Creative Watermarking - How to Integrate Your Signature into Your Photos -  featured - 01

Creative Watermarking – How to Integrate Your Signature into Your Photos

Watermarking is a topic that many photographers are quite passionate about. It seems to be a viable way of protecting your images from online theft, but a watermark can ruin a photo if placed carelessly. Indeed, with a semi-transparent giant piece of text (and maybe Comic Sans as a font) written straight across the image, many people won’t bother looking at the image for more than a second. I have been applying watermarks (or, to be more precise, signatures) to my images for some time now, but I use a different philosophy by making it an integral part of each image, almost as if it was there in the original scene. In this recipe, I will show you how you can apply similar signatures to your images.

Assumptions and Requirements

The terms watermark and signature are a bit blurred. Most signatures serve as a kind of watermark. For the purpose of this recipe, I will continue using the term signature because it fits better.

I am assuming that you have finished all the post-processing work you need and that adding the signature is the final step. Applying a signature like this can take some time, and applying it half-way through the process may mean that you have to repeat this work. Furthermore, I am demonstrating the process using Photoshop. It should be possible to use CS3 and above or a current version of Photoshop Elements. If you are using some other photo editing tool, you may have to adapt some steps.

Update: As Mike Francis reports (see comments below), you can apply this watermarking method using Photoshop Elements (version 10 or above) in the same way it is described here. So there is no need to get the much more expensive Photoshop CS. If you have any question concerning the usage of Photoshop Elements for your watermarking, feel free to post your question in a comment below. I will forward it to Mike so that he may answer it.

The Purpose of a Signature

A well-placed signature can keep people from stealing your work on the web. It reveals information about the artist if it is stolen anyway, and it associates your name (or logo) with the image which may help you in getting recognition. Many people frown when they see a signature on a photograph, but for most painters, signing their work is simply common sense.

Since the kind of signature we will be applying here requires some effort and actually alters the image, it may not be suited for all types of photography. For example, it should not be applied in photo-journalistic work. But if you are into fine art photography, this recipe may be for you.

Further Examples

Below, you see further examples of signatures that are integrated into the respective scene. Except maybe for the first example, a viewer will not notice them straight away. They are not destructive, and they appear to be a natural part of the scene. A thief needs to notice them first to remove them, and removing them can be tricky.

Overview of the Process

The process of adding a signature to a scene consists of the following major steps:

  1. Creating your signature template. This is some kind of personal logo that can be placed on the image. The signature template should be as compact as possible. A line of text containing multiple words is very difficult to apply. It could be your initials, a copyright sign and the year, for example.
  2. Selecting the right spot for the signature, and placing the template onto your finished image.
  3. Applying  the correct perspective distortion to the signature to fit it into the scene.
  4. Blending the signature with the rest of the image so that it looks like it has been there when you took the photograph.

In the following, I will give detailed step-by-step instructions on how to achieve each of these objective.

Creating a Signature Template

The signature template is a separate Photoshop file that contains your signature. For every image that you would like to add the signature to, you can load it into Photoshop and duplicate the signature into you new image. Thus, you need to create the actual signature only once, and you can reuse it for every image.


STEP 1: Make a new image ( File > New… ) and make it about 800×400 pixels large. The size may vary depending on the typical resolution of your images. In general, shrinking the signature is much less problematic than enlarging it. So make it big enough to fit all your needs.

Make a new image ( File > New... ) and make it about 800x400 pixels large.


STEP 2: Use the Type Tool (T) to create your actual signature. The design it totally up to you. You can use combinations of text layers and arrange them accordingly, or you may use graphics elements. Just make sure that it can be clearly read even when it is rather small in your final signed image.

Use the Type Tool (1) to combine your signature (2) from a number of text layers (3).


STEP 3: Create a new black fill layer. Choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color… ) from the menu and choose black from the color picker that will be displayed.


STEP 4: Make a selection from all the layers of your signature as follows: Hold down the Ctrl key and click on the first layer you want to add (click on the layer icon or on the layer mask – whichever defines the element you would like to add). For all the following layers, right-click on the layer icon (or mask) and choose Add Transparency Mask from the pup-up menu. The shape of each layer will be added to the current selection.

Turn the signature elements into a selection (1) by using the Add Transparency Mask command (2) on each layer.

IMPORTANT: The Add Transparency Mask menu item is really only available if you right-click directly on the layer icon. Clicking anywhere else on the layer in the layers palette will open a different menu.

