete the background;
  5. Save as a .png image – that is important as .jpg does not support transparency.

Here is the result

As a final result, it does not look fantastic – that is a work in progress, refining my technique to improve the edges. Put that on a background, and it looks a lot better.

And here it is as a floor pillow.

To see more, have a look at Redbubble: black background and green background.


For me, this opens many possibilities to use photos to create products online, which I have never delved into before, even though I knew the possibilities were there.

Although Photoshop is, without a doubt, the de facto standard for processing photos, GIMP is very powerful and should not be ignored, especially by the amateur photographer who does not want the cost of the Adobe product. It is said to have a steep learning curve, but there are many tutorials online to help.

For what it is worth, GIMP runs on Windows, Apple and Linux. I use Mint Linux.

And, of course, I could not resist putting the black background version on my other galleries as prints and other merchandise.

This photo is my galleries: have a look

Prints, giclée canvas prints, t-shirts and other merchandise:


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