To change the background color of a photo, you need three things; your photo, the means to remove the background, and the ability to add a new background (change the color).
Like most posts, the specific question could lead to a few different needs and potential outcomes, so here is my best shot at answering with a solution that has worked for me. If you have additional questions or needs, feel free to use the comments and I’ll do my best to address!
How to change the background color of a photo
1. Upload Your Photo
Regardless of which program you’re using to edit the background of the photo, you need it uploaded or “added” to wherever you’re going to be doing the editing.
So, if it’s a simple browser-based solution, you’ll need to upload the photo to the tool in question in order to remove the background. if it’s a tool like Photoshop, then you simply need to have the photo saved on your computer in order to import.
Today, my tool is Canva, and with this example, I’ve uploaded a photo of this dog.
2. Make a Copy of the Photo
You’re going to want to add a copy of the photo to your project. You can do this at any time, but I find it helpful to have everything planned and plotted out beforehand.
3. Remove the Background
Now, when it comes to changing the background color of your photo, do you need to change the color of the actual elements, or do you need to swap out the entire background?
With this example, in both instances, you’ll need to now remove the background from the photo. In other words, you’re separating the main image in the foreground from the background.
There are a number of tools that can remove the background. Again, I prefer Canva because it has everything else I need for this project and other design projects.
So, with the first copy of your photo, to remove the background, you will need to be a Canva Pro user, which you can you free for 30 days.
Once you’re in, upload your photo by going to “uploads” on the left toolbar and then clicking to “upload an image or video.” Select your image to upload, and it should appear shortly.
As you can see, I’ve uploaded a photo of a cute dog, and now, to remove the background, I go to “effects” and then “background remover”
(Here is an entire post on how to remove the background in Canva.)
Once you click that button, you’ll now see the same photo, but with the background removed, or, a “white” background.
4. Download as a PNG
Once you’ve removed the background from this copy of the photo, you’re going to need to download it as a PNG with a transparent background.
This transparent background is key, because in doing so, you’ll have an image you can place anywhere and on top of any background. This is in comparison to just downloading the image as a JPG, which would carry through the white background, and wouldn’t allow you to place in on top of another background.
To download as a PNG, simply go to “download” and then make sure PNG is selected for the file type. Then, be sure to also check the “transparent background” box, and then download.
(More on transparent image backgrounds.)
5. Upload New PNG
Now, while it might seem tedious, a necessary step is to now upload the transparent PNG you just downloaded back into Canva. You do this just as you would upload any other photo as explained in step 1.
You’re going to put all of this to “the side” for now while we work with the second copy of the photo.
6. Change the Background Color
Now, using the second copy of the photo, you’re going to change the color. (You can either do this step before the previous; it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that with your two photo copies, one has the background color changed and the other has the background completely removed.)
To change the background color in Canva, you have a few options. You can either adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, tint, and more through “adjust,” or you can apply a filter with a different color via “filter,” or, you can go to “effects” and choose one of the duotone options.
For this example, I’m choosing a duotone option, and then making some adjustments to achieve more of a pink.
7. Place PNG on New Background
So now you should have two main pieces—one PNG without a background (transparent) and two, a background with a different color.
So, scroll to your colored background page and then, from your “uploads” panel, select the transparent PNG for placement on top. Drag to resize the PNG so that it covers the original main image.
As you can see, you’ll have the original color with a different color background!
Now, perhaps you’re wanting a completely different background entirely, and not really a different color on the existing background, but a different. The good news is, you’re already at the point of being able to do so since you’ve already removed the background.
So, either go back to the original photo and remove the background again, or, find the previous step where you removed the background. No matter how you get there, you’re going to want to have something that looks like what I have below:
From here, go to “background” on the left tool panel and then choose a color for an easy color fill!
You can also add a pattern, gradient, or different photo background for a new, themed look. Really, once you remove the background, the opportunities are endless!
And that’s it! Best of luck with your backgrounds.