Love them or hate them, a watermark is a quick and easy way to stamp your property on the photos you share on the Internet. While they’re certainly not foolproof, watermarks make it easier to prove that photo thieves knew they were stealing when they took your photo. This tutorial explains how to watermark your photos. It uses Photoshop Elements 10 as an example, but it should work in any version or program that allows for layers.
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Create a new layer
Create a new blank layer with a photo open in full editing mode. You can do this through the Layer menu or with the shortcut Shift-Cmnd-N on a Mac or Shift-Ctrl-N on a PC. We will add the current watermark to this new blank layer so that we can easily manipulate it without changing the underlying image.
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Create the text
Now is the time to actually add your text or design for the watermark. The watermark can be plain text or text plus the copyright symbol: Alt + 0169 on a PC or opt-G on a Mac. It can be a shape, logo, or a combination of these. If you have a custom brush defined with your text, use it now. Otherwise, type the text. I used a strong font with my name and copyright symbol for this tutorial. You can use any color, but different colors show better and blend better on certain photos.
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Create the Emboss
Although watermarks can be as simple as a logo on a photo, many people use an embossed effect that looks almost transparent. This can make the photo easier to see, while still preventing the photo from being printed.
Start by changing the blend style of the layer to soft light. The amount of transparency varies based on the font style and original color of the text – 50 percent gray is the most transparent.
Then select a bevel style for the watermark. This depends on personal preferences. I usually prefer a simple outer or simpler inner bevel. You can further adjust the visibility of the watermark by changing the opacity of the text layer.
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Some thoughts on the use and placement of the watermark
There is a rather vocal movement on the Internet that denounces the use of any watermark on images, claiming that it “spoils” them and they don’t stop stealing. I’ve even seen some go so far as to tell photographers to “get off the Internet” if they don’t want their images to be stolen.
Do not listen to them. While watermarks don’t prevent theft, they are like the VIN number on your car. They are identifying the signs that help you prove that not only is the image yours, but the thief knew it was yours. Watermarks can also act as advertisements. Your website address on the watermark can lead potential customers to your site.
Watermarks don’t have to go through the main part of the image like I did in this example. Choose a corner for your logo where it would be difficult to simply crop the photo to remove it.
Ultimately, the choice of where to place the watermark or whether to use one is yours. Don’t let snobbish internet trolls get you down on what you decide.