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Photography

How to Create a Simple Watermark Brush in Photoshop

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

To Watermark or Not to Watermark – That is the Question

Before we go on to making a watermark brush let's outline some pros and cons of stamping your name on your work.

Pros:

  • It gives people a way to find you – if you include a name or a website, people can find you in a search engine if they wish to see your other work or hire you.
  • It gives some (very very limited) protection to your image

Cons:

  • They’re distracting, particularly large ones
  • They can put people off sharing them

So, Should I Watermark?

Well, it depends. It depends on what sort of photographer you are for a start. Wedding and portrait photographers almost always watermark in my experience. This is usually because it won’t put the family and friends who feature in the photos off sharing them. This gives others who might like the pictures a way to find them and either buy photos or hire you to do their own. Other types of photographers use a wide variety of watermarks (if any), with some choosing to compromise and place a small watermark in the corner of their image, often including their website. Not enough to put the viewer off (hopefully) but still a way for people to recognise whose picture it is.

What About Theft?

Watermarks offer very little in the way of theft protection unless you completely cover the image in text. Doing that, you may protect your image, but nobody is going to want to share or buy it (I’m not including stock images here; they’re a different entity altogether). In the real world, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to ‘steal’ your image other than to maybe use it for a Facebook cover or desktop background. Let’s face it: it’s not really the end of the world if that happens. 

Most companies who buy images to use for their websites and marketing materials are generally very clued up on copyright and wouldn’t think to just take an image they found, lest they get caught and fined. Uploading a low resolution copy of an image helps too; if someone did want to take it, there’d be very little they could actually do with it.

Nevertheless casual image sharing does happen, from well-meaning blog posts to endless Tumblr shares and quick tweets, and often there's not much thought given to the creator's wishes. So yes, a watermark won't stop theft, but it will assert your ownership in a small but symbolic way.

How to Create a Watermark Brush in Photoshop 

We’re going to look at two types of watermark here, using a logo (for those who have them) and a simple text-based brush.

Method 1: Use a Logo

Open your image or logo in Adobe Photoshop and make sure it’s of a large resolution on a transparent background too. Click Edit and Define Brush Preset

define brush preset
Click Edit > Define Brush Preset

Name your brush something logical. Mine is "Wheels of Joy Square Large."

name your brush
Name your brush

Hit OK. It really is as simple as that. Now to use your brush on an image, open up that image as you would usually, then select your brush tool:

brush tool
Select your brush tool

Open up your brush options at the top (where the brush size is): 

brush options
Select your new watermark brush from the brush options

When you scroll down, you should see your new brush. Select it and pick an appropriate size. Create a New Layer (Control-Shift-N) and stamp the watermark on your image on a separate layer.

example picture with logo watermark
Example picture with logo watermark

You may want to lower the opacity of the layer to blend the watermark more pleasingly.

Method 2: Use Text

If you don’t have a logo, or don’t want to use it for your watermark, then start a new document (make it a large one) and select the Type tool (T):

use the type tool
Use the Type tool to create your watermark

Type out what you’d like as your watermark (again, on a transparent background). If you’d like to use the copyright symbol a handy short cut is Alt-0169 which will give you a ©. Once you’ve done that, crop it in quite tight without chopping any bits off and then follow the directions as in the method above: Edit > Define Brush Preset and there you have it.

watermark with text
Text-based watermark

Whether you choose to watermark or not is up to you and there is no right or wrong answer. Just consider what kind of watermark you have, its placement and its size so as not to put people off looking at your image.

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