This blog post will provide you with an easy method of creating and applying simple copyright marks to your images.
Before beginning, there is one fact that every photographer must face. If you place an image on the Internet and someone wants to steal the picture, it WILL be stolen -- no matter what copyright precautions have been taken. The only guaranteed way of protecting your images from Internet theft is to NOT place them on the Internet.
The first step in producing a copyright mark is to create a blank image in your digital imaging software program. (For this exercise, Photoshop will be used. Other imaging programs will work in a similar fashion.) We are making a master copyright image that will be used every time a copyright mark is applied to a new photograph. This document is being created with a BLACK background at 600 ppi by 800 ppi at a resolution of 72 ppi for display on the Internet.
On this blank image, the TEXT tool will be used to create a new layer that contains the content of our copyright.
In Figure 1, WHITE text for the copyright has been added to a new layer above the black background. The placement and exact size of the text is not important at this time. Pick a text size that you can easily see and edit. Final sizing and positioning will be determined when the copyright is applied to the final image. Save this file with a unique name and in a permanent safe location. Make certain you save this file with the layers intact. In Photoshop jargon, this means don't flatten the image, and save it as a TIFF or PSD file. You will use this copyright master file frequently.
While we're at it, let's produce another master file using black text on a white background. This will give us two color options for our copyright mark -- white text to be used on dark backgrounds and black text for light picture backgrounds.
Follow the same steps shown above, but this time make the background white and the text color black. The finished digital image is seen in Figure 2. Save this file with a descriptive title.
It's time to add this copyright to a priceless Hub original.
Figure 3 shows the Photoshop workspace with the image requiring the copyright mark on the left and our prepared copyright text image on the right. On the far right is the "layers" window. Begin by clicking on the copyright image to make it the active window (outline in yellow above). Notice the "layers" window indicates two layers -- background layer and the text layer outlined in red.
Now for the fun part. Click and hold on the layer containing the copyright TEXT. While holding the mouse button down, drag the text layer to the picture on the left in Figure 4.
The original photograph will now look like Figure 5 with the copyright text now applied as a new layer above the image. It worked. But it's not in a very aesthetic position on the picture.
Using the "move" tool (shown in the red circle in Figure 6) and the text layer selected, the copyright can be moved (dragged) to its final location on the picture. The white text copyright mark was selected for this picture to stand out against the gray background.
Using the "Scale image" function in Photoshop and the text layer selected, the text size can be altered to suit the photographer's taste. (see Figure 7) This copyright will suffice, but I find it visually distracting. I prefer a semi-transparent watermark to allow the background image to be seen.
In Figure 8, the copyright text layer has been selected. The "opacity" control above the text layer has been changed to 50% to allow the background image to be seen through the white text.
Figure 9 shows the final Internet-ready image. Figure 10 (below) used the same procedure to apply the black copyright text to a light background image. Notice that a 50% transparency has also been applied to this text.
Both of these images required "flattening" of the layers and saving as JPEG files for Internet use.
Some final notes:
- Be careful not to overwrite your original image file. Save this file under a new name.
- Once the master copyright files have been created and saved, applying the notice to your images in the future will require only a few seconds of your time.
- When sizing your copyright text on the final picture, keep it unobtrusive.
- The metadata that's attached to your original file will provide additional proof of your ownership.
- This example is intended specifically for 72 ppi images used on the Internet. I also add a copyright mark to images I print. Since I normally print at 240 ppi, I have created a white and a black text master copyright file for this ppi. I then apply my copyright notice to these print images using the same steps as above.