Changing the Color of a Background in a Picture

by Kevin Lee
Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If your background image is red and you'd rather see a blue one, swap those colors using a color-picker tool. Paint, the free image-editing program that comes with Windows, has a Pick Color tool that can identify your picture’s background color accurately. After it does, use a few additional tools to paint over the original background using a color that enhances your picture.

Step 1

Press "Windows," type "Paint" and click "Paint" to launch the Paint program. Press "Ctrl-O" and double-click the image file you'd like to update. Click "Home" and then click the "Pick Color" tool, which is shaped like an eyedropper.

Step 2

Click the image's background color and note that Paint changes the color of the "Color 1" square to match that color. That color becomes the one Paint uses when you use another tool to paint.

Step 3

Move to the Colors section and click the color you'd like to use to replace the existing background color. Paint changes the color of the "Color 1" square to match the color you choose.

Step 4

Click the "Fill with Color" tool shaped like a paint bucket. Click the image's background color and Paint replaces most of that color with the new color you selected. Paint will probably leave a little of the original color around the image's objects. For instance, if you replaced yellow with green, you may still see a yellow outline around people and objects in the image.

Step 5

Click "Brushes" and then click the "Brush" tool. Click "Size" to view several lines that have varying widths. Click one of the lines to select it. For instance, if you click the "3px" line, your brush strokes will be 3 pixels wide.

Step 6

Click any part of the original color that remains, hold down your left mouse button and drag the mouse to paint over that color using the new color. If you you need to work on a small area, such as between someone's fingers, click "View" and then click "Zoom In" to make that area larger so you can see individual pixels. You may need to select a smaller brush size when you paint in these types of detailed areas.

Click "File," click "Save As" and type the name you'd like to call the new image in the "File Name" text box. Click "Save" to save it.


  • These steps describe working with Paint in Windows 8. Steps may vary slightly or significantly if you use the Paint program in other Windows versions.


  • When you paint in large areas, use the largest brush possible to work faster. Press "Ctrl" and your numeric keypad’s "+" sign if you'd like to make a brush bigger than 8 pixels.
  • When you paint in smaller areas, you may want to select the "Natural Pencil" brush instead of the regular one. The Natural Pencil brush is smaller and you'll find it easier to use in tiny places. Press "Ctrl" and your numeric keypad's "-" key to make a brush smaller.
  • If you don't see a replacement color you like in the Colors section, click "Edit Colors," click a color you'd rather use and then click "Add to Custom Colors." Paint adds that new color to the Colors section in the main window. Click that color to use it as the replacement color.
  • It's not difficult to paint over areas that aren't close to an object. However, use extra care when you paint around a person or any other object in the picture. In detailed areas, such as around someone's ears, you may have to choose a smaller brush size. Instead of moving your mouse to draw, you can also hold your cursor over a point you'd like to paint and click that point to apply a small dab of paint there. If you make a mistake, press "Ctrl-Z" to erase what you did and try again. With a little patience, you'll create a professional-looking image that has an entirely new background.


Photo Credits

  • Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

After majoring in physics, Kevin Lee began writing professionally in 1989 when, as a software developer, he also created technical articles for the Johnson Space Center. Today this urban Texas cowboy continues to crank out high-quality software as well as non-technical articles covering a multitude of diverse topics ranging from gaming to current affairs.

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