Deal 8: Here it is: The most requested deal of 2014!
A guest post by David Spickett
Watermarking is something that many people use to protect their images online. It is basically placing a mark such as a logo, U.R.L or simply your name, over a part of the photo. This discourages people who intend to steal your images (to a certain extent) and also gives you the chance of getting credit even if the image is moved out of your control.
Now we know what watermarking is, and why we might want to do it, let’s look at how to do it. Methods include making a custom brush, using a document as a frame for all of your images, or simply typing your watermark onto the image. I use the latter in my post processing because I watermark with my U.R.L and also text boxes can be easily moved and scaled without affecting quality, before I flatten the image for export.
You might think this is the slowest method, but by using a feature of Photoshop called actions, we can speed up the process. Actions are sets of recorded instructions that can be run at any time with one click. This means we can type a watermark once and in future, simply run the action to apply it. The actions palette is normally grouped with the history panel but if you cannot see it go to Window>Actions in your Photoshop menus and click to show the actions panel.
Before we begin to make our action, open an image in Photoshop and resize it to the size you use for the majority of your work. For me this is Flickr size a.k.a 900 pixels longest edge. This will reduce the work you have to do after running the action.
Next we begin recording the action, by clicking the icon on the actions panel that looks like a turning page (1 from the right on the bottom). This will being up a “New Action” Dialogue where you can name it (“watermark” for example).
Next we begin the recording of the action. Click the circle icon on the actions palette (one from the left on the bottom). Now select the type tool, the “T” icon on the left hand toolbar, or press “T” on your keyboard. Click anywhere in the image to begin typing and type in your text, in my case, my U.R.L.
It is important to now set the properties of the text. You can find these settings at the top of the window, and they are show below. If a property is already set to your liking you can leave it be, and Photoshop will use that setting. For example I chose Helvetica, Regular, 7pt, sharp, left aligned and the colour white.
To finish your text layer select another tool such as the lasso or brush and Photoshop will finalize the text layer. Now at this point you could set all sorts of other things such as opacity and layer styles but for now I will follow the simple route and finish the action here. To stop recording the action click the square on the bottom left of the actions panel.
Now your action is complete! Whenever you want to re-do your watermark simply click on the action, and then click the play button two from the left on the bottom of the panel (it looks like an arrow pointing right). Your watermark will be applied auto-magically. Note however that you will need to reposition the text using the move tool, and sometimes resize it slightly. Though this is certainly nowhere near the work you would have to do without the action and so I think it gives a good balance between automation and customization.
Some other examples of actions I use are resizing to common percentages (e.g. 25%,50%), resizing to fixed sizes (e.g. 900 pixels long) and some standard sharpening techniques. Above all, remember that actions can record pretty much anything you can do in Photoshop and excel at reducing tedious tasks to one click.
David Spickett is a student who in his spare time is a concert reviewer and photographer for www.noiseaddiction.co.uk.
He also blogs about photography, providing hints, tips and advice over at his personal site www.davidspickett.co.uk.
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October 22, 2010 12:33 pm
I created a watermark that's an image.. because I don't wanna use a preset/downloaded font. So I end up having to open it on PS and drag it over as a layer. Do you know any way I can automate this?
August 17, 2010 07:29 pm
Allow me to chip in with my 2c too. You could try a batch watermark software. It'll usually be around 30USD and will take care of the batch photo watermarking needs. Saves you a lot of time and pain.
TheBatchWatermarks is just one, but there are many available in the market in the same price range.
July 8, 2010 04:37 am
Damon, forget the Digimac, try SignMyImage, it is for a fraction of its price.
May 18, 2010 07:07 am
Thanks so much for the article! Much appreciated. I ran across this article on Twitter. Have you ever tried Digimarc for Images? It allows you to include an imperceptible digital watermark to your image/illustration for copyright and usage tracking purposes. I think it worth checking out if you haven't already ... and I'm not just saying that because I work for Digimarc(!)
All the best,
April 26, 2010 11:51 am
Thanks for the advice re automating etc. Hvent quite got the solution I'm looking for yet but I've not tried all the great suggestions offered. Plenty of homework here :)
April 26, 2010 11:32 am
you can automate easily in picasa web, or fast stone image viewer... its really fast there... just my two cents..
April 26, 2010 08:46 am
Very Cool. I've been looking for something like thisl
April 22, 2010 07:06 am
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Very simply instructions. (heck, even I figured it out.)
