How to Add a Watermark in Photoshop

In this tutorial, we look at how to add a watermark in Photoshop. This approach to adding a watermark works with any photograph or image and allows you to apply other special effects.

In the tutorial we cover:

  • Creating a watermark with text and/or special symbols like ©.
  • Adding a watermark using a logo graphic.
  • Positioning and sizing your watermark.
  • Adding special effects to your watermark.

We also look at how to save your original image using Photoshop, so you can quickly remove or duplicate the watermark.

Why Add a Watermark

There are lots of reasons why you might want to create and add watermarks to an image. In the past, many photographers watermarked their images to prevent people from stealing them, to include on their own websites.

If this is your approach and thinking, I would respectfully suggest you reconsider. A small watermark won’t prevent anyone from using your work. It’s often easy to remove a watermark by cropping it out. Alternatively, the Photoshop repair tools will do a great job of removing an unwanted watermark unless it’s large or positioned across key content. But if you do this, you risk ruining the photo and prevent others from enjoying it.

Whilst there may still be an argument for protecting so photos in this way, today, adding a watermark can be a way to promote your brand. Many users of photo sharing sites and social media now use a watermark to add their logo or contact information. For example, if you visit my YouTube channel, you’ll see that I add a watermark to my video thumbnails using my logo. People then begin to recognise my logo and brand.

Before adding watermarks to all your photography though, take a moment to think about why you want to do this. When you understand what you’re trying to achieve, it helps you decide on the form, size and position of any watermark you add. Let’s have a look at a few examples of how to add a watermark in Photoshop.

Adding a Copyright Notice

Let’s start by using Photoshop to watermark an image with the word Copyright. You can see the starting image below.

Configure the Text Tool

Now select the text tool from the Photoshop Tools Palette on the left of the interface. The Text tool has an icon showing the letter T. If you can’t immediately see this, it’s possible you have one of the other tools in the same group selected. You can see the Text tool and the other tools in the group, in the following screenshot.

Be sure you have the Text tool selected and not one of the other tools. If a different tool is visible, you can right-click on the icon to select another.

When the Text tool’s selected, you will see the Context Sensitive toolbar along the top of the interface change. This displays the settings you can use with the Text tool such as the font. You can see an example of this in the following screenshot.

In the toolbar set the colour, size and font you want to use for your watermark. Don’t worry too much about getting this right now as you can change it later.

Add your Watermark Text

After selecting the settings for your text, position your mouse over the image and click where you want to add the watermark. Depending on your version of Photoshop you will see either a cursor or the highlighted text “Lorem Ipsum”. You can now enter your text “Copyright” to use for the watermark, as in the following screenshot.

If you check the Layers window in Photoshop, you’ll see the new text layer you’ve created (1) in the screenshot below.

There are now a couple of ways to convert your text into a watermark:

  1. Reduce the opacity of the Copyright layer (see box number 2). This causes your text to become transparent. The lower the Opacity, the more the image shows through the text.
  2. Change the Blending Mode for the Copyright layer to “Soft Light”. This creates a similar effect to changing the Opacity of the layer.

You now have a realistic watermark added to your image, like the example below.

Adding a Copyright Symbol

If you want to add a Copyright symbol © to your image it’s also easy to do. One way is to copy the © symbol from the text in a word processor and paste it in as a new text layer in Photoshop. But there is an even simpler method in Photoshop.

Start by selecting the Custom Shape tool from the Photoshop Tools Palette. You can see the Custom Shape tool in the screenshot below.

Notice the Custom Shape tool is part of a group of tools for drawing shapes. If you can’t immediately see it, you may have one of the other tools visible instead.

With the tool selected, go to the Context Sensitive Toolbar. To the right side of this, you will find a small drop-down listing the shapes you can create, including the Copyright symbol. Select the symbol and then click and drag out the shape on the image.

When you release your mouse button, you’ll see the symbol appear on a new layer in the Photoshop Layers window. You can then set the Opacity or Blending Mode of the new layer to create the watermark effect.

With your watermarks in place, let’s look at an easy way to position and resize them.

Position and Size Your Watermark

The position and size of any watermark you add in Photoshop is important. As mentioned earlier, you need to understand your reason for adding a watermark, to decide what it should look like.

