I often get asked how to add a watermark to a photograph, especially by photographers who want to share their work online. A watermark is an opaque word or picture that is usually placed unobtrusively over an image, in order to ‘mark’ it as the photographer’s own work. Watermarks are more common online, and can be a great way for your ownership of an image to be recognised, as the watermark is part of the image (rather than a line of text beneath it).
Watermarking is not required to confirm your status as the image’s copyright owner; that happens automatically and instantly, as soon as you click the shutter. And don’t forget, that watermarks can easily be cropped out or removed from an image by a retoucher, so they are not a guaranteed way to stop people stealing your images.
In any case, watermarking is an easy way to put your stamp on your work. Let’s look at two different methods for adding a watermark to an image, using Photoshop.
Method One: Using Text
If you simply want to type out your name, and have the letters slightly see-through, this is the method for you.
Step 1: Open the image in Photoshop.
Step 2: Click on the ‘Text Tool’ to activate the cursor, then click and drag to create a text box. Type whatever you would like into that box. You can change your font, size, style, and colour by using the text menu that appears at the top of the screen. To move the text box around, press on the ‘Move Tool’ (at the top of the tools list), or press CMND T whilst the text layer is highlighted/active.
Step 3: Lower the opacity of the text layer by adjusting the opacity slider in the Layers panel. The exact opacity you choose depends on you. A lower opacity will make the text more see-through, and thus more subtle. A higher opacity makes it more obvious or noticeable.
Black text works best for light backgrounds, and white text works best for dark backgrounds. Here, I have used black text at a low opacity, because the white text may have been too subtle against the light background of the clouds.
Method Two: Using A Logo
Sometimes, using your name in Helvetica just won’t cut it, and you may rather use your logo to add to your brand awareness. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Once you have opened the image to be watermarked, also open your logo file. It is easiest if this logo is quite solid (ie: not a lot of tonal variation), and if it is black and white. The logo below has some colour, but we will learn how to best deal with that.
Step 2: Add the logo to your image as a new layer. There are many ways of doing this, but here are the three easiest;
Open the logo file, select all (CMND A), then copy (CMND C). Open the image file, and paste the logo into the file (CMND V).
Open both files side by side, then use the ‘Move Tool’ to click and drag the background layer of the logo onto the image (the large image, not the background layer.)
‘Place’ the logo by opening the image file, then going to File > Place, and selecting the logo. Press ‘enter’ to place the file once you have sized it.
Step 3: Adjust the blend mode of the logo. If your logo is black (or dark) on a white background, choose Multiply mode to show the logo, but hide the white background. If your logo is white (or light) on a black background, choose Screen mode to achieve the same result. Make sure that the logo layer is selected when choosing the blend mode. You can also select the layer with the logo and press CMND I to invert it, allowing you to place the same logo over a light or a dark area of the image.
Step 4: To turn a coloured (or partially coloured) logo into black and white (without desaturating the whole image), use one of the following methods.
a) Make sure the logo layer is selected, then choose;
Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or
Image > Adjustments > Black & White
Both of these options will turn only the logo to black and white. This is a destructive method, which means that once you do it, you cannot go back and make the logo coloured again.
b) Make a black and white adjustment layer above the logo layer. Then link that adjustment layer to the logo layer (which means it will only affect that layer.) To do this, choose the ‘Black & White’ adjustment layer from the Adjustment Layer menu, at the bottom of the layers panel.
Step 4a: Next, hover your cursor over the line that separates the logo layer from the black and white adjustment layer that you just made. Hold down the OPTION/ALT key, and the cursor will turn into a small box with a downward pointing arrow. Then, click, and the black and white layer will be linked to the logo layer.
Step 5: Lower the opacity of the layer as you see fit.
And there you have it! Your first watermarked image.