TIP: If you are having difficulties combining the different elements of your watermark into a single selection, have a look at my video tutorial on combining masks.


STEP 5: Remove the existing mask from the black fill layer you have made, click on the Add layer mask button and set the blending mode of the black fill layer to Color Dodge .

Add a new layer mask (1) by clicking on the Add layer mask button (2) and set the blending mode (3) to Color Dodge.


STEP 6: Bring up the Layer Style Dialog by double-clicking on the black fill layer in the layers panel. To bring up the dialog, you have to double-click on some spot to the right of the layer name.


STEP 7: In the Layer Style dialog, add a Drop shadow and a Bevel and Emboss effect. It does not really matter which parameters you choose for those two effects. The Color Dodge blending mode and these two layer styles will make your signature semi-transparent when you put it onto your images. This makes the following steps easier. However, the final look will be created later.

Open the Layer Style dialog and add a Drop Shadow effect (1) and a Bevel and Emboss effect (2).


STEP 8: Save your signature to a file. You are now ready for putting it onto any image you process.


 

Selecting the Right Spot and Copying the Template

I assume that you have opened your image and the signature template in Photoshop. Once you have finished all the post-processing work on the image, it is time to apply the signature. The first thing you need to do is to identify a good spot for it. If you want it to be some sort of protective mechanism, do not put it at the very edge of the image, since you want to avoid that a thief can simply crop it out. The selection of the right spot is different for each image (see the examples above) and comes down to your creativity.

To copy the signature template into your image, do the following:


STEP 1: Go to the open signature template document.


STEP 2: Right-click on the signature layer (the fill layer with the mask we created) and choose Duplicate Layer… from the pop-up menu.


STEP 3: In the dialog that appears, select the image that you want to apply the signature to as the destination and hit OK .


STEP 4: Go to the image document and you will see the signature layer in the layers panel. The semi-transparent  signature appears in the upper left corner of the image. If it does not, simply drag the signature layer to the top position in the layer stack.

After duplicating the signature layer, it appears in the layers panel (1) and on the image.


 

Applying the Correct Perspective

At this point, your signature will not at all look as if it was a part of the actual scene. The next thing we need to do is to resize it to fit it into the spot you have chosen and to correct the perspective. For both adjustments, you can use the Distort tool ( Edit > Transform > Distort ). But before we do that, we need to create some guiding lines to get the perspective right.


STEP 1: Select the Line Tool and change the foreground color such that anything you draw onto the image can easily be identified. In our case, we will use a light green and blue.


STEP 2: In the area where you want to put the signature, look for straight lines in the image (walls, grooves, windows etc.) – anything that creates a horizontal line on the real object you photographed helps you in finding the actual perspective of the image.


STEP 3: Once you have identified those lines, use the Line Tool to create two intersecting lines straight along those natural lines in the image. The important part here are not the lines themselves but the point where they intersect. This is the vanishing point of your image, and any line starting from that point will naturally have the right perspective. Note that if your image has two vanishing points (horizontal and vertical lines each converging to a different point), you have to create guiding lines for the second point too. Our sample image is straight enough to say that it has only one vanishing point.


STEP 4: Use the vanishing point to draw the actual guiding lines along which the top and bottom edges of your signature will run: Activate the Line Tool in the toolbar, start at the vanishing point and draw lines from there.

Draw two guiding lines along the lines that are present in the image (1). From the point where those lines intersect (3), draw additional lines (2) that will define the top and bottom edges of your signature.


STEP 5: Move the signature roughly to the position where you would like to apply it using the Move Tool.


STEP 6: Activate the Distort tool ( Edit > Transform > Distort ) with the signature layer selected in the layers panel. A bounding box will appear around the signature. Move the four corners of that box such that they fall onto your guiding lines.

Signature with perspective corrected (signature displayed in black for better visibility only)


STEP 7: Hit Enter to apply the distortion.


STEP 8: Delete the guide line layers or make them invisible by clicking the eye to the left of the respective layers. We do not need them anymore.


 

Blending the Signature into the Image

Now the signature has the right perspective but it still looks strange because it has sharp edges and does not blend with the background well. We will do the following things to fix this:

  • We will use the signature to create a selection and copy the respective parts from the image to replace the signature with actual image pixels that we can manipulate for the blending.
  • We will apply a layer style with the right lighting.
  • We will use the Smudge Tool to create a smooth transition between the signature and the image.

