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16 February 2009

Add a Copyright Watermark to a Batch of Photos

Watermark Droplets: 

You may have seen several ways of watermarking your photos, and you probably use a handful of them. They need to be resized, repositioned, and adjusted based on your image’s orientation and resolution. I’m going to teach you two techniques which will hopefully change all of that. The first is how to create a watermark that will show up in the same position on every image you apply it to. The second (if you are using CS or higher) will be how to use something called a “Droplet” so that you can enjoy a cup of coffee while your computer does the work of watermarking all the photos you want, with ONE simple mouseclick!

The great thing about this technique is that no matter what size or resolution your image is, the watermark we create here will show up the same proportion on all of the images you apply it to. Be it images sized down for the web, or larger 300ppi images, the final result will always be the same.
The first thing we need to do is create the watermark we are going to use. We are going to do something unusual here, and create a watermark image that is fantastically large, larger than any image you would normally want to watermark. Let’s fire up Photoshop and begin:

1) Create a new image by going to File>New… and make a image. Title it appropriately, perhaps “Centered Watermark” in this case. Use the following settings: Width and Height of 6000 pixels at a resolution of 300 pixels/inch, in RGB 8-bit color with white as the document’s background color. Like this:

 

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2) On your new black document, create the watermark image you would like to use. It can be text, a copyright symbol, your company’s logo, or whatever you desire. Here I will use the copyright symbol and the name of my website: PhotographyBB.com

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3) Now we need to edit this logo so that it will look suitable on any of our images. If your logo contains several layers, merge them together without merging them to the background layer. To do this easily, turn off the visibility of the background (white) layer by clicking off the eyeball icon on that layer in the layers palette. Then go to the menu: Layer>Merge Visible, and once this has run, turn back on your background layer visibility. Next, make sure that your “logo” layer is the active layer, and go to the menu Layer>Layer Style>Bevel and Emboss… You can use the default settings or adjust them to your taste, however, there is one thing you will need to change. Click on the “Blending Options: Default” setting at the top of the layer style dialog box, and drag the “Fill Opacity” slider all the way to 0% like this:

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Now you can delete the background layer by dragging it to the trash can in the layers palette. You should be left with a transparent “beveled and embossed” watermark logo! Save this file as a Photoshop Document (PSD) to your system. I recommend you create a “Watermarks” folder on your computer, perhaps inside your main images directory. This is where you will save this watermark image, along with any others you create. Name this file appropriately, like “Copyright Watermark.psd.”

Save it, and close this file.

4) The next step is to open an image which you would like to watermark. With your image open, we need to create an action to apply the watermark (you’ll see why in just a moment!).

To create a simple watermarking action, open your Actions Palette (Window>Actions). Create a new action set, by clicking on the little folder icon at the bottom of the Actions Palette. Name this folder “Watermark Actions.” Next, you can create the action by clicking on the “Create New Action” icon just beside that little folder, again at the bottom of the Actions Palette. When the dialog box appears, name this action something similar to the name (it doesn’t have to be exact) of the watermark image you created, and click Record.

5) With the action recording, we need to get the watermark image onto your photo. We are going to use a very cool command called “Place.” Using the place command is what makes the magic happen, so that our watermark image will appear the same size, no matter what original image resolution or orientation we are using. Not only will it make the watermark the same size, but it will be centered to each and every image, everytime! That’s the reason that this action will work so well on all of your images; you will no longer need to use different techniques, or constantly resize your watermark each time you apply it to a different image. Let’s see it in action!

Go to the menu: File>Place… When the dialog box appears, choose the watermark image that you created earlier, and click Place. You’ll see your watermark image appear on top of the image you are watermarking. All you need to do now is set the watermark by clicking Enter.

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6) Save your photo using the File>Save As… menu, and choose the JPEG format. Use the “Save as a copy” option by clicking the little checkbox on before you click save. That way, it will not save over your original image. You can now click the Stop icon at the bottom of the Actions Palette to stop the action recording.

Your watermarking action is now complete and you can now use it on any photo simply by opening your image, bringing up the Actions Palette, and clicking the “Play” icon at the bottom of the Actions Palette. The watermark will now be placed in the center of each image, at the same size, everytime!

“But wait, this still sounds like a lot of work! Sure, I don’t need to resize and reposition my watermark anymore, but I still have to open hundreds of photos, and do this each time is still a drag…” Or is it? It may be a drag, but in this case it’s going to be a “Drag and Drop.” (Apologies for the corny wordplay!)

Remember I mentioned something about “Droplets”? Here’s where the “drag and drop” comes in!

7) Just when you thought you were finished, there’s yet another step. I promise you that this one will make your life much easier, and save you loads of time in the process. We are going to create a Photoshop Droplet. A “Droplet” is simply an executable icon to which you can drag and drop not only images, but whole folders of images, which will then call a Photoshop Action, apply the action, and save each image. The beauty of Droplets and Actions is that they are very small in size, since they are just a series of commands. They can therefore be shared very easily through email with colleagues or partners for processing image shoots, and the results will be the same everytime (although if you are sharing them, don’t forget to include any supplementary files used in the actions, such as the watermark image in this case). Let’s create one!

In Photoshop (CS or higher) go to the menu: File>Automate>Create Droplet…

When the dialog box appears, choose the following options:

Save Droplet In: Choose a folder where you would like to save your Droplet.

