How to Watermark Your Digital Art and Photography in Photoshop

There’s a lot of question and debate over effectiveness of watermarking digital art or photography. Some people think you can use them legitimately as an anti-theft mechanism, making it harder for people to rip off your hard-worked art. These people typically use large watermarks that cover a large portion of the image which – many people argue – ruins the viewing experience.

Others watermark for branding purposes, so that viewers will be able to identify their art even if it’s being reposted on another site or blog. These watermarks are usually tucked into a corner of the image (or even put on a virtual "frame" outside the actual image) and are often translucent, as not to take away from the image itself. Whatever type of watermark you decide is right for your work, this guide will help you construct a watermark and give it a set of actions that can be automated to apply to whole "batches" of folders.

Creating the Watermark

Before you jump into things, consider first:

What type of watermark you want for your images.

Whether it will cover the image or give it breathing space.

How big are the images that you plan to watermark.

After considering these, you can determine how big you need to make your watermark image and what design it will be. For this tutorial, I will be making a small credit to the image that will be translucent with surrounding white/light screening.

When you start designing the watermark, I recommend creating a black background with white text or vector graphics. The watermark for this guide will ultimately be a two-tone design, so designing with white over a black background works perfectly.

watermark BG.JPG

What I created was an extremely simple design with a name boxed by two lines and the border of the image. Of course, you will also want to tweak the font, the positioning of the text, and perhaps have less unused space below the text. In general, for watermarks, simplicity is a virtue and great for not taking attention away from the image.

Once you have the design the way you want it, take away the black background by clicking the box with the eye in it that’s circled in the image above (this allows the area around your watermark to be transparent). Just to tidy everything up, I select all layers once I’ve discarded the background, right click on the selected layers, and select "Merge Layers" as depicted below:

Now you just have to save the merged watermark. I prefer to save under the .PSD file format because doesn’t require you to rasterize layers, making the font and vector graphics scalable.

Creating an Action Set for Placing the Watermark

Once you have your watermark perfected and saved, it’s now time to create an action set so that the process of watermarking is streamlined and easy to perform. First you open any image to be your test image for watermarking. For this tutorial, I chose a free-licensed image from Wikipedia of a French town called Nyons. To have Photoshop record your actions, click on "Windows" on the top toolbar and "Actions" which will give you this:

You will see one folder filled with "Default Actions," but I recommend creating a new folder (Watermark) with a new action set (PlaceWatermark). When you’re ready, press the round button that circled above to start recorded your actions (it will turn red to indicate that it’s recording).

The first thing you’ll do after recording your actions is place the watermark onto the image by going to "File" and "Place…" This should place your watermark in the center of the image. To move it to a corner, select the layer with the watermark, click the "Layer" menu, move your cursor over "Align," and select "Bottom Edges" and "Right Edges" as demonstrated below:

Now that your watermark is in the correct position on the image, it’s time to get fancy. Selecting the watermark layer, flick on the "fx" option at the bottom of the layers window and select "Blending Options…" A new window will pop up, and you will want it to have the following specifications (this makes the text and vector graphics transparent):

After setting the Fill Opacity to 0%, click on "Drop Shadow." The most important thing that you do here is change the "Blend Mode" to "Lighten" and change the base color from black to white. This gives the white glow around the translucent watermark. You can change the "Distance," "Spread," and "Size" to my specification or experiment around with it to your personal liking.

Once you’re happy with you watermark and its surrounding glow, you can now flatten the layers, resize the image (if desired), and "Save As" whatever filetype and wherever you’d like. Be sure to press the square button in your actions window to stop recording actions. My final actions set looked like this:

Batch Processing Your Watermark on an Entire Folder

Provided you’ve recorded all of your actions properly, batch processing is surprisingly simple. Click on "File," "Automate," and "Batch…" to open the prompt:

Then just choose the Watermark action set, the source folder (the folder of images you’d like to watermark), and the destination folder (the folder you would like the newly modified and watermarked images to go). Also check the "Override Action "Save As" commands, so that it saves to your destination folder rather than wherever you saved in your action set. After doing all of this, you will be batch processing your watermark on all of your images in minutes.


This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for best online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99

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