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Create a Watermark: A Photoshop Elements Tutorial

by Erin Peloquin on June 22, 2011 · 71 comments

Would you like to learn how to use Photoshop Elements or Lightroom to create images that are watermark-worthy? These workshops will make it happen for you. Check out the free mini workshops available for the Lightroom or Elements+Lightroom workshops!

Photoshop Elements gives us at least two different ways to create watermarks.  My favorite is to put a logo in a PNG file that you can place anywhere you want on any file at any size and opacity.  The other way is to create a brush – lots of people use this method too.

Check out these related articles if you’d like more specific watermark info:

For now, let’s talk about creating a PNG watermark.

Start by creating a new file in Elements.  Size it about 500×500 pixels at 72 pixels per inch resolution for a circular or square watermark.    Wider and shorter if you want to protect the entire width of your image – maybe up to 1500 pixels wide.  Make the Background Contents Transparent.  If you’d like an action set that speeds up this process, check out MCP’s Finish It.  It sizes and sharpens your images for the internet, plus it includes frames, branding bars, and rounded corner options for your photos.

Did you notice I chose a resolution of 72 pixels per inch?  That’s the resolution I use for photos that I’m going to post on the internet.  I only watermark my internet images – not my printed photos.  If you want a watermark for printed photos, you’ll need to increase your resolution to whatever you normally print at, and possibly the size of the file as well.

In this file, you will design your watermark.  Or, if you have already have a logo, you can copy and paste it here.

Now, I can’t help you with creative design or cute graphics.  You’ll have to do that on your own.  But you might start with text and then add some design elements.  If you want a particular shape/item/animal/etc., like a balloon, google “free photoshop brush balloon.”  Photoshop and Elements use exactly the same kind of brushes, so don’t worry about compatibility.  Do check the terms of use of the freebies you find, however, and make sure the creator is ok with you using this brush for your business.

While you’re at this creativity stuff, think about the color you want to use.  Some people use color watermarks, others use completely transparent ones, some use black, others (like me), use white.  I chose white because it distracts the least from the image and shows up nicely regardless of the opacity I choose.

For this example, let’s stick with what’s available to us in Elements – text and a few shapes and other doodads.  And let’s make them white.

I started with the Custom Shape Tool in Elements.  It’s near the bottom of the Tool Box and might be hiding under the Rectangle Tool.  In the tool options bar at the top, I selected a hot air balloon shape from the drop down menu.  It was in the objects subsection.

I set my foreground color to white and drew the hot air balloon in the middle of my new file.  Next, I added text boxes where you could insert your company name.  The file looks like this (with a black background added so that you can see the white design):

Here are the layers:


For those of you with later versions of Elements, don’t forget that you can get graphics from the Content Panel.  I found these ballons:

It looked like this when I put one on my watermark:

To convert something like that blue balloon to white, you would probably use your Magic Wand tool to select the inside of the balloon, add a new blank layer, and fill the selection with white.

Once you’ve created a watermark that you like, save it as a PNG.  Go to File/Save As, and in the Format box, select PNG.  You will get a dialog asking about Interlacing.  I don’t know what that means and always select None.  Seems to work well enough!

So that’s it!  Your watermark is created. But how do you put it on a photo?

First, remember that this photo is going to be presented on the internet.  Is this photo sized appropriately?  You want the resolution to be 72 pixels per inch and the width to be no more than probably 1500 pixels.  Check out this article if you need help with sizing.

Also, do any sharpening before adding a watermark.

(You can use MCP’s free Crystal Clear action for Elements to resize and sharpen in one quick and easy step.  It’s part of the free High Def Sharpening action set.)

Once the photo to be watermarked is sized and sharpened, go to the File Menu and Select Place.

When you click on Place, a window will open asking you to navigate to the location of the file you want to place (your watermark).

After navigating to this location, press the Place button and your image will look something like this.

The file is placed over the center of your image.  Click and drag to move it where you want, and click on one of the squares on the corner to resize the watermark.  Finally, adjust the opacity of this new layer in your layers palette.

After moving and sizing, I reduced the opacity of the new layer to 50%.  Here is my final version:


Once you create the watermark, adding it to an image is a short process.



{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela June 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

I would like to know how to use the brush method.


ingrid June 22, 2011 at 10:27 am

Awesome! Thanks. I have a watermark brush I made but I think I’m liking this way more.


ali June 22, 2011 at 11:16 am

Easy peasy lemon squeezy….thanks, I have been messing around with watermarks and this should help me be more consistent! :)


Erin June 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Hi Ali. To answer your other questions, I use a PNG file because it preserves transparency. Otherwise, your watermark would look like a black or white box with text and graphics inside and would hide your photo. Using a PNG, the only part of your photo is hidden is the part behind the text and graphics themselves. And yes, you could add a layer to your photo. To do that, you would have to open the file, copy the layer, and paste it into the file you wanted to watermark. To me, it’s easier to use the Place command.