Replacing the signature layer with actual image data


STEP 1: Hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard (Option key on Mac) and click on the layer mask of your signature layer. This will create a selection.


STEP 2: Select the image layer (Layer 0 in the screenshot below), hit Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V to copy and paste the selected part of that image layer. A new layer will be created that contains only the parts under signature.

Create a selection from the mask of the signature layer and copy/paste the selected parts as a new layer (1).


Applying a layer style


STEP 1: Double-click on the new layer (right of the layer name) that you just created in the previous step to bring up the Layer Style dialog.


STEP 2: Check the Bevel and Emboss section in the Styles list at the left side of the dialog.


STEP 3: Be creative and play with the controls that appear. I like the Pillow Emboss option in many cases as it creates the illusion that somebody used a hammer and a chisel to actually carve the signature in. The best choise very much depends on the scene though. You need to experiment. Also try different setting of the parameters in the Structure panel. The effect of each setting is pretty straight forward, and you will find out quickly what works and what doesn’t.


STEP 4: Adjust the Shading settings to the scene. This is very important as the signature needs to have the same lighting as the scene itself. Otherwise, it will look fake. Check where the light comes from in the image and drag the little cross in the Angle section respectively until the lighting looks natural.


STEP 5: Choose the colors and the Opacity settings for Highlight Mode and Shadow Mode such that they match the coloring of the image.

Double-click on the new layer (1) to bring up the Layer Style dialog. Activate the Preview (3) to see the effects of your changes in the image (4). In the Bevel and Emboss section (2) choose a style (6). Adapt the Shading (5) to the light in the image.


There is really no one-size-fits-all with respect to the right parameters. You have to experiment and find the right settings for each individual image.

Blending the signature with the image

The final step is to make the sharp rough edges of your signature smoother such that they blend with the image. No matter how sharp your original image is, the extremely sharp and somewhat pixelated edges of the signature will always look unnatural. We will fix this using the Smudge Tool.


STEP 1: Select the signature layer by clicking on it.


STEP 2: Select the Smudge Tool from the tool bar. Set the size of the brush tip to about 15-20 pixels (may vary depending on the size of the signature), and set the Strength to about 10%. Keep the other options unchecked.


STEP 3: Start brushing along the edges of the signature. You will notice that the sharp edge blurs and blends with the pixels around the signature. You may have to brush over the same spot multiple times to get the effect you want.


STEP 4: Do this for all edges of the signature until it blends with the background nicely.

Select the layer created from the signature selection (1) and activate the Smudge Tool (2). Set the brush size to 15-20 pixels (3), the Strength to 10% (4) and leave the other options unchecked (5). As you brush along the edge (6) of your signature, the sharp edge (8) will be blurred and blends with the background (7).


Now you are done. You have successfully applied your signature to your image.

Summary and Take-away Points

  • If you want to apply a watermark / signature to your images, do not simply paste a huge piece of ugly text over it. This will deter viewers.
  • If you are willing to invest a bit more time, you can produce a signature that seamlessly blends into the image, tagging it as being yours without turning off viewers.
  • Choosing the right spot for the signature is a part of the creative work you put into an image. By making the signature and the placement your little personal touch, you can actually make your images even more interesting to view.
  • You can work in an efficient way by creating a template that you can reuse for every image.
  • Blending your signature into the image can be achieved by 1. giving it the correct perspective, 2. using layer styles to give it the right lighting and to make it look as if it was carved out of some object in your image, and 3. using the Smudge Tool to blend the edges with the background.
  • Remember to make your signature unique: Experiment with different logos, styles, and positions.
103 replies
  1. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    This is fantastic! I was *just* drafting you an email requesting that you share your watermarking technique.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Lynne,

      you see, I already know what you want before you even know it. Mysterious… ;-)

      I hope you’re having fun with the tutorial!

      Reply
  2. Kirk
    Kirk says:

    I have a similar technique. I’ve seen this question asked a lot. I made mine into a brush and then tweak the B&E and opacity as well after “stamping” it on it’s own layer and then finally merging down. Nice easy explanation here.

    Reply
  3. Michael Long
    Michael Long says:

    Thank you for the article. It’s nice to see someone share something like this. Thank you again.
    mike long

    Reply
  4. Paul Zietsman
    Paul Zietsman says:

    Klaus,

    Thank you for a well detailed explanation of your technique. I have been thinking about watermarking my images and this gives me the impetus to start doing it.