April 17, 2010 12:02 pm
I have always wondered how to do this. I am not much of a photographer these days, but I am trying to be.
April 17, 2010 04:01 am
With the new Fill Content Feature in Adobe CS 5, all your watermarks should beware.
April 16, 2010 03:49 am
Awesome!! I just love it when people share techniques like this so I don't have to spend hours at the computer with children hanging on my legs whining while I try to figure it out on my own!
April 15, 2010 05:37 pm
I am generally against watermarking and all that protectionism. But if you really have to do it and are not afraid of little command line, there is an excellent bunch of utilities ImageMagick that you can use for virtually any batch processing on images. These tools are multi-platform so you can run them on Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD, Solaris... Most Linux distributions have them in repositories hence the installation is trivial. For Windows / Mac the easiest way is to use precompiled binaries.
Once you have the package installed just create a script that does what you need. As an example to get you started, here is a snippet of a bash shell script that creates resized copies of all jpeg files in a folder, adds an overlay text, and puts them in a separate subfolder 'preview'. Be warned that the options and functions available are really endless. The full list of utilities available is here.
# generate previews with overlay text for all jpg files in a folder
# go where your pictures are
# create subfolder 'preview'
# loop through all of the jpg files and process them one by one
for i in `ls *.jpg`; do
# resize every file and add a label:
# * resize to 50% of original (other options are available)
# * set the font, size, and colours
# * draw the text
# * input file and output file (in preview subfolder)
-resize 50% \
-font Bookman-DemiItalic -pointsize 72 -fill black -stroke white \
-draw "text 100,100 'YOUR OVERLAY TEXT'" \
April 15, 2010 08:39 am
I prefer to have my watermark as a brush. I have an action called "Signature layer 50%" that basically just adds a layer and sets the opacity to 50%, then I select my brush that is saved at 1200 px, and use it in the desired place. I usually put the watermark in the photo before resizing for Flickr, no real reason why, I've just always done it that way. I've considered figuring out a way to automate it completely, but I've always ended up deciding against it because sometimes I change to location of the water mark. Also, depending on the photo, the watermark will either be white or black. I figure that even if I have it totally automated, I will still have to make little changes that will cancel out any time benefit that the automation process gave me.
April 15, 2010 02:23 am
FastStone will allow the watermark to be placed in the same spot on every image regardless or dimensions..give it a shot you will be pleasantly surprised.
April 15, 2010 01:44 am
Hm, i guess DPS has read my mind! This is exactly what I was looking for since yesterday!
April 15, 2010 01:21 am
Just say, "No!" to watermarking!
April 15, 2010 12:36 am
The action I created will place the photo 1/4 inch from the bottom and 1/4 inch from the right edges of any size photo.
Watermark Creator does a great job too if you're a NAPP member.
Also, MCP actions has a watermarking action (Free, I think) that you can tweak to work with any size photo without too much trouble.
April 15, 2010 12:27 am
My problem is: I have so many pictures with different size in the same folder. Photoshop action will also put it in a little bit different position whenever find a picture that is different size with the size of picture being used as action. To avoid this I have no choice but to create many folders just to put pictures with the same size so I may do photoshop action properly. Any help, please!
April 14, 2010 08:20 pm
Ben: doing that kind of thing generally involves scripting, which I'm not versed in. There was something from NAPP, something along the lines of watermark creator, that used scripting to position the mark.
I would suggest you try out the Lightroom 3 beta (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom3/) as Mark pointed out, I'm not sure of the options but I'm pretty sure it will scale watermarks for you on export.
April 14, 2010 04:12 pm
I actually wrote my own action two days ago to the same effect while I was uploading some photos to Flickr. I have a couple of suggestions which took a while to find which you might find useful.
You can resize your photo to be 900 pixels on its longest size by using File > Automate > Fit Image and setting the two parameters to 900 px. This command can be performed within an action.
In order to place the watermark in a corner of the image, no matter what shape it is, select both layers and use the Align buttons to position it in whatever corner you wish. For example, to place the watermark in the bottom right, click Align Right and Align Bottom. You can then nudge the watermark to give it a bit of space. You can't use the Transform tool because Actions stores Transform information relatively as opposed to absolutely.
If you implement both these suggestions you can use the batch command to run over an entire directory of images and they will all pop out perfectly watermarked. Hope it's helpful!
