How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

March 16, 2011 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | Comment | |
How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop Image

These days, no one seems to think twice about right-clicking on one of our photos and downloading them for their own purposes, whether as “pretty wallpaper” for their computer or the heading of their latest blog post.

The company I use to host my portfolio site, Smugmug, and a few others, have the options of right-click protection and you can watermark your photos directly from within Smugmug so that although one can’t right-click and steal your photo from the site, they could take a screenshot and steal it that way, but there will still be a watermark across the photo. 

Even if you aren’t like me and trying to make some money as a photographer by selling your photos, having your photo stolen is no fun. 

There are ways to protect your photos though, even if you don’t have a big website with the protections I mentioned, one of which, adding a copyright watermark, can be helpful in deterring all but the most determined thieves.  (Ultimately, even a watermark could be photoshopped out though.) 

This is a bit of a long tutorial, but at the end, I will be teaching you how to turn it into a Photoshop Action, so you can simply press one of the Function keys along the top of the keyboard in the future to add a custom watermark to your photos.  In fact, you can even add this watermark to an entire folder of your photos using a batch version of the action. 

1. Let’s start by opening a photo you’d like to put a copyright watermark on.  Make a layer via copy (see screen shot) or simply press Ctrl-J (for PC users) Command-J (for Mac users.)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

2. Get the Custom Shape Tool from the Toolbox panel or click Shift-U which will make it active.  It looks a bit like an amoeba or a very stubby starfish.  (see screen shots)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

3. Go to the Options Bar and click on the Fill Pixels icon (3rd from left), then click on the thumbnails to the right of the word “shape” to allow you to choose a shape.  When the menu opens, choose the copyright symbol (see screen shot)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

4. Now make a new blank layer:  click on the create new layer icon at the bottom of the layers panel. (see screen shot)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

5. Click on the foreground color swatch at the bottom of the toolbar and choose a light gray with the color picker.  Click Okay.  (see screen shot)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

6. Then, press and hold the shift key and take your custom shape tool and click and drag just above the center of your photo to add as large of a copyright symbol as you would like.  (see screen shot)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

7. Once it’s placed, click the Add a Layer Style icon at the layers panel bottom.  Choose Bevel and Emboss from the pop-up menu.  (see screen shot)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

8. The Layer Style dialog box will appear.  You don’t have to change anything - just click ok to apply a beveled effect to your copyright symbol.  Click OK to apply it to your symbol.  (see screen shot above)

9. Click on the Type Tool in the toolbar, making sure your Text color swatch in the options bar is close to the foreground color you chose for the copyright symbol.  Type your full name or business name and position it next to the copyright symbol using the Move Tool at the top of the toolbar.  You could also optionally type in “copyright, your name/business” and the year if you wanted, but this is simply how I chose to do it.  (see screen shot)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

10. Next, duplicate the Bevel and Emboss Layer Style and apply it to your new type layer.  To do that, just replicate what you did to get the effect in step 8.

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

11. In the Layers panel, press and hold the Control key (or Command for Macs) and click on the top two layers to select them.  Then, press Control-E (or Command-E for Macs) to merge these two layers into a single layer.  (see screen shot)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

12. Change the layer blend mode of the merged layer from Normal to Hard Light, making it transparent.  You can then lower the opacity of this layer so that it is less obtrusive, but no one would be able to use your image easily.  You can have it set at any amount of opacity you prefer - I have set mine at 13% here.  (see screen shots)

How to Create a Watermark in Photoshop

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photos, images, photo, photoshop, image, action, technique, techniques, protect, watermark, stolen, steal, theft, tutorial, copyright

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