Create a Watermark with Photoshop

Some people think they are invaluable whilst others hate them. Whatever your thoughts, there may become a time where you need to know how to add a watermark with Photoshop to your images. Photoshop is an easy and flexible tool to do this with once you understand the process.

Why Add a Watermark

The reason most people want to add a watermark to their images is for security. They don’t want people copying their work and passing it off as their own, or they want to prevent people using their photos without payment.

If you fall into this way of thinking I have news for you. A small watermark won’t prevent anyone from using your work. They are easy to remove by either cropping the image or using the Photoshop repair tools. But make the watermark larger and you will ruin the aesthetics of the image and prevent people from enjoying your work.

Example watermark created in photoshop

Example watermark created in photoshop

There are legitimate cases where you might want to watermark an image to prevent its use such as when offering proof copies of your work to a client for them to make a selection. This though is very different to watermarking your images for sharing on the internet.

My own approach is not to watermark my work and I have only ever found one instance of someone trying to pass off one of my images as their own (my copyright notice was still embedded in the image EXIF data). By contrast I have been contacted quite a few times by people who would like to use my images or in some cases buy a print.

This points to a further reason that you might want to consider watermarking your images and that is to advertise your work and/or website. A watermark can help people find you. Such watermarks need to be informative and not detract from the image itself.

Creating the Watermark

Once you are clear why you want to add a watermark to your photography it will help you make decisions about the size, prominence and placement of the mark. Assuming you have decided on this you are ready to add the watermark using the following steps.

  1. Open the image to be watermarked in Photoshop.
  2. Select the Text Tool from the Tools and set the colour to black or white. You can always change it later.
  3. Click on the image where you would like to add your watermark and enter the text. This will add a new text layer that you will see in the Layers window. Once you have added the text you will be able to reposition it using the Move tool. You can see an example below of the watermark text having been added to the image as a new layer.

    Adding a new text layer in photoshop for the watermark

    Adding a new text layer in photoshop for the watermark

  4. Change the Blending mode for the layer (in the Layers window) to Screen. As the text of the watermark is white, the Screen blending mode will lighten the area of the image below the text. You can also experiment with some of the other blending modes as they can produce interesting effects depending on the colour of your text and the image.

    Layer settings in photoshop for the watermark

    Layer settings in photoshop for the watermark

  5. Changing the blending mode to Screen still leaves the text appearing white. To make the text appear translucent change the Opacity level to around 50%.
  6. Sometimes you might want to add special effects to the watermark such as a drop shadow. These options can be found in the Blending Options dialog which can be accessed by right clicking on the right side of the Layer in the Layers window. You can see an example screenshot below.

    Layer Style dialog in photoshop

    Layer Style dialog in photoshop

  7. Here you can see the drop shadow being set but there are many other options on the left side of the dialog that you can experiment with.

Finished image with watermark

Finished image with watermark

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