April 14, 2010 01:37 pm
Thanks for the tip; that's useful. I have been adding a simple text watermark to my photos for a while and I run into a few simple problems. I assume they are simple problems; they sure seem simple to me. Maybe someone here has the solution.
(1) Positioning of the watermark - I like my watermark to be near the bottom edge and centered. Photoshop gives me what seems to be guide lines that it snaps to (bold, pink lines) and one of these seems to be centered. But it is not quite right. I always have to manually position the watermark and it'd be good to be able to have it centered more easily and without me having to double-check that it is centered.
(2) Sizing of the watermark - if I crop a picture, I need to resize the watermark to be consistent with the look I like. Is there an easy way to automatically resize the watermark to be of a certain ratio to the length of the photo in question?
April 14, 2010 10:16 am
Steps for Lightroom 3 automation using the export function.. Lightroom 2 needs mogrify:
1. Create the watermark in Photoshop, or other graphical program in the full size of what you need.
2. in Lightroom you will need to set up the graphical watermark. this can be done in the export dialog box under the watermark section. the settings are really simple so i won't go into detail too much, make sure to save them with what kind they are for future reference, but once it's done it's able to be used indefinitely, just like another preset.
3. you will need to set up two graphical watermarks, one for landscape oriented photos and one for portrait oriented photos. Lightroom doesn't have a corner snap like some add-ons may (mogrify comes to mind)
4. export the photos and the watermark will appear just as you've set it up to do. you will need to export the landscape and the portraits separately. make sure you're not exporting to a custom name or it will result in landscape oriented and portrait oriented photo separated and not in proper order anymore.
(note: saw the question first, answered it here, then saw the comments which pretty much say the same here... not meaning to steal anyones thunder)
April 14, 2010 06:04 am
I wanted to add something to the discussion. I've seen countless examples of unethical bloggers who take an image with the watermark close to the edge and simply cropped it off. It's important to place the watermark in a way that makes it impossible to crop out. I know this may seem to make the image less attractive putting branding on top of your well crafted image. However, if you make your watermark attractive with a more interesting font or even add a custom icon you can be sure to never be ripped off this way and it actually adds to the image.
April 14, 2010 04:32 am
thank you for this! I have created a few actions, and was trying desperately to create an automated action for watermark, but kept making mistakes that the action would pick up! I am currently using a brush to watermark each item, but I would rather batch process if possible, so an action works the best!
April 14, 2010 02:20 am
I use a free program called FastStone Photo resizer that does watermarking and a host of other things in batch mode. You can basically create your water mark (text or graphic) save it. Configure Fastone to use the graphic/text watermark and within FastStone you can position exactly where you want the watermark to be on the images.
After that initial setup is completed you can then process as many images as you like using this utility. As a part of my workflow I now use FastStone to re-size my images down to less than 500Kb and add the watermark. Sometimes I add a drop shadow or frame if I'm feeling spunky..:)!
April 14, 2010 02:03 am
Aperture allows you to build export presets with watermarking. You can build as many presets as you want.
It doesn't get any easier than this.
April 14, 2010 02:00 am
Since I am an Aperture user - this process will help my workflow mucho! Thanks.
April 14, 2010 01:49 am
You can include the watermark(text or graphic) on export from Lightroom (there is a tick box in the export dialog). The trouble with that is anything you do in Photoshop after that also affects the watermark.
A more flexible option for LR watermarking is the Lightroom Mogrify plugin. However, with LR3 there are some changes to LR's native abilities to watermark.
Photo Mechanic also does watermarking with either text or graphic.
April 14, 2010 01:45 am
How do you automate in Lightroom?
April 14, 2010 01:04 am
This can also be done in lightroom rather easy. You don't really get any customization with regards to colors or placement - but once you import all your photos - go to the library. Typically, I will just select all, and the options pane on the right there is a checkbox "include watermark" or something, and a textbox where you can type in whatever.
April 14, 2010 01:00 am
I personally just enjoy using my watermark as a brush. That way I can easily place it, resize it, and choose transparency.
April 14, 2010 12:57 am
I've so long been looking for such a quick solution. Definitely Photoshop Actions are the ultimate best solution ;)
April 14, 2010 12:28 am
This can be done even faster, and in batch, using the "place" command and a pre-saved watermark file with transparency preserved. I have one action for my web proofs that works for either landscape or portrait orientation and one for each size print I offer.
An even MORE efficient way is to use NAPP's Watermark Creator, but you have to be a member to get it and it stopped working for me on Snow Leopard.
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