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Create a Watermark: A Photoshop Elements Tutorial

by Erin Peloquin on June 22, 2011 · 70 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.



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