A common problem that may occur when taking photos is represented by the fact that a photo has a great subject but an awful background. The background may be over-exposed, may have an ugly color or maybe you just don’t like it and you want to change it. What can you to do to remedy this?

Don’t fret much, because there are some ways to change the background of a picture or a photo without having to do laborious steps. There are online, offline, paid or free applications which will help you through the entire process. This article provides some detailed guides of how to remove or change backgrounds of a picture.

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Change the background with software applications

An image editing software is a collection of different programs that enables a user to manipulate images right on his PC. Thanks to them, magic can happen to ordinary photos, from simple corrections or adjustments, such as setting contrast or brightness, to complex editing, such as removing imperfections from a picture.

Using Microsoft Paint

Microsoft Paint

Microsoft Paint is a simple graphics application which has been included in all Windows versions. It has only basic operations, such as magnifier, pencil, brush text and others. Its simplicity, easiness and rapidness recommend it as one of the most used programs from all Windows operating systems.

To resolve the background problem with Paint you have to know that it supports only BMP, JPEG and GIF formats. After choosing the photo, follow this guide:

  1. Open the application and select “Open” under “File” and browse to the picture. Also, you can right click on it and select Paint under “Open with”.
  2. If the image is too large for your screen, adjust its zooming options by dragging the slider from the bottom right side until the picture fits.
  3. Go to the color palette, which is usually set in the top of the screen, and select the lime color as color 1 and color 2.
  4. Next, select the polygon tool and begin to outline the subject which has to be cut off from the picture. Do this around the image and back to the starting point until the subject of interest is outlined.
  5. When finished, click on the “Fill” tool, choose the solid option and the whole background will transform to a lime one. After, the color can be changed with the same tool, just select the preferred color and fill the lime background with it.
  6. To overlap it to another picture, make the background white and press CTRL+A to select the whole picture.
  7. Copy it (CTRL+C) and open in Paint the other picture which will represent the background.
  8. Paste it (CTRL+P) and go to the selection options, which can be found in the Image subcategory from the main menu, where you have to select “Transparent selection”.
  9. Resize it and move it around the picture until the desired photo will be obtained.
  10. Save it and enjoy.

Unfortunately, this method may seem a little bit complicated, but it has the big advantage that the program is available for free for all Windows users and no other additional fees have to be supported.

Using Adobe Photoshop

photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is probably the best picture editor on the market that is used in the professional zone. This software can do almost all you can imagine, from just making basic editing operations to creating a new graphic from scratch. There are different methods to do this in Photoshop, but I will present the one that I think it’s easier. So, just follow the next guide:

  1. Open your photo and click on the Pen tool which is placed on the left side of the screen. Different options will appear on the top menu and select the “paths” one.
  2. With the tool selected start left clicking from one edge to the other. This will set the outline of your desired object.
  3. When the points are placed on the outline, press again on the first selection so that you close the loop and realize the selection. When crossing the cursor over the first point a little circle must appear which will confirm that the above operation will happen.
  4. After, the points will disappear and a very fine line will appear instead of them. To be able to work with the selection, press the “Rectangular Marquee” tool from the left panel, right click anywhere inside the picture and select “make selection”.
  5. When asked about the feather radius, choose 1px and after you will see the selection outlined by the familiar “running ants” mode.
  6. Press the delete button from keyboard and further, select the background color to white.

The desired part from the image should remain and the background should be pure white.

  1. Press CTRL+A to select everything and CTRL+C to copy it.
  2. Open the image with the background and press CTRL+V to paste the first one onto it.
  3. Move it to the desired place and that’s it.
  4. Some adjustments can be done in case the edges have colors from the last background. To do this, select the clone tool from the left panel, click on the edges and the colors will blend, creating a more realistic view.

Adobe Photoshop has a lot of tools and features and it’s a little bit complicated for the beginners. To buy it, you can start using Creative Cloud for $49.99 monthly that allows the use of all the CS6 collection tools. You can download your free trial from here as a stand-alone application or via the Creative Cloud service where you will have to make a free account.

Using Sumo Paint

sumo-paint

Sumo Paint is a very powerful customizable online graphics editor which has loads of different intuitive features. It allows customizing the toolset, choosing over 20 different languages, adding different filters or effects and so forth. With this online tool, one can also delete the background of a picture and to do this, just follow the next simple guide:

  1. First of all, access their site and start using the application for free.
  2. The application will load directly into the browser and then press “Open file from computer”. Browse to the picture’s location and open it. If it is too big for the screen, in the upper right-side you can change the zoom level to a lower one.
  3. Select the “Magic Wand” tool which is placed on the left side of the screen. This tool will look for similar colored pixels and select them.
  4. Now, click on the background you want to delete. You can click while holding the SHIFT button to add more parts to the selection. If the selection interferes with parts of your subject, go back to the Magic Wand’s options (see the top of the screen) and set a lower Tolerance.
  5. When all is selected, just press DELETE and the background will disappear.
  6. Now, you can select your remaining picture and copy it to the other one that has the desired background. Also, it can be used the “Paint Bucket Tool” to fill the blank background with other colors.

For adding more filters and to get rid of ads, developers created two different account types: pro ($9/month) and pro plus ($19/month). The latter also brings a desktop application for offline use.

Using Pixlr

Pixlr_editor

The Pixlr Editor is an online free graphics editor which permits you to do almost everything you can imagine with a picture, from cropping, resizing and fixing pictures to adding one of the 600 effects or personalizing it in complex ways. This application that runs in a simple browser represents a very good solution for the background problem. To resolve it with Pixlr Editor, follow the next steps:

  1. Access Pixlr Editor page.
  2. Choose “Open image from computer” and browse for your desired picture.
  3. Firstly, duplicate the photo by selecting “Duplicate layer” under the “Layer” menu from the top of the screen.
  4. Secondly, choose “Create new file” from the “File” menu. Now, drag and drop the duplicated layer, which can be found in the right side of the screen in the “Layers” category, to the newly created file. From now on we will work with the file that was just created.
  5. Choose the “Eraser Tool” and eliminate the background without getting close to the subject. Further, use the “Magic Wand Tool” to select the remaining parts and remove them with the DELETE button from your keyboard.
  6. Once the background is entirely deleted, open the other picture with the background and re-do the same step with the drag and drop on it.
  7. Move the subject to the desired position and that’s all, you have your subject on new background.

Besides Pixlr Editor, developers offer other applications too, such as Pixlr Express and Pixlr O-Matic which are also available for free to Android and iOS devices.


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Feature Writer

Alex holds an engineering degree in Telecommunications and has been covering technology as a writer since 2009. Customization is his middle name and he doesn’t like to own stock model gadgets. When he’s away from the keyboard, simpler things like hiking, mountain climbing and having a cold drink make his day.