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How to Make a Watermark for Photos (Step by Step)

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Many photographers make a watermark for their photos. It helps protect images against copyright infringement. Now you may wonder, how can I make my own watermark for free?

We will show you how to do it in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. And it’s easier than you may think.

A night time image of the exterior of Suan Sook Homestay with a photography watermark in the corner

What is it? And Why Make a Watermark for Photos?

A watermark is a way of signing your images as the owner. It’s also a deterrent to copyright infringement. A watermark is usually a logo, stamp, or signature superimposed onto a photo.

Photographers use watermarks on their photos to make them easy to identify. They also let people know the picture has a copyright.

Maybe someone sees your photo and wants to buy a license to use it. A watermark makes it easier for people to contact you. And if someone intentionally removes a watermark? Then you may receive extra money in the case of an infringement.

Watermark Characteristics

Most watermarks often have a degree of transparency. You also often find them in corners or at the bottom of images. This is to make them look less distracting. You also have to option to tweak your camera settings and add copyright info to the EXIF data.

Some photographers prefer to add a watermark like a painter signs their artwork. Others prefer a barely visible line of text or logo.

It’s best to create a well-designed watermark. Then you can use it to build consistent recognition for your photos. It becomes part of your branding and identity. So you do not want to change it frequently… Next, we will show you how to make a watermark in a few minutes.

A beautiful airy landscape shot with a discreet photographers watermark

How to Make a Watermark Design

The easiest way is to create a logo with an app. In my opinion, the easiest one to use is Canva. It’s not only free, but it also offers tons of font and design options. Simply look for the logo elements you want. Then drag and drop them into your image, and that’s it!

If you want to try out paid logo maker sites, Brandmark is a great option. What you add to your watermark is a matter of personal taste. But put some effort into its design to make it look good in your image.

Don’t type your name in Comic Sans or your favorite calligraphy font. It doesn’t look professional. And most of all, ensure it doesn’t distract the viewer from your beautiful pictures.

Some photographers like to use their website address or a copyright symbol. I have used both of these in the past. You can also download your Canva logo as a PNG file if you want to add pictures using Photoshop or Lightroom.

A photo of the exterior of a house with a plant in the foreground and a poorly placed watermark that is too large

How to Add a Watermark in Photoshop

Now. we teach you how to make a watermark in Photoshop. There are many different ways to do it. But the most effective one is creating a custom brush for your watermark design.

Create a Custom Watermark Brush

First, create a watermark on Adobe Illustrator, a logo maker, or a watermark app, as mentioned. Then you need to create a custom brush in Photoshop.

Next, create a new document with the same shape as your watermark. I made mine 900 x 900 pixels and 300 PPI (pixels per inch). Then select a white background.

Don’t make your watermark too small. It’s much better to scale down than it is to scale up. If it’s too small, you lose clarity and quality and have to scale it up. A resized image between 500 and 1000 pixels on the wide side works for most watermarks.

Drag and drop your logo into your new document or select the text tool to add text. You can use any color. If you use black, you can easily change it once you have created the custom brush.

Once you have your design on a white background, go to Edit, then Define Brush Preset and name your custom brush. Now you’re ready to add watermarks to photos!

Add Watermarks With the Custom Brush

So how do you add a watermark to photos with the custom brush? It’s as simple as hovering your mouse over your image and left-clicking it into place.

Your new custom brush works the same way any Photoshop brush does. You can change the color or size before you apply it. You can also change the blend mode and opacity if you want your watermark to be semi-transparent.

Experiment with the different settings to get a feel for what you find looks best on your photos. You may want to use the same opacity, blend mode, and color. But you can also use variations depending on your preference.

Screenshot of how to make a watermark brush in Photoshop
Brush menu option in Photoshop

Save Your New Watermark Brush

Sometimes, it can be frustrating when you can’t find the custom brush you made. So here’s a great way to access it quickly when adding watermarks on photos.

First, select your Brush tool. Then right-click and go to the Settings cogwheel in the top-right corner. Left-click that and then left-click Preset Manager. In the preset manager, locate your new custom brush and drag it to the top of the list of brush folders.

Save the new set and click Done. Your custom brush will show at the beginning of your brush options every time you create a watermark.

How to Add a Watermark in Lightroom

Now we know how to create a watermark in Photoshop. But what about Adobe Lightroom? The process is slightly different if you prefer using Lightroom to create watermarks.

You won’t need a custom brush with Lightroom. Instead, you need to create one or more watermark presets to add to your photos when you export them.

A silver motorbike with a stunning landscape behind and a watermark on top created in lightroom.

How to Add a Text Watermark

After editing your photo or batch of photos, open the Export window (File > Export). You can export your photos as JPEG, PSD, or TIFF files and include a watermark. Lightroom does not allow you to add a watermark to DNG or original files.

Choose your preferred export options. And click the Watermark checkbox near the bottom of the export dialogue box. From the drop-down menu, select Edit Watermarks. Doing so opens a new window with various options.

At the top right, you will see Watermark Style. First, select Text. In the window’s lower left box, enter the text you want to appear on your watermarks. To make the copyright character in Windows, press the Alt key and type 0169. On a Mac, press Option+G.

You can work through the options in this window to tweak the look of your simple text watermark. You can control the text’s font, color, alignment, and other aspects. Again, experiment to see what you like and what best suits your photography style.

When you finish creating your watermark, click save. Then name your new preset. Lightroom then adds it to the watermark drop-down in the Export window.

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of how to make a watermark on a photo of a silver motorbike with a stunning landscape

How to Add a Graphic Logo Watermark

In the way you can create your text watermark, you can also add your logo and save it as a preset. To do this, open the Export window. Select Edit Watermarks from the drop-down menu in the Watermarking options area. In the top right, select the Graphic watermark style option.

Locate the logo you want to set as your Lightroom watermark. Under Watermark Effects, you have options for opacity, size, and position. When creating a graphic watermark, there is no option to include text which is not part of your logo.

After you finish creating your logo, click save. You can then name your new watermark preset.

Making a Watermark (Photoshop vs Lightroom)

Adobe Photoshop is more flexible when adding a photography watermark to your images. Your options are more limited in Adobe Lightroom.

With Photoshop, you can position your watermark precisely where you want it to appear. I find it is easier to manipulate the custom brush to get the look and feel that suits the image.

But the main advantage of using Lightroom to add your watermark is that it’s easy to batch export. This means the position and properties of your watermark will be the same on every image you save.

But ultimately, it’s all a matter of preference. Weigh the pros and cons of each editing suite and figure out which you like the best.

Still life of wooden ornaments on a stonetable at Suan Sook Homestay with a subtle photographers watermark created in Photoshop

Conclusion

A well-designed and placed watermark can help build your brand and identity. At the same time, a poorly designed or badly placed one may prevent people from looking at your work.

Take time to experiment with watermarking your photos. Find something that works for you and does everything a watermark needs to do. You do not want to be changing your watermark often. People may begin to mistake your photos for someone else’s.

Look around the internet at photographers you admire. Look at how they add watermarks to their images. Draw inspiration from those already doing it well. And think about how you would design yours.

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