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Create a Brush Based Watermark: A Photoshop Elements Tutorial

by Erin Peloquin on June 28, 2011 · 14 comments

After the Watermark tutorial for Photoshop Elements last week, lots of you asked how to create a watermark to apply with a brush.

It’s easy, and I’ll show you how shortly.  Let’s talk about the differences between the two methods first.  The creation process is very similar – it’s the application process that’s different.

Remember that, if you’re posting a photo on the internet, you want to resize it before applying the watermark.  Follow the tutorial here or download MCP’s Finish It for Photoshop Elements to resize, sharpen and adding branding bars or Frames to your photo all at once.

Using the PNG method detailed last week, to put the watermark on an image, you go to the File Menu, select Place, and then Navigate to the location of your PNG.  Using the brush method, however, you select your brush tool, put on the appropriate “tip,” size it and select the color.  I like the PNG method better because it takes me fewer clicks.  But for you brush lovers out there, this is what you do.

Follow the steps in last weeks tutorial about creating the watermark.  Choose black as the color to create it in, because it’s easiest to see.  You can “paint” the watermark onto your photo in whatever color you’d like after it’s made.  Just make sure you use only one color right now.

(Yes, this means if you’re using the this method, you can’t have a multi-colored brush.  Good question!)

Once you’ve created the watermark, you’ll have something that looks like this:

Select the Magic Wand Tool, turn off Contiguous, and set the Tolerance to 0.  Click once inside of a colored area of your watermark to select it.  You want to end up with Dancing Ants around all the text and graphics.  If you need to add unselected areas to your selection, click on the 2nd button from the left of your tool options bar (just under the Menu bar at the top left of your workspace).  This button says “Add to Selection” when you hover over it.

When the dancing ants are where you want them, go to the Edit Menu and select Define Brush from Selection.  Insert a memorable name into this dialog box, and hit ok:

Your brush will first appear in the category of brushes that was active when you created the it.  However, you need to create its own category to save it in an easy-to-find place.  To save your new watermark, select the Brush Tool and click on the brush picker drop down menu:

Click on the double arrows and select Preset Manager.

In the Preset Manager, highlight your new brush and click on Save Set.  Name it something memorable (again) and save it to the default location that pops up.  Click Done on the Preset Manager dialogue.

This last step will make sure your brush is permanently loaded into Elements.  Pull down the brush picker drop down menu again and click on the double arrows.  This time, select Load and choose the brush set you just saved.

That’s it. The watermark has been created.  Are you ready to use it?

After preparing an image for the internet, add a new, blank layer to your image.  Select your brush tool, and select this new brush from the drop down menu.  Select a color (I prefer white).  With this new blank layer highlighted, put your watermark over the area where you want the brush to appear.  Increase the size by using the ] key (above Enter on your keyboard) and decrease the size with the [ key.  Click once to apply the watermark, and then adjust its opacity, if necessary, by reducing the opacity of the layer.

You’ll have a funny looking brush, but it does the job.  It will look something like this:


Ok, now it’s your turn.  Which do you like better, a brush watermark or a PNG?  And why?


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg M June 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

great tutorials–thanks!


wayoutnumbered June 28, 2011 at 11:48 am

I’ve only used a png but I’m thinking I need to create a brush….seems like it would be more easily accessible…I’ll have to try it and then give my opinion!
Thanks for this tutorial!


Linda Deal July 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I just created my very first brush. And it’s a watermark brush at that. And I was able to save it in the brush tools. I am very happy. All thanks to you. You are appreciated.


Linda Deal August 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I feel so powerful. I can create my own brushes now. This is the second time you’ve helped me in terms that I can understand. You are appreciated.


jamieS March 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

I love it, thank you! This really speeds up my process when processing multiple pictures for tutorials!


Erin March 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm

You’re welcome!


Jennifer September 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I have made my brush, but I am confused on how to use it. I open I click on selection brush tool, and then find my brush. I apply it to my image, yet when I save it, its not on my image. I have tried doing a new layer like in your tutorial, but that doesn’t work. It just causes my image to turn the color i have selected for the brush. And adjusting the opacity doesn’t help.
Please help!


Kassie January 25, 2013 at 2:57 am

Thanks so much for this easy tutorial! I created a brush watermark & it’s just what I wanted! You can see it here, http://goo.gl/nH3ln :)


Trisha February 13, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Hi there, I have made my watermark into a brush, followed all of your steps and did everything right…..atleast I thought lol. I then, go to use the brush and it is not there, and neither are any of my previous ones that someone else had made for me that I was using. Please help, I am freaking out lol


Kathy April 5, 2013 at 11:13 am

I seem to be having the same problem as Trisha and Jennifer. I have followed the steps, however, I keep saving to photo and it does not appear after saving. Now, I go back into to locate brush and it is no longer there. I have saved the brush on three different occasions (following steps)and I can see it is still in there but only when creating a new brush. Can you please help me? Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. I can’t wait to figure it out.


Lynn July 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Ok, I have created the watermark. I see it on the photo when I go to save the photo, but the watermark is not saving to the photo. What am I doing wrong? Please help!!!


lauri July 8, 2014 at 11:30 pm

I have exactly the same problem as the above commenters… namely I get a brush that remains “ants” and wont save to be seen on the photo. very frustrating. what am I not doing?


Mandy August 15, 2014 at 5:10 am

Thanks for this tutorial, I’ve found so much on your website is so useful.

However I’m having trouble with this brush watermark too. I found the instructions for creating the brush worked well for me but I cannot get any image to save with the brush visible.

Crossing my fingers for a reply!


Erin Peloquin August 23, 2014 at 6:50 am

Mandy, I’m not sure what you’re asking. Are you saying you can’t open images with the brush activated?


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