Everything You Need to Know About Removing Photo Backgrounds with GIMP

As image editing grows more ubiquitous thanks to camera phones and social media, there‘s one skill that often still feels out of reach: cleanly cutting out photo backgrounds. Products shots without backgrounds boost conversions. Creators want to photoshop themselves into exotic destinations. The applications are endless.

But specialized software like Photoshop costs big bucks, and attempts in other apps often end up looking amateurish despite hours of frustration. Is perfectly removing backgrounds simply unattainable without breaking the bank?

Not a chance. As a professional photographer and photo editor for 15+ years, I swear by an open-source program called GIMP that enables the exact same cutout capabilities for zero dollars.

In fact, GIMP can perform 90% of what the average Photoshop user needs at an absolute fraction of the cost. I‘ll prove it by walking you through isolating a subject from its background start-to-finish using GIMP‘s powerful chromakeying tools.

By the end, you‘ll be able to pluck subjects out of photos flawlessly like the visual wizards at major movie studios. Let‘s dive in!

Why Image Background Removal Matters

Before getting to the tutorial itself, it‘s worth exploring why cleanly removing photo backgrounds has become such a coveted art form. Manipulating images is nothing new, but consumer technology and Internet growth have elevated it to unprecedented levels.

Some numbers that highlight the massive rise of image editing:

  • 80 billion photos and videos shared online in 2021 alone
  • Over 60% of marketing emails now integrate imagery
  • Image posts see 2X more engagement on social media
  • 65% faster article reads when featuring visuals
  • Image search makes up over 50% of all web searches

And this is just the macro trend. On an individual level, everyday smartphone owners are taking advantage too:

  • Background removal to create virtual Zoom backgrounds
  • Cutting out subjects for graphic design projects
  • For ecommerce sites to display products cleanly
  • To Photoshop friends into missed group pics
  • Or even sky replacement in their own landscape photography!

The standard has clearly risen from crude cut-and-paste jobs to seamless, professional effects. As we‘ll discover with GIMP, much of this power is attainable without costly subscriptions or frustrating freemium apps.

Shall we give it a go?

Getting Started with GIMP‘s Powerful Toolset

GIMP originally stood for "GNU Image Manipulation Program" when it launched way back in 1996…

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