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Tips & Tricks

The Best Way To Watermark Your Images With Photoshop

By Kishore Sawh on July 1st 2014


When I first heard of watermarks, it wasn’t in relation to photos, but instead on company letterhead. You’d see it on the legal documents from my parents’ companies, and on my school report card, much to my scheming chagrin. It may have something to do with why I generally associate watermarks with something dated. Perhaps. The reasoning behind using a watermark is in photography is a relatively apparent one; as protecting, intellectual property (imagery) is a greater and greater concern for people who produce in a time where technology is both friend and foe, and watermarking is a line of defense against those dark arts.

[REWIND: Make Your Own Sign Or Signature Into a Watermark in 10 Min (No Scanner Needed)]

As I’ve written about before, the chair of opinion on the matter, rocks back and forth on both the effectiveness of a watermark, and its practicality. Some see them as solely serving to distract and detract from the image, while others feel it’s great for name association. Some feel it’s entirely useless, and others just don’t seem to care.


Yet regardless of what side of the line in the sand you choose to be behind, there’s probably some validity to it, and I think most photographers have considered using watermarks at some time. If you’re going to use them, it’ll pay to know how to do it well, and Phlearn’s Aaron Nace, in rather typical friendly and informative fashion, demonstrates how to make a custom brush and use Photoshop to do just that.


Even if you’re not going to use the brush and watermark, as always, Aaron’s method of teaching guides you through steps and in the process shows you aspects of the program which you may want to use some other time. The approach also depicts ways you can manipulate the watermark since it is a brush, that you may not have thought of, such as changing its blending mode & opacity, or its color by sampling in the image.



Also don’t be put off by the seemingly daunting idea of ‘creating a brush.’ It’s far simpler than you may think. In fact, you may have to rewind that portion of the video to see it again because it happens to quickly.

If you like this, and would like to become quickly adept at Photoshop, I might suggest having a look around our site as we generally post tutorials like this often. And to have a look at the Phlearn Photoshop 101 & 201 as they are comprehensive and will have you doing things with Photoshop you may have otherwise thought too complex, or didn’t even know you could do.

Source: Phlearn YouTube

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    was searching for this one

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  2. Peter-Jon Harding

    I’ve Been using this tip for a while now and it works well

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  3. Genard Williams

    Phlearn never fails to deliver! Aaron is an absolute must watch every week!

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  4. Tyler Friesen

    Phlearn is awesome!

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  5. Michael Stagg

    Yo! I absolutely LOVE Phlearn tutorials! This has provided me with yet another way to watermark images. I’ve gone from using Lightroom to do it during export, to embedding the logo in PS CC and now this method (which is, by far the most flexible of the three!)! #AaronRocks!

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  6. Jeff Lopez

    Makes me wonder why I never thought of this before. I currently use a photoshop action to add and adjust the opacity of the watermark to 50%, but this might be faster. Thanks.

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    great one man helps to know a better way

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  8. Greg Faulkner

    Great tutorial

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  9. Servando Miramontes

    Very helpful vid!

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  10. Jared Stewart

    Love Phlearn. One of the best resources for Photoshop on YouTube.

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  11. David De Fotograaf

    Might I suggest using some form of embedding in the metadata of the picture itself? Like a copyright?
    Lightroom is capable of doing this. The problem is that if you don’t want to the watermark to be intrusive, they’ll find a way to remove it. Cloning, print screens, whatever it takes.
    The only last line of defense is the picture on your (backup) hard drive. With that watermark (copyright) embedded in it’s data.

    Of course, even that isn’t fail safe. Since they have been able to “crack the code” as a test.
    All in all, I gave up on watermarking like shown in this article. Making sure I have the original file and filing a complaint is the only thing you can do when things go wrong.

    And yes, I agree with the above comment. Sadly, but it’s true.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Dave, I too am of the opinion that watermarking is the solution to piracy. I’ve inserted a rewind link which harps back to an article on the subject. What I can say for the watermarked images, is that it does deter the casual violators. By this I mean those who just want to slap it on their facebook profile or blog, or whatnot. And sure, if someone wants it badly enough, and is skilled enough they do little.

      That said, I believe their true value now is simply for marketing and branding. Cheers.

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    • Stan Rogers

      There is still value in a watermark (beyond branding, I mean). No, it’s not going to stop (or even significantly slow down) anybody who believes that “if it’s on teh intarwebz, i can haz it” unless it’s big enough, obtrusive enough and positioned in such as way as to kill a lot of interesting detail. (In which case there would have been no point in posting the picture for viewing anyway.) But what it can prevent is inadvertent infringement by responsible agencies who would have paid a fair price (perhaps more than you were expecting) to license the image. Sometimes comps (comprehensive mockups) make it into production, complete with placeholder images because legal, purchasing, design and editorial are all making assumptions they shouldn’t have made. (That was the case back in the film days as well, with fuzzy 3rd-generation 35mm dupes of 8×10 originals.) A lower-rez, watermarked image is clearly a placeholder to be replaced with a higher-rez licensed version. Mistakes will, of course, still happen, but they’ll be obvious. Your mission — should you decide to accept it — is to balance a resolution and watermark that make it easy for a designer to choose your image(s) while also making it easy to spot that an unlicensed version is being used, not just to you, but to their in-house team. Oh, and if you are in the US, *make sure you’ve registered your copyright* — it’s the only way you can collect damages. A take-down is no substitute for lost earnings.

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  12. Leslie Troyer

    what gets me about putting on water marks – is it almost uniformly drops reviewers rateings of the image – it doesn’t matter if the watermark isn’t intrusive or in anyway detract. I not good enough yet to worry about where I’m showing my photos, but when I do I don’t want to give up my rights to it, just because it is missing the watermark.


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