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Watermarking Your Photos: Part 3 – Making Frames

Welcome to the third post in our series on Digital Watermarking Techniques! Many of you have asked about using frames, and while they are not a typical “watermark” so to speak, they do offer the same limited protections that a conventional watermark does. The use of frames as a watermark per se, is a rather controversial decision, and some would say it serves a more aesthetic purpose. As we discussed in our previous posts on watermarking, unless you cover your whole image with an unsightly watermark, NO watermark technique provides 100% protection for your photos from the online image-bandits. However, using as frame such as the following, does lend a nice finishing touch while letting the viewers know more about yourself, website, and photo location. Of course, these techniques can be modified to suit a number of styles, so feel free to experiment and have some fun with this!

Step 1: Action!

To make the automation of this process easier for future images, let’s start by creating a Photoshop Action which can be used over and over again with one-click.

Open your Actions Palette (Menu: Window > Actions) and at the bottom of the Actions palette, click on the little folder icon to create a new Actions Set. When the dialog box pops up, name this set “Watermark Frames” or something along those lines.

Next, click on the “Create New Action” icon (at the bottom of the Actions palette) and name this Action “Poster Frame 1″ while making sure it belongs to the Watermark Frames Set which you just created. Once you click OK, you’ll notice that the little red “record” icon is lit at the bottom of the Actions palette, indicating that your Action is now recording.

Step 2: It’s for the web, so resize it!

Since we are dealing with images intended for web sharing, let’s resize the photo using the methods we’ve previously discussed. Go to the menu: File > Automate > Fit Image… and constrain your photo to 900 x 900 pixels (or whichever maximum dimensions you decide are appropriate).

Step 3: Starting the Frame

We’re going to start building the frame from the inside outward, so let’s add some detail to the edge of our photo now. Double click on the “Background” layer in the layers palette, and rename this layer to “photo” or simply the default which is “Layer 0.” This tells Photoshop that our photo is no longer going to be the “background” layer, which allows us to do some additional editing to it.

Add a stroke to this layer by going to the menu: Layer > Layer Style > Stroke…

Use an inside stroke of 1 to 2 pixels, with the color set as black.

Next, go to the menu: Layer > Layer Style > Inner Glow…

First, click on the glow color (default is a pale yellow) and change it to black. Next, change the blend mode of this layer to “Multiply” from the drop-down menu. You can choose the best settings for your image, but I used a size of 5 pixels, and changed the technique from “softer” to “precise.” Feel free to play around with any of the settings to see how they affect your image. As you’ll see from the result, this adds a nice inner shadow to your photo.

Step 4: Building the Outer Frame

Hold down the Control (PC) or Command (Mac) key, and click on the “Create New Layer” icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. This creates a new layer under our photo layer.

With this new layer active in the layers palette, go to the menu: Image > Canvas Size…

Here you can change the canvas size to add some space around your photo. Make sure you click on the “Relative” checkbox, then you can decide how large you want your border to be. Of course, you can choose the dimensions you desire. Here I went with an extension of 150 pixels around the who image. Click OK.

Since we plan to add some text to the frame, you may like the bottom part of your border to be a bit larger than the rest of the border. We can do this by going back to the canvas size menu again: Image > Canvas Size…

This time, keep the “Relative” checkbox clicked, and click on the center-top arrow to anchor your image, which will only extend the canvas along the bottom. Consequently, you’ll want to enter a pixel value in the “Height” field to indicate how large the canvas extension should be. Here I went with 100 more pixels.

Step 5: Fill that Frame!

You will have noticed that your frame has no particular color at this point. Now that the canvas size is set the way we like it, go to the menu: Edit > Fill… choose “White” as the fill color, and ensure that “Preserve Transparency” is NOT checked. Click OK!

Before we add the text, let’s finish the canvas by adding a small border around the edges also. As we did in step 3, go to the menu: Layer > Layer Style > Stroke… and add a black border, 3 pixels (or however thick you would like it), with the position set to “inside.”

Step 6: Add the Text

Using the Text Tool, click on your image in the bottom area of your frame (where you’d like the text to show), and type any information you would like to include. You can give your image a title if you like, but remember the goal of the watermark is to provide the viewer with some way of knowing who took this photo. It’s probably best to include either your full name or website in your text. Once you have typed your text, click on the little checkmark icon at the top of the screen to commit your text to the image.

With your text layer still active, hold down the shift key and click on the canvas layer (named Layer 1 if you did not rename it). This will select both layers in your layers palette. Go to the menu: Layer > Align > Horizontal Centers which will center your text horizontally with your large border.

Step 7: Resize Again (Optional)

Since adding the outer border by expanding the canvas dimensions, we’ve increased the overall dimensions of this image. If you would like to resize it back to 900 pixels maximum again, simply repeat Step 2 and constrain the image back to 900 pixels.

Step 8: Stop Recording!

Go back to your Actions palette, and click on the stop recording button at the bottom of the Actions palette. Your framing Action is now complete and ready to be used on any of your photos! To run this Action on any of your images, open a photo in Photoshop, open your Actions palette and choose this Poster Frame action, and click Play. Everything you just did in this tutorial will be repeated automatically!

Of course, with each different photo, you may wish to edit the text. Since the text is on its own layer, you can double click on it anytime with the text tool to make any changes you desire.

Have fun with this technique and feel free to adapt it or make any modifications you’d like. The possibilities are endless! In our next watermarking article, we’ll have a look at watermarking in Lightroom 3. Until then… Happy Photoshopping!

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Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at PhotographyBB
Dave Seeram is the Editor of PhotographyBB Magazine, photographer, Canucks fan, Lostie,  fanboy, Dad, blogger, entrepreneur, and part-time superhero. Dave is the owner of this blog, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the PhotographyBB Magazine and CLARITY: PHOTOGRAPHY BEYOND THE CAMERA
  1. Anh Vo Reply

    I am using this to frame my pics when posting on flickr. The action is very easy to adjust (both size and color). Thanks.

  2. Kirk Thompson Reply

    WOW!! This is AWESOME!! Frame looks great! I did it in less than 5 minutes! Thanks!!

  3. Vimal Suresh Reply

    Thanks a ton, mate! Just what I was looking for :)

  4. Shona Reply

    I know this post is really old and I love it! Is it possible to use your logo instead of text when making this action? I tried and it didn’t work. Thank you!

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