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

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Watermarking your photos helps protect them against copyright infringement.

Now you’re probably wondering, how can I make my own watermark for free? I will show you how to do it in Photoshop and Lightroom. And it’s easier than what you may think.

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

What Is a Watermark and Why Use One?

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 copyright.

If someone sees your photo and wants to purchase a license to use it, a watermark will make it easier for them to contact you. And if someone intentionally removes a watermark, the photographer may receive additional damages in the case of an infringement.

Most watermarks often have a degree of transparency. You can also often find them near corners, or at the bottom of images, so they look less distracting.

Some photographers prefer to add a watermark in the same manner a painter will sign their artworks. Others, on the other hand, prefer a barely visible line of text or logo.

A beautiful airy landscape shot with a discreet photographers watermark

How Can I Make My Own Watermark Design?

Creating a well-designed watermark you can use consistently will build recognition for your photos. It’s part of your branding and identity, so you do not want to change it frequently.

Typing your name in Comic Sans or your favourite calligraphy font might not be helpful. Some photographers like to use their website address or a copyright symbol. I have used both of these in the past.

Now we’ll show you how to make a watermark in a few minutes.

The easiest way is to use a create a logo app. In my opinion, the easiest one to use is canva.com. 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 to your image, and that’s it!

What you add to your watermark is a matter of personal taste. Be sure to put some effort into its design to make it look good on your image. And most of all, make sure it doesn’t distract the viewer away from your beautiful pictures.

You can also download your Canva logo as a.PNG file if you want to add to 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 Do I Add a Watermark in Photoshop?

Now we’ll teach you how to make a watermark on Photoshop.

There are many different ways to do it. But the most effective one is to create a custom brush of your watermark design.

Creating a Photography Watermark Custom Brush

After you create a watermark on Adobe illustrator or a logo maker app, you’ll need to create a custom brush in Photoshop for it.

First, create a new document with the same shape as your watermark. I made mine 900 pixels by 900 pixels and 300 pixels per inch. Select a white background.

Don’t make your watermark too small. It’s much better to re-size scaling down than it is to scale up. If it’s too small and you have to scale it up, you will lose clarity and quality.

Anywhere between 500 and 1000 pixels wide will work for most image sizes.

Drag and drop your logo into your new document or select the text tool to add text. You can use any colour. 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 the Edit>’Define Brush Preset’ and name your custom brush. Now you’re ready to add watermarks in photos!

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 into place.

Your new custom brush works the same way any Photoshop brush does. You can change the colour 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 colour. But you can also use variations depending on your preference.

Screenshot of using a Watermark Brush on Photoshop

Save Your New Brush

Sometimes, it can be frustrating when you can’t find the custom brush you just made. 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.’

Now your custom brush will show at the beginning of your brush options every time you create a watermark.

How Do I Add a Watermark in Lightroom?

Now we know how to create a watermark in Photoshop. But what about Lightroom?

If you prefer using Adobe Lightroom to watermark your photos, the process will be a bit different.

You won’t need a custom brush with Lightroom. Instead, You’ll 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.

Adding a Text Watermark

Once you have finished editing your photo or batch of photos, open the Export window. You can export your photos as jpeg, PSD or Tiff files and include a watermark. Lightroom does not give you the option to add a watermark to DNG or Original files.

Choose your preferred export options and then click the Watermark checkbox near the bottom of the export dialogue box. From the drop-down menu, select ‘Edit Watermarks.’ Doing so will open a new window with various options.

At the top right you will see ‘Watermark Style.’ First, select ‘Text.’ In the box on the lower left of the window, enter the text you want to appear on your watermarks.

To make the copyright character on a Windows system, simply press the Alt key and type the number 0169. On a Mac system, press Option+G.

You can work through the options in this window to tweak the look of your simple text watermark. You can control font, colour, alignment, and other aspects of the text.

Again, experiment to discover what you like and what best suits the style of your photography.

When you finish creating your watermark, click save, and name your new preset. Lightroom will then add it to the watermark drop down in the Export window.

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of making a watermark on a photo of a silver motorbike with a stunning landscape behind

Adding a Graphic Logo Watermark

In much the same way you created your text watermark, you can also add your logo and save it as a preset.

To do this, open the Export window and select ‘Edit Watermarks’ from the drop-down menu in the Watermarking options area. Up 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 you’re creating a graphic watermark, there is no option to include text, which is not already part of your logo.

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

Photoshop vs Lightroom

All things considered, your options are more limited in Lightroom. Photoshop is more flexible when adding a photography watermark to your images.

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

The main advantage of using Lightroom to add your watermark, however, is that it’s easy to batch export. Batch exporting 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

Placing a well-designed watermark to your photographs can help build your brand and identity as a photographer. At the same time, poorly designed or badly placed watermark may turn off people to look 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 as people may begin to mistake your photographs as being someone else’s.

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

Eager to learn more about editing your images with Lightroom? Why not check out our course Effortless Editing with Lightroom next!

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