Let’s just face a simple fact from the start: If your images are on the Internet, they can be stolen. It’s really that simple. There’s the group of people who are sincerely copyright-dumb enough to not understand that the second you create an image it’s technically yours (and copyright to you!). There’s also the group who just don’t care. These are probably the most frustrating of all, because they know that the image they’re stealing is a protected piece that took a lot of time to create – but it doesn’t matter to them.
There’s only one surefire way of making sure that your images can’t be stolen. You watermark them.
Now, before you panic, let me say this – it only takes a couple of steps to create and use a watermark. What do you need? Don’t fall for all the fancy software that people try to sell you. You don’t need it. All that you need to have is Photoshop … that’s it.
The basic steps can be performed in any graphic program that can handle layers, but the shortcuts like creating a pattern or brush aren’t available in other programs. So, I’ve split this into two pieces. First, creating an identity graphic and/or a watermark pattern. The second piece is how you turn that watermark into a pattern or brush that you can use with the click of a button.
One: How to Make a Watermark
Watermarks, just for the sake of explanation, are those lines of text that are barely visible over an image. These lines make it virtually impossible for an image thief to steal your image and claim it as their own work – your fingerprints are literally all over it.
There are two types of watermark. The first is the most simple, nothing more than a slanted line of text that repeats over the image. The second is more of a brand, which can be used to “sign” your graphics. We’ll do both, starting with the text.
One – Type Your Text: Super easy. Open a new canvas (File, New) sized about 300 x 300 pixels and type your words in black. The words could be “Sample”, “Low Quality”, or your name. Just make sure it’s in a clean, easy-to-read font. There should be plenty of room for you to angle the font in the next step. Reference Illustration 01.
Two – Transform Your Text: Click Ctrl + T on your keyboard. This will add “handles” to the corners of your text. Rotate your text so that it angles to the left. Click the Move Tool when you’re done. Reference Illustration 02. Turn off the “Background” layer by clicking the eye beside it, and you can save this (if you’re not going to do the next steps) to use as a quick watermark.
Three – The Brand: Open another canvas (File, New) sized at 300 x 300 pixels. Use the same font that you used for your watermark text and type your name or nickname on the canvas in black. Then, add a brush or graphic to the canvas. Reference Illustration 03. Turn off the “Background” layer by clicking the eye beside it, and you can now save this file (if you’re not going to do the next steps to use as a quick signature.
Two: How to Save As a Pattern & Brush
Assuming that you have Photoshop and want a really easy, quick fix to your watermarking needs, continue on. Otherwise, just use the files you’ve saved and you’re good to go.
For the rest of us, we’re going to make a pattern out of our watermark text that will fill an entire canvas with one click. Then, we’re creating a brush of our brand that will allow us to sign our images just by selecting that brush. Even better? Photoshop lets you do all of this in one step each.
One – Create a Watermark Pattern: Make sure your background layer is still off. Then, click “Edit” and choose “Define Pattern”. Name the pattern something you’ll remember – like Watermark. Save!
Two – Create a Brush: Make sure the background layer on your brand image is still off. Then, click “Edit” and choose “Define Brush Preset”. Name the brush something you’ll remember – like Signature. Save!
Three: Using Your Watermark Pattern & Brush
This is the easiest step of all these easy steps. To use the brush, just open an image you want to sign and select the brush you saved. Use a contrasting color and click once on your image. All signed!
To use your watermark pattern, open an image you want to watermark. Then, create a new layer (Layer, New, Layer). Now, click “Edit” and choose “Fill”. Select your watermark pattern and click OK. You’ve got it watermarked! You can lower the “Opacity” of your watermark layer so that it isn’t so strongly visible. Reference Illustration 04.