Watermarking photos in Photoshop Elements

Love them or hate them, a watermark is a quick and easy way to mark your ownership of photos you share online. While certainly not reliable, watermarks make it easy to prove that photo thieves knew they were stealing when they took your photo. This tutorial explains how to watermark your photos. It uses Photoshop Elements 10 as an example, but it should work in any version or program that allows layers.

  1. Create a new layer
  2. Create text
  3. Make a relief
  4. Some Thoughts on Using and Placing Watermarks

Create a new layer

Create a new blank layer with an open photo in full edit mode. This can be done from the “Layer” menu or by using the shortcut Shift-Cmnd-N on Mac or Shift-Ctrl-N on pc. We’ll add a real watermark to this new blank layer so that we can easily manipulate it without changing the base image.

Create text

Now it’s time to add your text or watermark design. Your watermark can be plain text or text with a copyright symbol: Alt+0169 on pc or opt-G on Mac. This can be a uniform, a logo or a combination of both. If you’ve defined a custom brush for your text, use it now. Otherwise, enter your text. I’ve used a strong font with my name and copyright symbol for this tutorial. You can use any color, but different colors show up better and go better with certain photos.

Make a relief

While watermarking can be as simple as a logo on a photo, many people use an embossed effect that looks almost transparent. This makes the photo more visible and prevents it from printing.

Start by changing the layer’s blend style to Soft Light. The degree of transparency depends on the font and original text color – 50% gray is the most transparent.

Then choose a bevel style for your watermark. It comes down to personal preference. I usually prefer a simple outer bevel or a simpler inner bevel. You can further adjust the visibility of the watermark by changing the opacity of the text layer.

Some Thoughts on Using and Placing Watermarks

There is quite a high profile movement on the internet that is denouncing the use of any kind of watermark on images, claiming that they are “ruining them” and not stopping the theft. I’ve even seen some go so far as to tell photographers to “get off the internet” if they don’t want their photos stolen.

Don’t listen to them. While watermarks do not prevent theft, they are similar to the VIN number on your vehicle. They identify signs that help you prove that not only your image, but the thief knew it was yours. Watermarks can also act as advertisements. Your site address on your watermark can lead potential customers to your site.

Watermarks should not intersect the image body, as in this example. Choose an angle for your logo where it is difficult to easily crop the photo to remove it.

Ultimately, the choice of where to place the watermark(s) or how to use them is your choice. Don’t let snobbish internet trolls tell you what you’ve decided.

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