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How to Add a Background Picture to a Tumblr Theme

Updated on January 04, 2015
Dreamhowl profile image

Dreamhowl is fluent in computer care, settings, and social networking. Her grasp of basic HTML makes theme tweaking a breeze!

About the Author

Dreamhowl is a Tumblr-user and enjoys tweaking and perfecting the themes on her social networks. After having no luck using photographs as her Tumblr background, she reverted to adorable background patterns of rats instead.

What is Tumblr?

Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking website where users can share text posts, photos, links, audio, video and more. A user’s blog can be private or public; public blogs can be followed by other Tumblr blogs. One Tumblr user can publish multiple blogs and post content to each from the dashboard without much confusion. The Tumblr website was founded in February 2007.

People make Tumblr blogs for a multitude of reasons. On Tumblr, you can find bloggers who write about fashion, food, art, animals, television, fandoms and more. Some Tumblr users share their own poetry and prose, while some share their personal artwork and fanfiction. It’s hard to not discover something you enjoy on Tumblr, and even harder not to gain followers (and friends!) in the process.

Customizing your Tumblr page can be a fun but time-consuming experience.
Customizing your Tumblr page can be a fun but time-consuming experience. | Source

What Are Tumblr Themes?

On Tumblr, users have the ability to decorate their blogs with themes. The Tumblr website hosts many blog themes for users to install, but be careful: not all of these themes are free to use. Exploring the “Free Themes” section will steer you clear of pay-to-use Tumblr themes. If you are up to paying for a Tumblr theme, feel free; pay-to-use Tumblr themes are labeled with a price on the top right corner of the theme’s preview.

Tumblr has many free and pay-to-use themes available on the site.
Tumblr has many free and pay-to-use themes available on the site. | Source

Many Tumblr users also make their own themes for others to use and post them on their specialized “theme blogs”. Most of the time, these themes are free to use, granted the user leaves the artist's credit in the theme’s HTML and doesn’t pass off an alteration of the Tumblr theme as their own. Theme creators will generally post a disclaimer about how you can use their Tumblr themes in full detail. If you are looking for a theme that has more customization options and is less generic, try searching for some user-created themes.

Many Tumblr users make their own themes and share them with other users.
Many Tumblr users make their own themes and share them with other users. | Source

Do you use a custom Tumblr theme?

See results

If you would like to install a custom Tumblr theme, you will need to edit the HTML of your current theme and replace the code with the new theme’s code. To make this possible, the theme’s creator will share a link to a webpage (such as pastebin) containing their theme’s code. You don’t need to worry about understanding HTML to change your Tumblr theme; when using a custom-made theme, you are only required to:

  • copy the theme’s coding
  • customize your theme
  • edit your theme’s HTML
  • replace the code with new code
  • update preview and save

Following these steps will replace the old theme’s code with your new theme. To view the theme properly and edit the minor details, you will need to save the new code and refresh your customization page. Only then will your new theme show up, along with included options to edit specific colors, backgrounds and more. If you don’t save your new theme, no changes will be made.

Editing your theme's HTML can be complicated, but replacing it is fairly simple.
Editing your theme's HTML can be complicated, but replacing it is fairly simple. | Source

Adding a Background to Your Tumblr Theme

Most Tumblr themes allow users to change the background picture of their blog. With simple, minimalistic theme designs, this is sometimes the only feature you can change about your blog. Changing your Tumblr background is simple - finding a background that looks good with your theme is the hard part. To upload a new background to your Tumblr theme, simply:

  • customize your theme
  • scroll down to “Background”
  • click upload and choose file
  • save and close your theme

When your upload a new background picture to your Tumblr blog, the preview will change to show you how it looks. Depending on the file size, your background picture may repeat itself and not appear on your Tumblr the way you had hoped. Unless you have a background picture large enough and proportionate to your screen’s resolution, using a random picture as a background may not work out.

Using photographs as your Tumblr background can result in unattractive overlap.
Using photographs as your Tumblr background can result in unattractive overlap. | Source

If you are having trouble finding a decent background picture, try looking on the internet instead of your computer; while it’s great to use your own unique pictures, the internet has many resources for Tumblr and general blog backgrounds. A good idea for a Tumblr background is a repeating pattern that looks natural when it overlaps. There are multiple resources for discovering background patterns on the web. If you can find one you like, it will flow more smoothly on your Tumblr blog than a choppy photograph.

A patterned image looks much better when overlapping on your blog's background.
A patterned image looks much better when overlapping on your blog's background. | Source

If you’d rather forego using a background for your Tumblr blog, you have the option of changing the background color instead. Altering your blog’s background color to match your theme is simple and creates a minimalistic look that compliments any theme. If your Tumblr theme is fairly customizable, you can change the colors of the theme’s borders, links, text, titles and more to match your background or background color. To change your background color:

  • customize your theme
  • scroll down to “Background”
  • click and alter the color
  • save and close your theme

Changing your Tumblr theme's background color is easy if you don't have a background.
Changing your Tumblr theme's background color is easy if you don't have a background. | Source

It may take a while before your Tumblr theme looks “just right,” especially if you are picky about the smaller details. In the end, only you know how you’d like your Tumblr page to look. When you find a background that looks just right, be sure to save it on your computer for future reference, especially if you change your Tumblr theme or background often. Saving your favorite patterns or background pictures in their own folder will help you find them again later, and even use them for other social networking websites. Have fun personalizing your Tumblr blog!

© 2013 Jessica Marello

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