    Regards,

    Paul

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Paul,

      great to hear that! If you have questions, or if you want to show us your results, feel free to come back here and comment.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
  5. Darlene
    Darlene says:

    Very cool, there’s another way to make the image show in the text. Open up the layer style and go to “blending options” it’s at the very top. On the right panel there is a section called “advanced blending” and a slider called “fill opacity”. Just dial down the “fill opacity” to 0% and the text will disappear, except for any shadows and affects you’ve added to it, and the image will appear in the middle of the text.

    Reply
  6. farbspiel
    farbspiel says:

    Thanks guys,

    I am curious to see all your images with personalized signatures soon. If you have come up with your own signature and tried out the technique, feel free to post the link here. I am curious to see how it played out for you.

    Cheers
    Klaus

    Reply
  7. Gary Guest
    Gary Guest says:

    Hi Klaus, Thanking you so much for your information. Always of a great benefit. You have a great wealth of information. I look forward to more awesome videos.

    I hope you don’t mine, I have forward your information on to other members of our camera club. I am sure they will benefit by this and sign up for your information videos. Thanks again.

    Regards

    Gary

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Gary,

      thanks a lot.

      “I hope you don’t mine, I have forward your information…”

      I don’t mind a bit. Please do forward it as often as you can. I hope the poeple at your club find the information useful too.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
  8. Gianluca Gulli
    Gianluca Gulli says:

    With all due respect, if you blend it too well like the boat at the very top of this page then isnt that not such a good thing because nobody will even notice it?
    maybe from an ‘advertising’ perspective i mean.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Gianluca,

      thanks for your thoughts on this. You’re right, but it really depends on what you are trying to achieve with the signature: Do you want it to be a subtle hint that is less of a distraction or do you want it to be very obvious. That’s your personal choice. You can achieve both with the very technique explained in this post.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
      • Kirk
        Kirk says:

        Right, because some do it for “security” or artsy reasons. It depends on what you as the artist/photographer want it for. If no one notices it then that’s a good thing for the artist who’s looking for that bit of discretion in their work that will identify the piece but won’t detract from it.
        On the flipside, I love how Klaus’s looks. It defines his work (boldly) and adds to it with his logo. If you’ve ever viewed art on say, Deviant Art, you’ll notice the obligatory dA emblem that (IMO) ruins the viewing pleasure.

        Eh . . . my 2 cents

        Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Angus,

      if that’s what you think, then go with your regular watermarks. There is nothing wrong with them.

      Cheers

      Reply
  9. J
    J says:

    when on step 4 – the “add transparency mask” option is unavailable on either layer – are there other things i could do?

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi J,

      it matters where you cklick on the layer. You have to click right on the layer icon or on the layer mask icon (depending on what exactly you want to add to the selection). I assume you have Photoshop CS4 or higher.

      Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Good question, Philbert!

      I don’t take too many people shots myself. But I guess you can get creative here too if you want to. You could make the signature part of the clothing, for example. But to some people, that may be crossing a line that you don’t want to cross. It may represent a manipulation that your subjects may not be happy with.

      Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hey Steve!

      Have fun with it, mate! When you have some results, feel free to post a link to it here in the comments. We’re curious to see it.

      Reply
  10. J
    J says:

    thats what i did – i have cs5 – doent work – its greyed out – i can send you a screen shot if you have an available email – doesnt work for me.

    Reply
      • Andrew Caldwell
        Andrew Caldwell says:

        Klaus

        I have CS5 and I have the same problem; when you get the pop up menu to ‘add transparency mask’ the 3 transparency mask items in the menu are greyed out and can’t be accessed.

        Reply
        • farbspiel
          farbspiel says:

          Hi Andrew,

          I will check that when I get back to a proper computer with Photoshop today. Stay tuned!

          Cheers
          Klaus

          Reply
        • farbspiel
          farbspiel says:

          Andrew, J,

          here is the solution: You have to create the very first part of the selection simply by Crtl-clicking on the first layer icon (e.g. if it is a text layer) or on the layer mask. All subsequent selections can be made using the command from the pop-up menu.

          I hope that solves the problem.

          Edit: I have now clarified this in the article. Thanks for letting me know!

          Cheers
          Klaus

          Reply
          • Avery
            Avery says:

            I had the same problem. I just realized, I’m on a Mac. So instead of CONTROL I used COMMAND and it worked.

