Watermarks: how to and should you?


Some of my eagle-eyed readers have noticed that I have recently started to add a watermark to some of my images. I thought I would share how I have done this and then ask whether I should have done it at all.


I drew my logo with black pen on white paper and photographed it. In photoshop (I use CS4), I adjusted the exposure to get a true black and true white and then inverted the image, so now I had a white dragonfly on a black background. Then I added the type and the ‘C’ in a new layer and, hey presto, one logo.


Or two logos – I can’t decide which I like better.

To insert into an image, I copy and paste the logo onto the image and then select screen from the drop down menu of layer modes. This ignores the black background and just adds the white. Then I adjust the opacity slider to get a watermark effect.

In the top image, I have coloured the watermark to suit the subject. This is easily done simply by using the paint bucket tool and clicking on the white areas of the logo before you add it to your image. If you choose a dark colour, you may find it works better to invert the logo (back to black on white) before changing the colour by clicking on the black writing and picture and then use multiply as your blending mode, thus losing the white background and pasting only the dark letters.

Well, I like my pretty little logos and I had a lot of fun designing them. I was influenced by a couple of friends who have very stylish logos that always look great. See Modern Memory Keeping for a great example. But when I add my shiny new watermarks to my images I feel frustrated as they often seem to me to spoil the look. It’s not too bad in an image like the one at the top, which is as much about design and presentation as the photograph alone, but I have no doubt at all that a watermark would spoil, for me, an image like this:


How important is it to add a watermark when sharing images on the web? Does it really offer a practical protection from image misuse? It does perhaps make sure your shot is attributed to you when reposted by people too lazy to attribute properly. But if you want to stop others from deliberately poaching your work, a little watermark in the margin, so very easily cloned away, isn’t going to help you. You need a dirty great watermark marching right across the middle of your cherished image, thus spoiling its appearance utterly.

What do you think?