I am a bad blog reader in that I don’t comment on nearly as many blogs as I view every day. There honestly just isn’t enough time for me to do that. If something really wow’s me though, you can bet you will hear from me. What has always amazed me though, is the amount of bloggers who make no attempt to watermark their images, or the amount of bloggers who don’t correctly watermark their images. For many I think it’s two things really: 1. They are simply unaware of why it’s so important and 2. They lack the appropriate software to create and use a watermark in the first place.
I hope by the end of this post I can clear up both issues. First, let’s talk about software…it’s the easier of the two. You don’t need Photoshop or Elements or anything expensive in order to properly watermark your photos. There’s a nifty little program out there called Gimp that works with a Mac or a PC and it’s been developed as open-source. This means it is FREE! I’ve had the opportunity to take Gimp for a ride around the block a few times and it’s very impressive. In fact, in my digital design degree program, professors have recommended this program as an alternative to the Adobe Suite a few times and encouraged us to use this program until our software came. You can get Gimp for PC here and for the Mac here. Corel has a great program called Paint Shop Pro that will give you a lot more options than Gimp and it’s available for $25 right now at this site. There are lots of other options for inexpensive software…my personal recommendation though would be that it supports a PNG file format and offers the option to use layers.
When you purchase a watermark designed by me you receive FREE tech support for Gimp too! Now…let’s talk about WHY and HOW to appropriately use a watermark shall we?
Check out this amazing card by my Getting Cricky Design Team Sister Deborah Foti:
Do you see her attempt at watermarking her photo in the top left corner? It’s done wrong for a few reasons. I’ve already shown them to her and it is with her permission that I use them on this post. I’m going to show you why where you put your watermark is as important as why to watermark your image in the first place.
The why is simple…without watermarking your photo, someone can take your image and submit it as their own work wherever they want. Do you remember the Craft it Forward event by Scrapbooks Etc. I participated in? Without a proper watermark I could take someone’s photo, submit it to the contest, and maybe even win…robbing YOU of your $500. That would really suck wouldn’t it? I’m sure you’ve all voted for scrappy friends’ projects on Facebook too right…same thing can be done there. Someone takes YOUR photo and submits it with THEIR watermark (or not sometimes) and wins the prize. It’s not right, it’s not fair, and it’s not legal, but trust me when I tell you that people do this type of thing all the time. I’ve had my digital designs stolen from me more than once when I used to do web design for a Direct Sales Cosmetic Company. It would aggravate me to no end and I finally researched code that I could put on a website that would disable the copy options…EXCEPT for dragging and dropping an image from the website to my desktop. My point is…if someone REALLY wants your work they are going to find a way to take it. The best and easiest way to protect yourself is to use a watermark.
A “true” watermark is more than just your name and blog address typed all cute on your photo. It should be transparent so that the image itself is still visible behind it, and it should be placed somewhere it can’t be removed without destroying the photo itself. Look what I was able to do to Deborah’s photo in about a minute:
Using the clone stamp tool (a tool available in Gimp) in Photoshop, I was able to clone the background right over her “watermark” in the photo. I didn’t even do a perfect job of it either. Now…all I have to do to pass this project off on my own, is to add my own watermark. I use Photoshop to add watermarks to my images. There are countless ways you can do it, maybe I’ll be back with some of those details later on. Right now, my preferred way to do it is to create a brush, that way I can “stamp” my watermark wherever I want it. Can you find it in the image below?
With the above photo, the watermark is “stamped” with black as the foreground color. Here it is below, with white as the foreground color.
It really is that easy to steal someone’s image….it has taken me 5 times as long to write this blog post than it did to clone over Deborah’s watermark and add my own. Positioning is very important. Where Deborah put her “watermark” it was super easy to clone out. I could have cropped the photo to remove it as well. Mine is transparent so the card is still visible through the watermark, and also placed in such a way where it will not be easy to clone over it or remove it from the photo without destroying the photo. A forgery expert, or someone with a lot of patience and time could still clone even my watermark out of this photo BUT my watermark format and placement certainly makes it more difficult to do so.
Additionally, there are many companies/applications that allow you to use an invisible watermark and who will monitor the internet for improper use of your images. These range in price from 30 dollars annually to several hundred. For purposes of blogging, I don’t think that is necessary. You can use this same technique I’ve explained, to watermark all your photos. I’ve done that here in this post if you wanna see how that looks.
After I explained all of this to Deborah, she immediately asked if I could make her a watermark. The answer is YES, I can do that. I will do it for her at no charge since she was kind enough to let me share her photo for this post. If you would like a custom watermark of your own, they are $5 a piece and can be paid for via PayPal. Please leave a comment here or on my fan page at Facebook letting me know what you’d like. They can be horizontal, round, or even odd-shaped. They can be your name or your name and blog or just your blog…pretty much anything you like really. If you have a specific font or image you’d like incorporated in your watermark, be sure to let me know that as well.