          • farbspiel
            farbspiel says:

            Hi Avery!

            Ok, cool. I am glad that it works now. I wanted to spare my readers from the clutter of adding hints to the Mac keys. I assume that this is common knowledge by now. Sorry, if I confused you by that.

            Cheers
            Klaus

          • Avery
            Avery says:

            That’s alright!

            I do have a question, regarding the – “Replacing the signature layer with actual image data” – step.
            I don’t think I’m doing this right and I’m not sure I totally understand it.

            Thanks!

  11. nick
    nick says:

    I have been looking for a way to do this for a long time! Thank you, my only issue is that i have upgraded to CS6, and for some reason it does not work like you showed. Perhaps i just did something wrong though. Any suggestions?

    Reply
      • nick
        nick says:

        I can get everything up to the “adding the transparency mask” That i can’t get to work and then so on.. To the point where when i try to add the saved file to my picture, it won’t show up (i even moved it to the top)

        Thank you!

        Reply
  12. Rosh
    Rosh says:

    Hello Klaus,

    That is a very great concept of watermarking you have presented. Really appreciate it a lot. I have a few queries to ask with you.
    First off I haven’t been able to blend the signature completely with the image, it does look a little too obvious rather than subtle. Does this solely depend upon experimenting in the Bevel and Emboss layer style or should the blending mode of that particular layer be changed?
    Secondly, do you delete/disable the original signature template layer that has been put over the photo and keep only the copied version during the blending of the signature steps?

    Reply
  13. J
    J says:

    can you make a video tutorial for this? ive tried this many times and still have issues trying to make this work

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi J,

      I am sorry to hear that. I will try to make a video tutorial soon. In the meantime, just to check: Have you created the first bit of the selection by Crtl-clicking on one of the layers? Only after that step, the “Add Transparency Mask” command will be available. There needs to be an existing selection.

      If you can make a screenshot, I may be able to point out the problem more precisely.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
  14. keith
    keith says:

    Klaus

    Thank you for sharing a very detailed explanation of your technique for placing watermarks into images, I have seen the watermark in anumber of your images and think it’s a great idea.

    Regards

    Keith

    Reply
  15. Kaufmann49
    Kaufmann49 says:

    Can you imagine a large watermark in a Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph? A Gursky photograph?

    No, of course not. Large watermarks are almost exclusively used by wanna be amateurs.

    It looks bad. Bad. It interferes with the motif. It will not stop anybody, because it can be easily removed via photoshop.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Kaufmann49,

      you are absolutely right! And that’s why I don’t use large watermarks. Thanks for your opinion on this.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
  16. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Thank you for spending the time to putting this together.
    I shoot landscape and love this non obtrusive solution.
    Maybe one day you have time put together a video tutorial of this version for those of us less technically inclined.

    Reply
  17. Stacey
    Stacey says:

    I love the way you hide your signature. I, being a noob, am getting lost on steps 4 and 5. I’m trying to do it with a drawn logo and not text. Any idea’s on where I may be getting stuck?

    Thank you,

    Stacey

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      You get stuck making the selection? Try Ctrl-clicking directly on the layer icon. Photoshop has some subtle differences as to where you have to click on the layer to make things happen. Just try clicking different parts of the layer and check if you see some marching ants (active selection)

      I hoe this helps.

      Reply
  18. Chris Mitchell
    Chris Mitchell says:

    G’day Klaus,

    I had some free time this afternoon so I put together an image using a few of your recipes. In particular I wanted to cook up a picture with a watermark like you have described. Excellent instructions once again! The result can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/phase-one/7667578578/in/photostream

    More generally, I really like your new website — terrific design, organisation and, of course, content.

    Thanks for everything.

    All the best,
    Chris

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Wow! That is an excellent vertorama you have created there. Awesome work, Chris!

      The watermark is nice and subtle. Well done! Thanks for your feedback on my website, and thanks for your support.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
  19. Kathy Grant
    Kathy Grant says:

    Klaus,
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I love looking at your photos and trying to find the logo. Like a puzzle! I will try this is the future.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Kathy,

      the little search game for the watermark is kind of an added value, isn’t it? It’s great to hear that you have fun with it.