Continuing with our example, the easiest way to move and resize any watermark is using the Photoshop Move Tool. You can find this in the Tools Palette on the left of the screen. It looks like a cross with arrows at the end of each arm and is part of a group.

With the Move tool selected, click on your watermark layer in the Layers window. You will see a box appear around the text or symbol, with a small square in each corner and along the edges. We call these resizing handles because you can click and drag them with your mouse to resize the box.

If you click in the centre of the box rather than on a resizing handle, you can drag the box. This allows you to reposition your watermark rather than resizing it.

If you move your mouse pointer just outside the box at one of the corners, you will see its shape change. You can click and drag to rotate the watermark, as in the example below.

Let’s now look at an example of adding a watermark using a graphic.

Adding a Watermark Using Graphics

To add a watermark from a graphic in Photoshop is also easy. For this example, I’ll use my Lenscraft logo.

Start by opening the image you want to watermark in Photoshop as well as the graphic to use for the watermark.

Select the image for the watermark by pressing Command + A on your keyboard (Mac), or Ctrl + A (PC). You can then copy the graphic using the Edit Menu, or Command + C (Mac) or Ctrl + C (PC).

Switch now to edit the image you want to add the watermark to and paste in the watermark. You can do this by selecting “Edit | Paste” from the menu or using the keyboard shortcut Command + V (Mac) or Ctrl + V (PC).

This adds a new layer containing the watermark graphic. You can then set the layer Opacity or Blending Mode to create the watermark effect. Depending on the content and colours in your watermark, you might find lowering the Opacity is better than changing the blending mode.

Watermark Special Effects

Having added your watermark, it’s time to think about special effects you may want to add. An example of this is adding a drop shadow effect.

Start by selecting the watermark layer in the layers window by clicking the layer. Now select the “fx” icon at the bottom of the Layers window. You can see this indicated in the screenshot below.

You then see a popup menu showing the different effects you can add to a layer including the Drop Shadow option. Select the option for the effect you want to add from the menu.

This will display a dialog where you can configure the effect you’re adding. You can then click the OK button to apply the settings and effect. You then see the effect added beneath the watermark layer in the Layers window. Here’s an example with the Drop Shadow and Emboss effects added.

Having added your watermark in Photoshop, it’s time to save your image.

Saving Images with Watermarks

Saving your image correctly with a watermark is very important. You need to create at least two versions of the image. One has the watermark that you can’t remove whilst the other has a watermark you can turn on and off. The first image is the one you will publish whilst the second image is what we call the master copy. This second image enables you to produce other watermarked images as you need.

In this tutorial, we’ve looked at ways to add a watermark to an image where the watermarks on a separate layer. This gives you control of the watermark and allowed you to add special effects. To preserve this, it’s important you save your photo in the Photoshop PSD format. This keeps all the layers in place and allows you to adjust or even hide them in the future. This is then your master copy of the image.

When you want to produce a watermarked image, you can resize your master file and save it in the JPEG format. Saving the image in the JPEG format flattens all the layers, applying the watermark permanently to the image.

But there’s another benefit when you save your watermark on a separate layer in an image. Let’s look at that next.

Quickly Reproducing a Watermark

Once you’ve created a watermark as a layer in one image, it becomes very easy to reproduce in other images. To do this, open the Photoshop file for the image with the watermark and the image you want to add a watermark to.

Choose the Photoshop Move Tool from the Photoshop tools palette. You can then select the watermark layer in your image containing the watermark to duplicate.

Holding down your Option key (Mac) or Alt key (PC), click on the watermark layer and drag it. As you drag, continue to hold the Option/Alt key and position the mouse pointer over the tab for the second image. When you hold the mouse over the tab for the other image, Photoshop will switch to that image and you can position the watermark. When the watermark’s in position, release the mouse.

You’ve now reproduced your watermark, adding it to the second image.

Summary

In this tutorial, we’ve looked at how to add a watermark in Photoshop. Importantly, we’ve also covered the importance of understanding why you want to add a watermark as this dictates the type of watermark you add. Using the advice in this tutorial should allow you to standardise and quickly duplicate a watermark to other images. This, in turn, helps others recognise your brand.

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