How to Change Background and Remove Objects in Snapseed

Namrata Gogoi

In photography, things usually don't go as we intend them to. More often than not, we find an intruding element in our photos. Be it a tree, a small shrub or a mess of telephone wires, these elements will find a way to creep into photos and ruin them. The bottom line is, with so many distracting things around, one can only dream of getting a shot with a perfect background.

Change Background And Remove Objects In Snapseed

Thankfully, Snapseed lets you modify backgrounds of photos. What's more, it lets you remove certain objects from the background. While most of us usually use Snapseed to enhance the overall look of the image, what's surprising is that we can use the same tools to change the background. Though it's a time-taking process and requires a bit of patience, the end results are worth it.

Note: Snapseed doesn't let you switch the background entirely. Instead, we'd have to use a combination of certain tools to change the background to give it an artistic look.

Ready? So, here are the necessary steps.

1. Play with the Exposure of the Image

Step 1: Give the Image a Makeover

Before we get started on changing the background, give the image a makeover by adding a filter. I generally choose a filter that retains the natural tone of the image like the Accentuate filter.

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Screenshot 20180620 174539 Snapseed

Step 2: Lower the Exposure

Having done that, it's time to get rid of the distracting background. Start off by tapping on Tools and select the Brush tool.

Screenshot 20180620 174702 Snapseed
Screenshot 20180620 184051 Snapseed

Use the Exposure tool to darken the areas in the background. For the image above I used an exposure level between -0.7 and -1.0.

Gently drag your finger over the areas. For edges and intricate areas, magnify the image.

Cool Tip: If you make a mistake with your selection, simply press the Undo button at the top-left of the screen.

Step 3: Patch the Bright Spots

Though the Exposure Brush tackles the dark areas of the image quite well, it can't do much for the bright spots. For example, the TV in the background can't be tackled by the brush alone. If you have such areas in your photo, the Healing tool is your best bet.

Screenshot 20180620 174544 Snapseed Copy

It removes the unwanted elements by covering it with patches from the surrounding area. This tool has a slight catch, though. It can't work properly on images which have lots of colors.

We
Screenshot 20180620 175204 Snapseed

Touch continuously on the bright spots, until it's almost covered. Once done, polish it off with the help of the exposure tool. You may choose to keep the background slightly subtle or make it completely black. This, again, depends on your preference and on the photo.

Cool Tip: Magnify the image and use the Healing tool to even the edges between the subject and the background.

Once you finish touching up the photo, tap on the Tick icon and save it. The resulting image may not be flawless at the first try, but it will do the trick. 

2. Alternative Method: Selective Darkening

Another way to remove the background from an image is through the Selective tool. This tool lets you tweak a particular area by selectively adjusting the brightness, contrast, etc. However, unlike the above process, this would work on images that have a slightly dark background.

Step 1: First, remove the unnecessary distraction from the photo using the Healing tool. Mark small spots so that the patches are even and smooth. 

Step 2: Now, select the Selective tool and touch the background. Start from the outer edge.

Screenshot 20180620 174544 Snapseed
Change Background And Remove Objects In Snapseed 3

Tap on the background and use two fingers to increase/decrease the focus area. The areas marked red would be the ones that will get dark. The best thing about Snapseed is that the tools are intelligent enough to differentiate between the background and the foreground.

Step 3: Having done that, lower the brightness of the area by swiping left. Do this for all the points in your image until you arrive at your final outcome. 

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Change Background And Remove Objects In Snapseed 1

In my case, my photo had a bright green cover. However, after selective brightness reduction, the image had almost achieved the look I desired. I didn't want the dark green shades to disappear completely. But, if you want to achieve a darker background, you can use the Healing tool.

Change Background And Remove Objects In Snapseed 4

As I mentioned above, this method works better on backgrounds that have darker tones or if the image has a single object which you want to accentuate.

Which Method is Your Favorite?

So, this was how you can remove distracting objects and change the image background in Snapseed. Both the methods require equal efforts, but the end results are really worth the sweat. Of course, it doesn't have Photoshop-like end results, but I'm willing to make this compromise.

You can pick your method, depending on the composition of your image. So, the next time you come across a photo which doesn't have a pleasing background, give it an artistic twist with Snapseed.

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Namrata Gogoi

Written By

Namrata Gogoi

An engineer turned tech writer, Namrata used to write software codes before turning to a career in tech- writing. She is passionate about travelling, food and reading about cool new stuff. Apart from that, she holds a bachelors degree in I.T and hails from Guwahati.