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Friday, March 30, 2012

It's Your Work : Create a Simple Watermark for Those Beautiful Images!

With so many ways to market your work online these days, it's important to retain ownership of your images.  Some websites have built-in tools that will not let your image be downloaded or shared to social media sites such as Pinterest. (See my blog posting about Pinterest here.)  There is also a way to block people from "pinning" from your site by embedding a special code in your html or css.  But why not take full advantage of these social media platforms as free marketing??  Sure there certain regulations about self-promotion with many of them, but getting friends to share your images with their friends, etc, etc is a great way to get your work out there.

But then you start to think, "What if my work is out there but is no longer attached to my name?  Is it then a free-for-all to copy it or claim ownership?"  Well, I think one good solution to this little connundrum is just to watermark your images.  I'm not saying you have to have a giant black "COPYRIGHT" across the middle of your photo.  That would probably do the trick, but I know I would like something a little more subtle.  You know, a little more emphasis placed on my work rather than the fact that I'm a paranoid crazy person.  I think people would be a little more likely to share something that still looks nice while giving proper credit to the artist.

So here's a little tutorial about making a classy-looking, not-too-in-your-face watermark for your images in Photoshop.

1. Open a new document in Photoshop, at least 2000 ppi, at 300 resolution.

2. Use whatever tool you like to create your watermark image.  I just use the type tool.

3. After typing your watermark in black or converting your logo to all black, Go to Select / Color Range, and select all that is black.

4. Add a new layer in the layer pallette.  Then use the "paint bucket" tool to fill in all the selected areas with black on the new layer, right on top of the old layer.  You must fill in each letter or each separate piece of the logo.
Now you have two layers, one with your font or logo and one with a selection of your font or logo. 

5. Make sure the new layer with the selection is highlighted and at the top of the list in your layer pallette.  Then go to Layer / Layer Style / Bevel and Emboss...  Make any adjustments you want here.

I use:
Style: Inner Bevel
Technique : Smooth
Depth : 100%
Direction : Up
Size : 20 px
Angle : 120
Altitude : 30
Highlight : Screen
Opacity : 75%
Shadow Mode : Multiply
Opacity : 75%

I also added an Inner Shadow:
Blend Mode: Multiply
Opacity :75%
Angle : 120
Distance : 5 px
Choke : 0 px
Size : 5 px

6. Once you have all that figured out and all set like you want it, click the "Blending Options" settings on the upper left hand above the Style list.
Under "Advanced Blending," drop the "Fill Opacity" slider to 0, so that you only see the Bevel and Emboss, getting rid of the color and background.  Click OK to close the dialog box.

7. Delete the background layer and the background text layer (not the layer you just styled.)  Save as a .psd file to make editing easier later and to retain your transparent backround, and save a copy as a .jpg file.

And there you go, a lovely beveled and embossed watermark on a transparent background that you can drag and drop onto any photo you want to post online so that even if the title and file information disappear, your watermark will always be on your image.

Unless some A-hole crops it out.  But that's a different story all together.  Cheers!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Well, I have found a new way to waste some hours - Pinterest! 

I shouldn't say waste... it's not all a waste of time... but it sure can get addictive easily.

Pinterest is a relatively new social media site based on visual communication and sharing photos.  I first heard of it when my sister showed me the "pinboard" she was making with all sorts of ideas for her wedding.  Man, I wish Pinterest had existed when I was planing my wedding - what a neat way to gather ideas in one place and share them easily with your mom, sister, etc.  Ok, so that example is particularly girly, but it's not just for the ladies.  It's wide open.

Pretty much any photo you find online (that's not copy protected) can be "pinned" to this site and shared with anyone who cares to look, who can, in turn, "repin" the photo to their board, and on and on.  Pinned photos are organized into categories called boards, and you can have as many boards as you please.  People can also "like" and comment on your pins as well as their own.  It's also cleverly hooked in with facebook so that you can find your friends and "follow" their pins, so that every time you sign on, all your friends' pins pop up on your home page, kind of like the home page feed on facebook - but less talk, more pretty pictures! 

Sounds pretty interesting, right?  Something you might check out just for fun if you have some free time one afternoon.  That's what I thought, and that's how I got hooked.  I had about an hour to kill one afternoon waiting for Mark to get home so we could leave on a trip.  I pulled it up.... and ended up creating like twelve boards.  I'm a fan of organizing with lists, you see, and when I can put ideas and pretty pictures into fun lists all in one place... well, I get a little carried away. 

Here are a few of my boards: (I warn you, these links may not work unless you are logged in to Pinterest, so I'll leave that up to you...)
Artistic Inspiration
Art & Design
Art Jewelry

So there's already some art up there.  And I started thinking that Pinterest could be a pretty good marketing tool.  But then there's the copyright issue. 

Now if you start looking, you can find article after article both praising and condemning sharing your work on Pinterest.  I follow Art Biz Blog, and they have posted several articles on this very problem.  I'm not going to go into both sides of the argument here, but suffice it to say, I was a little concerned about putting my own work up to be shared.  So I polled my facebook friends to see what their takes on it were.  Here are a few of their responses:

E.B. (photographer) : I say do it. You run the risk but you always run the risk, and I think it's probably a solid marketing tool.

J.C. (metalsmith) : do it. everyone copies everyone and if you limit how many people can see it you limit your customer base.

N.W. (painter) : Is it any different from putting your stuff out on Etsy or anywhere else really?

A.K. (metalsmith) : Recent article in ny times about several instances of litigation against those posting. Pinterest only protects themselves not their users. I decided not to go there...

All of this got me thinking of everywhere I post my work online.  My website, hosted through Other People's Pixels, does now allow photos to be downloaded.  But I have work posted on my personal facebook page, my facebook fan page, my Etsy page, as well as my blog.  And to be honest, none of these images are safe. 

So what to do?  I agree with most of my friends in that Pinterest could be a pretty solid marketing tool.  However, I believe that any art posted on Pinterest, or anywhere else for that matter, needs be properly cited with credit given to the maker.  That said, if you're pinning someone else's art, make sure it links back to the original source, ideally the artist's website.  And I always make sure that if the artist's name doesn't appear in the label, I trace it back, find the artist, and include their name in my label.  If I can't find the artist, I don't post it. 

My solution for my own work: adding a watermark right in the image.  So even if the pinner doesn't credit me, my image does. 

Subtle, so as not to detract, but there should there ever be any question.  Now, just to add this to all the images I have online.  Fun.  But necessary.

I will be posting a tutorial on how to quickly make a watermark using Photoshop later on.

So how do you feel about Pinterest?  What are your thoughts on the copyright issue?  Please leave comments and suggestions for others as well!  And please follow me on Pinterest, too!  It's pretty fun... and addictive...