How to Add a Copyright Watermark to an Image in Photoshop

  • Thread starter KristinaW
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May 7, 2021
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I don’t know how I let this one get past me for so long. This topic is so popular that I’m almost ashamed of myself for missing it. Adding copyright watermarks to photographs is something virtually all photographers have to do, so I thought it’d be a good topic to cover here. Luckily, the process is painless, so this should take too long.

Before I go any further, I want you to know that there are multiple methods for applying copyrights to images. For the purposes of this post, I won’t be discussing Digimarc Watermark technology or how to apply copyright and owner information to the file’s meta information. What I will be discussing is the down and dirty process for adding a lightened or semi-transparent piece of text or symbol to a photo. The sky is the limit when it comes to what you can place on an image as well, so again, I’ll stick to text and perhaps a custom shape or something like that. I won’t be getting into how to make a logo and that sort of thing. I’ll save any logo discussion topics for later on and then I’ll just refer back to this post to show how that can be used as a watermark.

In today’s post, I’ll create a simple text watermark in Adobe Photoshop. I’ll enhance the text by applying a blend mode and some layer styles to it. I’ll then do the same thing, but to a symbol via the Custom Shape Tool. I’ll also show you a few different methods for creating the copyright symbol in Photoshop (©). When I’m finished, you should have the knowledge to easily watermark all your photos.

The Demo Photo​

I’ll be using a photo of a leaf that I just took a few minutes ago. I needed a decent picture for this post, so I ran outside and grabbed this one. With a little editing in Camera Raw, I’d say it looks pretty good!


The way I got such a shallow depth of field in this image was to screw one of those magnifying filters onto the end of my lens. I think it magnified the shot 4x, so the depth of field was probably less than an inch overall.

Text Watermark​

This one is easy. I’m going to simply write out some text and then make that text look like it’s not so out of place. To get going, I’ll head over to the Horizontal Type Tool and click. Then, I’ll type out the word “COPYRIGHT.” If you’re following along, you would want to type out your name or your business name. The word “copyright” is just some random word I came up with.


Next, I’ll adjust the size and font of the word and position it where I’d like to see it. In the next screenshot, I placed this word in two typical locations. The center is always good if you really don’t want anyone stealing your photos and the lower right is generally accepted if you just want to tell people who took the photo. Choose one, depending on your needs.


Next, I’ll give you some options for blending these words into the image, so they aren’t so obtrusive. For the center word, I’ll change the blend mode of the text layer to Soft Light. For the one in the lower right, I’ll simply reduce the opacity to 30%. Both the blend mode drop-down and Opacity slider can be found at the top of the Layers panel.


To jazz things up a bit for the larger text, I’ll add a layer style. I’ll double-click in an empty part of the layer in the Layers panel and then, when the Layer Style dialog box appears, I’ll enter the Drop Shadow section from the left column. Once there, I’ll change the blend mode to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 50%. I’ll also change a few other things (Distance, Spread, Size), as you can see in the screenshot below.


You probably don’t want to do this for smaller text because things can get muddy, but for the larger stuff, it works well. Let’s take an up close look at what I just did.


That’s good enough for me. It blends into the image and no one is going to get away with stealing this thing. For the smaller text down in the corner, I can keep that as is. Just with a reduced opacity.

Symbol Watermark​

What I did above is all fine and dandy, but who just writes text as a copyright on their photography? What photographers want is the copyright symbol. That cool looking “C” in the circle. The question is, how do we get that? Where is it? How can we type it out? I’ll answer all that below.

Okay, there are a few different methods for applying the copyright symbol to a photo in Adobe Photoshop. First, you can simply search “copyright symbol” in Google and you’ll see it in the results.


To add the symbol to your image in Photoshop, you can highlight it from the Google Search results with your mouse and copy it (Ctrl+C). Then, use the Horizontal Type Tool again to paste it right in to your project as if you were pasting in any regular text. It’s that easy.

If you’d prefer to type it out yourself and you’re working on a Windows computer, you can press and hold down the Alt key on your keyboard and then type “0169.” This is the method for typing our special characters in Windows. To see more characters, on Windows 10, type in Character Map in the lower Cortana search box in the task bar and select that result. A small window will appear with all the special characters in it. Click on a symbol and the code for that symbol will show up in the lower right area of the window.

I don’t work on a Mac, but these are the instructions I found for adding a copyright symbol using that brand of computer. You can access Mac’s Character Palette by visiting Edit > Special Characters or you can use the keyboard shortcut of Option+G. Give that a try.

Finally, you can just use the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop to insert the shape. All three of these methods will do almost the same thing. I’ll give you instructions for the shape tool below.

I’ll head over to the Custom Shape Tool in the left toolbar and click.


Then, in the options bar up top, I can find and select the copyright shape in the Shape drop-down.


From there, I can draw out the shape as if I was working with any other shape. And if I apply the same blending mode and layer style, I’ll get something that looks like this.


HINT: Hold down the Shift key while drawing the shape to keep it a true circle and not all distorted.

And obviously, you can add this copyright symbol in front of any text you’d like to add it to. Also, you can size it any way you wish as well.


Creating an Action​

If you’re a prolific photographer, you probably don’t want to go through all the steps I just wrote about each and every time you want to create a copyright watermark on an image. I can imagine photographers taking tons and tons of pictures and this type of chore isn’t all that interesting. The good thing about Photoshop is that it’s capable of automating the process for you with what’s called an Action. Actions are like a tape recorder. You hit Record and then talk into it. When you’re finished talking, you press Stop. Any time you want to hear your voice again, you just hit Play. You can listen to your recorded voice over and over again as many times as you want.

With Actions though, you’re not recording your voice. You’re recording the steps taken to complete a task in Photoshop. In this case, we want to create a copyright symbol and some text behind it in the center of the photo with a blend mode applied to it as well as a drop shadow. Actions can record all of these steps and with the click on a mouse, you can perform these steps as many times as you want, automatically. It’s so cool. I’ll show you how to do it below.

To create a new Action, I’ll start off by visiting and clicking on the Window > Actions menu item.


When the Actions panel pops oven, I’ll click the New Action button at its bottom. This will make the New Action dialog appear, where I’ll name the action and then click the Record button.


From this point, Photoshop is recording anything I do. So basically, I’ll just go through the steps of what it would take to create the copyright text, from start to finish.

I’ll first use the Horizontal Type Tool to type out the copyright symbol and the word COPYRIGHT. Then, I’ll use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the entire image (making sure the text layer is active in the Layers panel) by using the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+A. After that, I’ll switch to the Move Tool and go up to the options bar and align the text by horizontal centers and vertical centers. This step is just to make sure the text is in the center of the image. After that, I’ll deselect the image by visiting the Select > Deselect menu item and clicking and finally, I’ll head over to the Layers panel, where I’ll apply the Soft Light blend mode and the Drop Shadow layer style I wrote about earlier. When I’m finished, I’ll click on the Stop button in the Actions panel to stop the recording. At this point, the copyright text should be created and the action should be too. Any time I open a new photo in Photoshop, I can create the same copyright text as I just did by visiting the Actions palette, finding that action and clicking the Play button down at the bottom of the panel. It’s that easy and it’s almost like magic. I’ll write a more thorough post on actions at a later date. I know this one was kind of fast.


I hope I clearly explained how to create copyright watermarks for your photographs in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section down below. Thanks for reading!