Play: Here is where you will choose your Watermark Action Set, and the Action within that set. In this example, I named my watermarking actions folder “Watermark Actions,” and the action name I chose was “PBB Copyright Centered” (which was my action with the copyright symbol and my web address below).

Leave the next four checkboxes unchecked.

Desination: Choose “Folder” and click the “Choose” button below it to select the folder where you would like your outputted images to appear in.

Make sure the “Override Action Save As Commands” box is CHECKED. This overrides the save function which runs in your action, and uses the Droplet save function instead, which gives us more control over the filenames.

File Naming: There are lots of options for naming the images that your Droplet creates. It’s a matter of preference, but personally I like to use the first box as a description of what my Droplet does (Watermark), followed by the original document name, followed by the extension (based on the extension of your original images. ie JPEG, TFF, etc…). I also like to turn the Mac OS compatibility on, so that my filenames are compatible to both Mac and PC.

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After that, simply click OK and your Droplet will appear as an icon in the folder of your choice.

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At the beginning of this article I mentioned that you could edit entire folders of images with ONE simple mouseclick. To run your Droplet, click-hold and drag the folder containing the images you would like to watermark, and drop it onto your Droplet. Photoshop will do the rest, watermarking all of the images (regardless of their size and orientation) in the folder and saving them to the new folder you specified. Now you have a tool to use which can save you lots of valuable time and energy!

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22 Responses

  1. Michael Hill

    Hi, I get to the point where I am to save as a jpeg copy in the action and the option to save as a jpeg is not available?

  2. Hi Michael,

    Great question. There are a couple of reasons why you may not be seeing the JPG option as a filetype. First off, ensure that you are using the menu: File > Save as… and check the little checkbox that says “Save as a copy” so that you don’t save over the original by accident. Also, see if the dropdown menu of different filetypes gives you JPG (or JPEG) as an option. If it is grey’d out there is one possibility as to why.

    Go back to your image and check under the menu: Image > Mode… and ensure that your image is in 8-bit and RBG format. Since copyright watermarks are only needed for web images, there is no need to work with anything higher than 8-bit images and since they are for the web, RGB is the suitable colour space.

    Let me know if that helps and if now we’ll get to the bottom of it!

  3. Michael Hill

    Dave,

    Thank you … that was it … it was 16 bit and not 8 bit as needed for jpeg’s. What a great ‘help line service’ … fast response and fixed the problem … almost unheard of in cyber space these days! Well done and thanks for the great watermarking process … best I’ve ever come across! PhotographyBB is a great find and I will highly recommend it to my photography contacts. Cheers!

  4. Hi Michael

    Loved the info on how to make the watermark itself, particularly the Place command. However, my droplet doesn’t work. When I drop a sub-directory of images on it, Photoshop CS3 opens up, but nothing happens after that point.
    I re-checked your instructions for any errors I may have made, and can’t find any. I ran a manual action on a single image and that works fine. So it seems the droplet isn’t telling PS to process the images.

    Any clues?

  5. Michael – thanks so much for this tutorial. I’m having a problem. I’m using Photoshop CS. When I try to Place the watermark, the psd file is grayed out. I’ve tried saving as a jpeg,png and gif – all are grayed out. Would appreciate any tips to help make this work as this would save a lot of time.

    Best regards,

    Maggie

  6. Great, but i want my watermarks at the bottom right hand corner of my images. When i use the “place” command it works well, but if the orientation of the picture changes (vertical vs hortizontal), the watermark moves. How can i get this action to work: placing my watermark at the bottom right of the images, no matter if the image its horizontal or vertical

  7. holly

    I am trying to do what this last poster posted, but I see there was no response, can you email me the instructions to make watermarks go to bottom edge right side?

  8. This is immensely helpful! I was wondering though if there was a way to add a watermark to the corner instead and still have it work for all image sizes. Any corner is okay.

  9. Donna Wilk

    Dave,

    I am having the same trouble as Maggie Reddy, the psd file is greyed out and I don’t know how to save it as a transparent pdf. Any other suggestions? Your help will be very much appreciated. I have Photoshop 8 and Mac OS X 10.5.8. Thanks in advance!

    Donna

  10. Nicholaus

    This DOES NOT work for images of different sizes. I’ve tried it with images that are different sizes, and the action aligns the signature to the bottom right corner, then nudges it up 20 pixels, and to the left 20 pixels. It ends up being in different spots on the images – can someone please help me find a TRUE solution to the issue of not being able to batch ‘copywright’ images of all shapes/sizes/resolutions? I really hoped this would work…

  11. Tricia Muehlbauer

    Thank you for the tutorial. My logo is in a png file. Does it need to be a psd? When i use ‘place’ it turns my png file to a smart object.
    I am trying to get my logo in the bottom RH side and have aligned with right and bottom but when i do a square image the logo is larger than on a 4×6 proportion. What size should my logo be before i hit ‘place’(or can i transform it once it is placed?) and how do i tell it to make the longest side of my image 720 pixels?

  12. jessica

    So – Some of you were asking how to get it in a bottom corner. I resized my logo to fit in the very bottom right corner of the 6000 by 6000 block. It’s been working on every photo I’ve used it on so far but it does occured to me that I haven’t tried a portrait view yet.

  13. Kathryn

    Thank you for this information! I just spent time going through the whole process. My question is there a way to “Place” the watermark in the lower right corner of the image? I just like that it doesn’t cover the image as much and isn’t as “in your face”. I’d appreciate any feedback

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