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How to Create Your Own Watermark using a Custom Shape in Photoshop


Big transparent type copyright watermark that you would use send to clients for proofing.

I know there are many ways of creating a watermark. Using the Watermark Editor in Lightroom for example allows you to add your own text or graphic to your images. In general there is a lot of debate whether or not to add a watermark to images.

This article isn’t going to discuss the pros and cons of watermarking your images. Instead, I will demonstrate a step-by-step tutorial using the Custom Tool in Photoshop.

Whether you upload your images to the various social media platforms, or you want to send a client a high resolution image for proofing. This easy tutorial will show you how to create your own watermark using the custom tool in Photoshop.

For a while, my method was opening an image file where I had my own custom copyright information on a text layer. So that I could easily drag and drop this text layer onto a new image. This made more sense and took less time to add a watermark image rather than creating it every time. That is until one day, I couldn’t find the file!

Here are my four easy to follow steps to creating your own custom watermark using the Custom Tool in Photoshop. I prefer to use a custom shape over a custom brush. Shapes are vectors which means they scale up or down without losing quality.

Step 1 – Create a new document

Open Photoshop and create a new document. Make it 1000 pixels wide, by 300 pixels high.

Step 2 – Add text

Press the letter D on your keyboard, to make sure your foreground color is black. Choose whatever font you like, then press T to select the type tool. Hold down ALT key on a Mac and press G (Alt+0169 on a PC). This brings up the copyright symbol, add a space and type your name and year.


Holding down the ALT key on a Mac and press G brings up the copyright symbol (Alt+0169 on a PC).

Step 3 – Convert the layer to a shape

Go over to the layers panel. Right click on the text layer and go down to Convert to Shape.


When you have typed your watermark. Right click on the layer and select Convert to Shape.

This icon appears in the thumbnail to show that the layer is now a shape layer.


This icon in the thumbnail layer tells you that this is now a shape(vector) layer.

Step 4 – Save as a custom shape

Go up to Edit menu and select Define Custom Shape. A Shape Name dialog box appears – type in Watermark and click OK. This now adds your type as a custom option in your Shape Presets Library.


This is how you save your watermark custom shape in the presets library to use again and again.


Give your watermark a name so that you can find it easily. Plus you may decide to have a few.

That’s it. It took just four steps to create your own custom copyright watermark. Let me show now how to access, and add it to your images.

Apply your watermark to images for online viewing

Open an image that you want to share on Facebook, Flickr, etc. Create a new layer in the Layers Panel. Choose the Custom Shape tool in the toolbar (press Shift+U)


This is where you find the Custom Shape Tool in the Toolbar.

Go up to the Options Bar and click on the thumbnail next to the word Shape. This brings up the Shape Presets Library dialog box. At the very bottom, you will find the shape called Watermark.


Custom shapes will always appear at the bottom in the presets library.

Now press and hold the Shift key, click and drag the watermark shape across your image. The Shift key ensures the shape remains in proportion. Don’t worry about the size just yet. Place it in position – in this case, I placed the watermark bottom right.

Now as the foreground color was set to black, I want to change the color to white. Go up to the Layers Panel and click on the Layer thumbnail and the color picker dialog box appears. You can choose whatever color you want here.


You can customise your watermark shape with any colour or style effect.

Go back up to the Layers Panel and reduce the opacity to your desired setting. I chose 40%.


Reducing the opacity allows for your watermark to be more discreet.

I now want to reduce the size of the watermark. Go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform Path (Cmd+T on a Mac). Holding down the Shift and Alt keys, drag any of the corners of the transform handles in towards the centre. This reduces the size while keeping the aspect in proportion. Press Enter or the Commit Transform button up in the Options Bar. Go up to File and Save for the Web.

Apply to high res images for proofing

Okay, so let’s say you want to send a higher resolution image to a client. Open up the image. Click on the Custom Shape Tool (Shift+U). The watermark shape is already selected, so hold the Shift key and click and drag right across the image. Leave the color as it is.

This watermark is going to be transparent. Click on the Add a Layer Style icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and select Bevel and Emboss. The Layer Style dialog box appears. Increase the size to 8 pixels and change the direction to down.


Layer styles can be found by clicking on this icon at the bottom of the layers Panel. Alternatively, go up to Layer menu and choose Layer Style.


The Bevel and Emboss is a good effect to add to your watermark if you want to make more transparent, while still protecting your image.

Next go over to the left and click on the Blending Options: Custom, which is directly above the Bevel and Emboss. Under Advance Blending bring the Fill Opacity slider down to zero and click OK. Go back up to Opacity in the Layers Panel and reduce to 68%.


Reducing the Fill Opacity hides the colour and just leaves the effect.


To place your Custom Watermark Shape at the top in the Presets Library, click on the thumbnail right of the word Shape in the Options Bar. The Shape Presets Library dialog box appears. Click on the gear icon and select Preset Manager, the Preset Manager dialog box appears with all the shapes. The Watermark shape is the very last one, click and drag it up to the top and click the Done button.


By clicking on the gear icon, the pop-out menu where the Preset Manger is located appears.


Here in the Preset Manager, you can rearrange the shapes inside of the dialog box. Just click on any shape and drag it where you want it. I moved the watermark shape to the top for easy access.

Do you use watermarks on your images? Why or why not?

What techniques do you use? Please share in the comments below.

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Sarah Hipwell
Sarah Hipwell

is an independent professional photographer based in Dublin. She specialises in high-quality corporate, stock and portraiture photography. Her background is in Design. She received her BA in Hons Design from the University of Ulster, Belfast. She has many years commercial design experience working as a designer and as a trainer for large multimedia companies. See more of her work at SarahHipwell.com or at 500px.

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