How To Make Background Black or White in Snapseed

This tutorial will walk you through how to change the background color to 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 pop of color 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.

This neat trick is simple and can be accomplished with the following steps:

Step 1

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.

Step 2

Select ‘Tools’ and tap on ‘Black & White’ from the menu of tools that appear.

Step 3

Select Neutral for the tone. This will turn the entire image monochrome.

Step 4

Select the checkmark to accept.

Step 5

Select the Layers icon at the top of the main screen, next to the ‘i.’

Step 6

Select View Edits at the bottom and select the Black & White edit you made just now.

Step 7

Tap ‘Black & White’ in the menu on the lower right-hand side.

Step 8

Tap the paintbrush icon located in the center of the pop-out menu.

Step 9

Select the Invert tool icon next to the ‘X’ and reduce black and white to 0.

Step 10

Select the Mask icon. This will turn the whole image a red color.

Step 11

Use your finger to trace outside the image subject to bring its original color back.

Once complete, tap the checkmark in the lower right-hand corner and save as a copy to your device.

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.

Both similar in practice, you may find another easier way by playing with the Tools within Snapseed. Depending on how complicated the subject is, it may be more difficult to create the perfect edges and lines needed for your photo. Either way, you end up with a black and white background with a color subject, which is the effect we’re going for.

How many edits can I make?

Fortunately, Snapseed is free and unlimited. You can upload a single edited photo several times to achieve the perfect look. For example, if Snapseed’s brightening tool isn’t bright enough, go to the max, save a copy, and brighten it again.

Can I make a photo collage in Snapseed?

Although the photo collage isn’t native to the Snapseed app, you can use the double exposure option to group photos and mimic collages.

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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