      Cheers

      Reply
  20. Jared Youtsey
    Jared Youtsey says:

    Awesome technique!
    However, this simply does not work in CS5 on Windows:
    STEP 2: Select the image layer (Layer 0 in the screenshot below), hit Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V to copy and paste the selected part of that image layer. A new layer will be created that contains only the parts under signature.
    Ctrl-C Ctrl-V doesn’t paste anything. If I copy/create new layer/paste I get a WHITE watermark, not the values from the background? I had to create the new layer, then do a Copy Merged. Then I could paste it into the new layer. Not nearly as automatic as your write-up.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Jared,

      hu? The procedure you cited in your comment is nothing more than the straight-forward way to copy/paste in Photoshop.
      1. make a selection.
      2. activate a layer.
      3. Press CTRL-C and then CTRL-V

      I would be schocked if that did not work.

      Are you sure that you activated the right layer in the Layer panel before the copy/paste? Note that you will get a white watermark if you click on the white layer mask icon instead of the image icon. Photoshop will jst copy the white pixels. Make sure you really click on the image icon, not on the layer mask icon before copying.

      I hope this resolves the problem.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
  21. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Hi, this is great only I don’t get the transparency mask option in CS6 am I doing something wrong or has the menu changed?

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Michelle,

      I think the menu has not changed. But you need to have an active selection (some marching ants in the image) to get the ‘Add Transparency Mask’ option. For example, if you have a bunch of text layers, select the first one by CTRL-clicking on it. Then add the remaining ones by using the ‘Add Transparency Mask’ option.

      I hope this solves your problem.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
  22. Gary
    Gary says:

    Thanks Klaus, This was a lot of fun practicing. Now I know how to make a watermark. You have a beautiful site. I feel lucky to have it passed to me. I will pass it on myself. You are a real Teacher!

    Reply
  23. KIrk
    KIrk says:

    This is odd as I am replying to a comment that came in from this thread, but the comment doesn’t appear to be here. So, I will C&P it inline so you can see what my response is to.

    “I don’t know why you make this so difficult There are automated and powerful tools like Mass Watermark that can do the job easily for you.It can watermark 100s of images with few clicks and within minutes.There are additional options like adding EXIF Info,Resizing,Optimizing and even direct upload of watermarked images directly to your Picasa/Flickr web albums quickly and easily”

    There are definitely automated tools to do this job, as there are other tools for say, retouching. This is a version of any number of possibilities used in the creation of said watermarks. A lot of PP is done in Photoshop, however (as I am sure you know) and to learn to do things without having to switch to specialty applications is a plus for many (some are learning Photoshop as we speak and appreciate the different things they’ll be capable of doing once they’ve become more savvy). Plus . . . an action can be created after the first time following this procedure (successfully of course) that will render the entire process in seconds with a single click. At most a couple clicks, should there be pauses setting adjustments from within the action.

    I don’t condemn your suggestion MW, it’s just that there are specialty apps for everything and from the start of PP to the end, it is nice to be able to stay within a single application to carry them out.

    Eh just my 2 cents. I hope I didn’t spend too much. Thanks, Kirk

    Reply
  24. Michael W. Francis
    Michael W. Francis says:

    I am a complete beginner in the realm of photography, and on a limited budget, so purchasing the complete PS package is not doable at this time. However, I purchased PS Elements 10 and after watching Klaus, and reading, and watching, well you get the idea, I am glad to say that Elements can do the job. Granted you do not get the same magnitude of pixel manipulation as one would with PS, but for those on a budget and just starting out this is the way to go.
    I was able to duplicate the watermark/signature, beyond just basic, by using this program. As I am also learning the developing programs at the same time, Klaus and Elements are working very well for me.

    Thanks Klaus!!

    Reply
  25. pol
    pol says:

    hello…after doing all your steps above, when I tried to convert the image to JPEG, the watermark almost disappeared. It is hardly visible anymore.
    Can you please advise on how to properly convert this to JPEG without affecting the watermark visibility?

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi pol,

      you need to increase the layer style effects a bit before you export the image. Try increasing the “Bevel and Emboss” effect by increasing the “Size” and “Depth” parameters. To check how it will look, simply diplicate your image (Image > Duplicate…) and flatten the duplicate image. This will apply the affects in the same way they will appear in the final JPEG. You can do that a number of times to test different settings without much effort. When you like the result, export the image to JPEG.

      I hope this solves the problem.

      Ceers
      Klaus

      Reply
      • pol
        pol says:

        hi Klaus,

        it works fine now.
        bless you for sharing your knowledge and talent!