In Elements, there is no way to batch watermark. You can in Lightroom however, with slightly less control over where the watermark goes. If you want to speed up your Elements process, you might look at MCP’s Finish It.


ali June 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Excellent, yep I remember now I had that transparency prob when I tried making a wm before…and I agree the place is quicker and easier….off to check mcp finish it now. Thank you so much!!


Ivan Nikitin November 14, 2012 at 2:38 am

>In Elements, there is no way to batch watermark.
There is a batch watermark feature. In Elements 11 at least: http://www.visualwatermark.com/blog/2012/11/14/watermark-photoshop-elements/


SWJenn June 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm

If you have a LOT of photos to watermark, one great way to do it is to use the automatic watermark function in PSE. Go to File> Process Multiple Files> and at the right you’ll see Watermark. Type your text into the Custom Text window and set the font, size and color. Then go back to the top and tell it what folder of images to apply the watermark to. This works great if you resize your photos for the Web into a separate folder! You can even use the Process Multiple Files to resize an entire folder of pics. But of course, if you want a cute, pretty image for a watermark, you need to do it as described in this post (or use a brush). Great tutorial, I’ll be tweeting it!!


Erin June 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Love that tip about Process Multiple Photos. I’ve never added text that way. Thanks Jenn!


SWJenn June 23, 2011 at 7:24 am

I don’t remember when they added it to PSE, but most people don’t know it’s there. If you’re doing a ton of photos, it’s the only way to go! Also good for adding say, the name of an event, or a date, or anything else you can think of!


kr December 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I have been beating my head against a wall trying to figure out how to do this to my photos! This was sooooooooo easy and quick I can’t believe it. This is going to make posting my photos online so much easier and worry free. Not that it can’t be photoshopped out but that’s OK.

Thank you both again!


Erin December 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm

You are welcome!

martha October 23, 2012 at 11:55 am

Thank you so much to both SWJenn and Erin – could not believe how simple this is. Many many thanks!


YASMINA June 22, 2011 at 9:35 pm



Erin June 22, 2011 at 10:27 pm

What size is your photo?


kr December 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm

mine came out really small first try to then I went back and increased font size as well as changing the font. Worked perfectly.


Joyce June 23, 2011 at 11:22 am

Thanks so much for this much needed lesson – I have been wanting to do this for so long and messed around with it once but what I came up with was very cumbersome.


Angela June 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm

do you know where I can download free graphics to make logos for photo shop elements 9


Lester June 26, 2011 at 9:43 pm

1000+1 Free Graphics


China June 24, 2011 at 10:06 am

Mine is just a huge white square:( what did I do wrong?


Erin June 24, 2011 at 10:12 am

You probably saved it as a jpeg instead of a png.


Charlene June 24, 2011 at 11:54 am

Brush method please!! :)


thatgirlblogs June 25, 2011 at 10:40 am

thanks – I ended up making a brush – not sure if I did it the right way, but once I had my logo saved as a PNG, I just opened it in PSE and chose “define brush.” worked!

I linked back to you in my post.


Janeil June 26, 2011 at 11:57 am

I would love to see the brush method too!


latrice June 29, 2011 at 7:37 am

Brush method please!


Erin June 29, 2011 at 8:46 am
JM July 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm

How do you get your watermark where it has the transparent band across the top or bottom of the photo with your logo inside?


Jessica August 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I can’t seem to get my blackground black. Any idea what I am doing wrong? Thanks!


Erin August 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm

No idea, sorry, there are lots of things that could be wrong.


Angel August 11, 2011 at 11:39 am

Just to add to the discussion, you can actually “batch process” in Elements and add a watermark. If you have several files open, just go to FILE,
Process Multiple Files, and make your editing choices — among them is an option to add a simple watermark!!!


tami January 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Angel, can you add your file or artwork to this simple watermark you speak of? If so, how? Thanks. This is sooo informative!


Johnny February 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I open it and it shows up white on black but I cant get rid of the black box???


Linda Lehmusvirta February 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Thank you so much! You explained this beautifully and now I’m on my way. As soon as I finish this blog, I’ll read your other tips. Really, a gazillion thanks! Linda


Erin February 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

You are welcome! Thank you! And I love KLRU! Especially Downtown Abbey….


Elena March 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

This worked great for me so thank you!


Sonya May 10, 2012 at 10:40 am

Can you explain the brush method?



Erin May 11, 2012 at 10:15 am
Rhoda May 14, 2012 at 5:46 am

I have tried this and it worked, but now I am stuck with a PSD. and I can’t add it to my Facebook page…..any clue to what I am doing wrong?


