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How To Make Background Black or White in Snapseed

Posted by Jamie on July 7, 2019

This tutorial will walk you through how to background black or white in Snapseed while leaving the image subject in color. It’s a popular trick that can be used in monochrome or using subdued color for the background while leaving the subject in follow color or brightness. It adds atmosphere while also allowing the subject to really stand out.

Snapseed is a powerful image editor for Android and iOS that really should be a lot more expensive than it is. For a totally free app, it outperforms many of the other image editors I have tried, including some premium ones from the big names. One neat trick when creating images is creating a monochrome setting with a color pop for the image subject.

Make background black or white in Snapseed

The technique we’re going to use is called Selective Coloring and uses a couple of tools within Snapseed to create a very powerful effect. We will make the background black or white in Snapseed and then the color of the subject will stand out a whole lot more.

Select an image you want to edit and save a copy. Snapseed will overwrite the original unless you remember to select Save As. If it’s a valuable or meaningful image, I think it’s easier to manually make a copy first.

Then:

  1. Open the image you want to edit in Snapseed.
  2. Select Tools and Black & White and select Neutral for the tone. This will turn the entire image monochrome.
  3. Select the checkmark to accept.
  4. Select the Layers icon at the top of the main screen, next to the i.
  5. Select View Edits at the bottom and select the Black & White edit you made just now.
  6. Select the brush icon in the center of the slider menu that appears.
  7. Select the Invert tool next to the ‘X’ and reduce black and white to 0.
  8. Select the Mask icon. This will turn the whole image a red color.
  9. Use your finger to trace outside the image subject to bring its original color back.
  10. Select the checkmark to commit once done.
  11. Select Save As to save as a copy.

There are a lot of steps in this process but if you follow them exactly, you should end up with a monochrome image with the subject in full color. Don’t worry when the screen turns red, that’s just to highlight the areas being turned into black and white.

You’re going to have to zoom in and out to trace the outline of your subject and this will take a while. It is worth taking your time over and getting it right so your end result is much more effective.

Another way to make monochrome backgrounds in Snapseed

There is another way to achieve the same end result within Snapseed where you trace the subject but use Black & White to achieve the effect.

  1. Open the image you want to edit in Snapseed.
  2. Select Tools and Black & White and select Neutral for the tone.
  3. Select the checkmark.
  4. Select the Layer Settings icon at the top and the View Edits option on the new menu.
  5. Select Black & White from the edits menu and the brush icon in the center.
  6. Set Black & White to 100 in the center of the pane and draw the mask over the subject where you want to see color.
  7. Select the Invert tool at the bottom of the screen and select the checkmark.

You should now see the same result as above. An image with a black and white background and subject in full color. Tracing the subject takes a lot of patience and a sure finger to trace but your effort will be rewarded with a much better quality image at the end.

Optionally, once you have saved your image, you can try the HDR Scape tool to give the image a little more zing. This can add real character to the image and uses a slider so you can vary the intensity of the changes. This may or may not work depending on your image but is worth experimenting with while you’re in Snapseed.

There are likely other ways to achieve the same end result both those are the two ways I know of. Both similar in practice but you may find one easier than the other depending on how complicated the subject is. Either way, you end up with a black and white background with a color subject, which is the effect we’re going for.

Know of any other ways to make the background black or white in Snapseed while keeping the subject in full color? Tell us about it below if you do!

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