        (just delete my duplicate comments below)

        many thanks

        Reply
  26. pol
    pol says:

    hello Klaus,

    did all steps you mentioned in the tutorial.
    But when its time to flatten the image, or save in JPEG file, the watermark just became very subtle close to being invisible.

    if you know this problem, i would appreciate a feedback.

    Reply
  27. d
    d says:

    hello, i think you really have to update this tutorial. I have the same issue as many others, transparency mask is not available as an option in cs6.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi d,

      “Add Transparency Mask” is available in CS6 just as it is available in CS5. My guess is that you right-clicked in the wrong place. Your mouse has to on the layer icon. Example: If you want to add a text layer to your selection, right-click directly on the “T”. Clicking anywhere else on the layer in the layer palette will bring up a different pop-up menu.

      I have added a note to the tutorial above to make that clearer.

      I hope this helps you.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
  28. Maria
    Maria says:

    Hi Klaus,
    Amazing technique, I would love to be able to do this, but every time I get to “Add Transparency Mask” I get stuck. I’m using Elements 11, and I have clicked almost everywhere, and nowhere can I add transparency mask. Can you help me?
    I hope you’re making a video tutorial on this some day. :)
    Thanks.

    Sincerely
    Maria

    Reply
  29. Jimmy
    Jimmy says:

    Love this watermark, if only I could get it to work ! I get to step #7 ok, but when I go to save it I don’t know how to save it. At one point I think I did something right, but didn’t know how, and my initials appeared in step #4 on selecting the right spot for my template. The only thing is that it showed up ” black ” and not transparent. From there on everything went down the hill. Have done it many times and can never get it all the way to the end. What am I doing wrong ??????

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Jimmy,

      here are some things that may help you in getting it to work:

      How to save it: Simply save your template as a Photoshop (PSD) file. There is no magic here.
      Initials showing up black: You probably forgot to set the Blending Mode to Color Dodge (see Step 7 in Creating a Signature Template).

      I hope that helps you finish the process successfully. Let me know if you have additional questions.

      Regards
      Klaus

      Reply
      • Jimmy
        Jimmy says:

        Mr. Klaus
        Thank you for your speedy response to my previous comment. I finally got my transparent initials on my photo and placed them in the position I wanted ( Creative Watermark ). Now I am in step #2 on replacing the signature layer with actual image data. When hitting Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V to copy and paste the selected part of that image layer to create a layer with only the parts under the signature, nothing happens. Again I am lost and cannot get out of it. Don’t know if you can keep answering my questions but your assistance would help a lot as I am quite taken with this tutorial. Yes, I am not to proficient with Photoshop, but I have it, and would like to learn how to use it correctly. Photography was part of my mayor eons ago when digital photography and computers as we know them today, were non-existent. Again, thank you for your time and your knowledge.

        Reply
        • farbspiel
          farbspiel says:

          Hi Jimmy,

          good to hear that the steps before are working now.

          I suspect that your problems with copying the image parts is due to the fact that you did not properly select the image layer: Before you hit Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V, you need to click on the image icon on the respective layer you want to copy from to select it. Now this is a bit tricky because if you click on the layer mask (the white box to the right of the image icon on the layer) instead of the image icon itself, it’s not going to work. So, make sure you select the image icon on the correct layer and try it again. This should work.

          Yes, I do keep answering your questions. No problem with that. :) The only reason for not answering may be that I am deeply immersed in some other task or simply not on my computer. So bear with me if you don’t get a prompt answer.

          Regards
          Klaus

          Reply
  30. Jason
    Jason says:

    So I am also stuck at Replacing the signature layer with actual image data, I option click on the layer mask from the signature layer, then click on layer 0 hit cmmd c and cmmd v and nothing happens? I am getting so frustrated trying to do this step, please help.

    Thank You

    Reply
  31. Jason
    Jason says:

    AHHH Eureka! If anyone is using a mac and is running into issues with Replacing the signature layer use, Command click instead of option click and it’ll work :)

    Reply
  32. Colin
    Colin says:

    I have been trying fro ages and am stuck (using Photoshop Elements 11), in step 4 the “Add Transparency Mask” option does not appear? I have looked in all of the menus but cant find any way of doing this?
    Would really appreciate some help :)

    Reply
  33. Samuel
    Samuel says:

    Hi… is there a way to batch process the above, a standard signature template to multiple pictures in a folder?
    I am using Photoshop CS4 but tried automating this but its not possible as your colour dodge signature is on a layer and i need to move that duplicate layer to my target picture which works fine if its one at a time.. But I cant automate the process… Appreciate your help.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Samuel,

      Photoshop’s batch processing should be able to do that: The trick (while recording the action) is to duplicate the current file and give it a fixed name (e.g. “working doc”). Then open the watermark template and duplicate the respective layer to the “working doc”. When the batch on the open document finishes, include a “save as” command and make that an interactive command.