Erin May 14, 2012 at 8:28 am

Did you read the part above about how to save as a PNG?


Shirley July 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Thank you so much! i’ve been looking for an easy tutorial for a while now (ok maybe i’ve just been to lazy to actually really read everything etc… ;)) but this was by far the best and easiest! woohooo


Erin July 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Thank YOU Shirley! Glad I could help!


Jennifer Fraser August 2, 2012 at 9:41 am

You are SOOOOO my new favorite person! I’ve been searching for two days for instructions on how to do this and this was the only way that actually worked for me – and so simple! Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Dakota October 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I followed the directions on how to create a watermark and saved it as png. file. I went to place it on one of my photos and it still had the big white box. Could you help?


Dakota October 27, 2012 at 1:21 am

I figured it out! I just missed the direction about setting it transparent when you made a new one! Your directions are wonderful! :)


Debby S December 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Thanks so much for this. I struggle with all aspects of PS, this was so well explained. The only problem I have is saving the file. What format do you use to save it? The only way it will open is if I save it as a Photoshop file. I tried jpeg and it won’t open.


Erin December 10, 2012 at 10:31 am

Debby, read again through the instructions above and look for the info about saving it as a PNG.


maria December 30, 2012 at 11:30 pm

hi erin!
i already have a logo…so where exactly do i “copy and paste it here?”
thanks for your help!


Erin December 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm

In the file you created in the steps prior to the copy and paste step.


kim January 4, 2013 at 10:28 pm

this is by far the most helpful website available. thank you


M.Fairless January 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm

WOW! Thank you SO much! This was one of the easiest things to follow! Whenever I’ve looked for some direction on the internet, they always seem to leave something out. Not you! Perfect directions! Thanks so much!!!! :)


Erin January 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Awesome! Thanks so much, Michelle!


Bianca January 27, 2013 at 12:09 am

THANK YOU! this was sooo helpful and easy to follow! :)


Hannele February 9, 2013 at 6:46 am

I am so happy I found this! All works until I do the “Place”. What happen is that I get an empty file without my signature (only a “box” with the “cross”) placed over my image. When I click and drag the whole image moves. Same with resizing, the image changes. Tried many times now but with the same result. I cannot figure out what I do wrong.


Erin February 11, 2013 at 10:45 am

If the file is empty, you didn’t create the watermark correctly.


Jenn April 7, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I just created my very first logo and watermark with your tutorial, thank you SO much!!


William May 4, 2013 at 2:39 am

Good morning and thank you for your informative and helpful advice,I have Elements 9 and the problem is that when I watermark multiple files the program disappears and then reappears when the job is done,can you help please.Thank you.William


sarah June 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I have saved it has png and did the transparent background and still a white box when I place it on my photo…..


Erin Peloquin July 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm

You must have missed a step, Sarah.


Felix Masi August 13, 2013 at 2:32 am

SWJenn, Thank you! it worked for me!


Ramon November 5, 2013 at 1:10 am

Guys I want to put a watermark ton of pics, but my watermark is a logo I know how to put one by one coping the layer but I want to do it at once !! how can I do ?


Ivan November 8, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Ramon, you should use “Process Multiple Files” menu item: http://www.visualwatermark.com/blog/2012/11/14/watermark-photoshop-elements/


Ramon November 9, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Thanks any the way (The batch engine in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 doesn’t allow you to use images or vector graphics as watermarks.

Read more at: http://www.visualwatermark.com/blog/2012/11/14/watermark-photoshop-elements/


Laura May 5, 2014 at 9:51 am

HI! Thank you SO much for this article! I had never used ANY photo editing programs before, and this just totally simplified it :-)
My question is: I understand how to make (and save and insert) a watermark when you make a totally new design, but I can’t seem to get it to work with my existing logo! I’ve tried changing the colours around but nothing seems to work – the watermark shows up as a square with my logo inside. Help?? What am I doing wrong??


Alvin June 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Is it the same principle if I just wanted my name on the pictures I put on Flickr and other posts


Jennifer July 29, 2014 at 9:10 am

I already have a logo created but when I create the new file it won’t let me “copy and paste”. Any ideas?


Ajay Watt August 25, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Thank you so much as I was fighting with watermarks for a while and this process is so awesome!!! thank you for sharing!!


duane September 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I tried the batch method for watermarking on PSE 11 but its not working. I don’t see anything on the image. I followed all the steps but still i don’t see any watermark…
can anyone help?


Erin Peloquin September 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Hi Duane. The method I described above doesn’t work with the batch options in PSE.


Traci Nelson October 29, 2014 at 9:37 am

Thank you for this, but I have a question. My image turned out great, but it has a white background and I want a transparent background. Could you tell me what I’m doing wrong? Thank you.


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