How to Watermark Photos in Photoshop Elements – Any Version

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Create a Watermark in Photoshop Elements

Watermarked Photo
Text and Images © Liz Masoner

Love them or hate them, a watermark is a quick and easy way to stamp your ownership on photos you share on the Internet. Although they're certainly not foolproof, watermarks make it easier to prove that photo thieves knew that they were stealing when they took your photo.

This tutorial explains how to watermark your photos. It uses Photoshop Elements 10 as an example, but it should work in any version or program that allows layers.

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Create a New Layer

Create a New Layer
Text and Images © Liz Masoner

Create a new blank layer with a photo open in full editing mode. You can do this either through the Layer menu or with the shortcut Shift-Cmnd-N on Mac or Shift-Ctrl-N on a PC. We'll be adding the actual watermark to this new empty layer so we can manipulate it easily without modifying the underlying image.

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Create the Text

Create the Text
Text and Images © Liz Masoner

Now it's time to actually add your text or design for the watermark. Your watermark can be plain text, or text plus the copyright symbol: Alt+0169 on a PC or opt-G on Mac. It can be a shape, a logo or a combination of these. If you have a custom brush defined with your text, use it now. Otherwise, type in your text. I've used a strong font with my name and the copyright symbol for this tutorial. You can use any color, but different colors show up better and blend better on certain photos. 

Related: Free Custom Shapes - Common Symbol Shapes

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Creating the Emboss

Creating the Emboss
Text and Images © Liz Masoner

Although watermarks can be as simple as a logo on a photo, many people use an embossed effect that looks nearly transparent. This can make the photo more easily visible while still preventing printing of the photo.

Start by changing the layer blend style to soft light. The amount of transparency will vary depending on the font style and the original color of the text – 50 percent grey is the most transparent. Next select a bevel style for your watermark. This comes down to personal preference. I usually prefer a simple outer or simpler inner bevel. You can further adjust the visibility of your watermark by changing the opacity of the text layer.

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Some Thoughts on Watermark Use and Placement

Watermarked Photo
Text and Images © Liz Masoner

There is a rather vocal movement on the Internet decrying the use of any watermark on images, claiming they "ruin them" and don't stop theft. I've even seen some go so far as to tell photographers to "get off the Internet" if they don't want their images stolen.

Don't listen to them. Although watermarks don't prevent theft, they're like the VIN number on your car. They're identifying marks that help you prove that not only is the image yours, but the thief knew it was yours. Watermarks can also act as advertising. Your website address on your watermark can lead potential customers to your site.

Watermarks don't have to cross the main part of the image as I did in this example. Pick a corner for your logo where it would be difficult to simply crop the photo to remove it. 

In the end, the choice of where to place the watermark(s) or whether to use one at all is yours. Don't let snobby Internet trolls shout you down from what you decide.

Also see: Can I Remove a Watermark from a Picture?