      If you do it like this, you only have to type a name for each image and the rest will be automatic. You can probably even automate this using the “File Naming” options in the Batch dialog box.

      I hope this gets you on the right path.

      Cheers
      Klaus

      Reply
  34. Maarten
    Maarten says:

    Hi Klaus,

    Thanks for your awesome tutorial. The only thing is.. i’m stuck at step 4. Do i hold CRTL and left click the first text layer, then right click the next text layer, add transperancy mask? Somehow my text layers don’t merge into the colorfill layer. Therefor, no signature can be seen after dupicating the colorfill layer into my final image. Should i not only give the text layers a transperancy mask, but also the colorfill layer? I have tried many times, many things, but still it doesn’t work. Thanks in advance.

    Kind regards,
    Maarten

    Reply
  35. Kortney
    Kortney says:

    I’m sure you are tired of answering, but like the others, I am having trouble with step 4. I am using Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 and even when I click DIRECTLY ON THE ‘T’… the pop up menu does not change :(

    Reply
  36. Mustang Joe
    Mustang Joe says:

    I’ve been a big fan of your work for years now and I started adding subtle logos to some of my images based on your tutorials. There’s an example here: (Hint: look at the carpet near the rear tire.)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mustangjoe/5750448685/in/set-72157626662355691/

    I took a slightly different approach to creating the logo though, based upon this tutorial from Julianne Kost (http://tv.adobe.com/watch/adobe-evangelists-julieanne-kost/pscs5-creating-transparent-logos-for-watermarks-and-overlays-in-photoshop/) where she creates a custom vector shape out of the logo. However, the rest of the process is based upon your technique.

    Thanks again for all that you do.

    Joe

    Reply
  37. Partha
    Partha says:

    Hi Farbspiel,

    I can’t seem to replicate these steps with Photoshop CC. Maybe it’s me since I am still learning. However, are there any differences you are aware about when trying this with CC?

    Thanks,
    Partha

    Reply
  38. Jason C
    Jason C says:

    Great tutorial! Just a tip to those having trouble in CS6 like I just did, you need to DELETE the mask Photoshop automatically adds to your color fill layer when creating it in step 3. Not sure why this happens, but because Photoshop automatically adds in this mask, the mask you attempt to add in step 5 is actually a VECTOR mask, which won’t work for the rest of the signature creation.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Maddie,

      I would never watermark / sign a photo I deliver to a customer, unless it’s fine-art and the signature is an integral part of it like the signature on a painting. Otherwise, leave it off. Watermarks are for marking/protecting images that go out into the wild.

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. [...] Onzichtbaar zichtbaar watermerk 20 januari 2013 Techniek closeup Het is altijd een dilemma. Je hebt een mooie foto gemaakt, zet hem op je website, maar je wilt voorkomen dat een ander je foto zonder je toestemming zomaar gebruikt. Een watermerk is een prima methode om je foto tegen oneigenlijk gebruik te beschermen. Het vervelende is echter dat een watermerk nogal lelijk is en het totale beeld verpest. De Duitse HDR fotograaf Klaus Hermann schrijft op de websie Farbspiel Photography een handige artikel om een watermerk in je foto te verwerken zonder dat deze teveel opvalt en de hele foto verpest. Stap voor stap wordt op de Engelstalige website voorgedaan hoe je in Photoshop je eigen logo kunt creëren en moet integreren in je foto. Er gaat enige tijd in zitten, maar je watermerk zal in eerste instantie niet opgemerkt worden door het publiek en is toch voorzien van je persoonlijke handtekening. Farbspiel Photography: Creative Watermarking – How to Integrate Your Signature into Your Photos [...]

  2. [...] the viewing experience. Photographer Klaus Herrmann has one solution: integrated watermarks. He writes, [Watermarking] seems to be a viable way of protecting your images from online theft, but a [...]

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