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Create an invisible watermark in Photoshop

Create an invisible watermark in Photoshop

Protecting your images is very important and one of the easiest ways of doing that but sometimes a watermark can be disturbing and it can affect the aspect of an image negatively. In this tutorial I will show you how to create a watermark that will only be visible on the blue channel of the image but not on the image itself so the viewers will not be bothered by it.

Preview of the result

Hover the mouse over the image (wait until it loads)

About the invisible watermark

This watermarking technique is not 100% invisible but its visibility is very reduced, almost invisible. The visibility of the watermark will be determined primarily by the layer style itself and by the background you place it over. So yes, there are some limitations which I will discuss later on this article but I will give you some tips and recommendations.

Creating the watermark

The best thing about the technique I will show you next is that you can actually save the configuration as a style and save a lot of time the next time you want an invisible watermark on your images. So, we are essentially creating a layer style. At the end of the article you will find a download link to download several watermark styles but keep reading to learn why there are multiple styles and not just one.

For this tutorial, I used this image -> http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1348466

Open the image in Photoshop and type some text as shown in the image below, the color doesn’t matter. The size of your text must not be very small nor condensed because the watermark may not be very visible after you save the image (read limitations below).

Now let’s start creating the style that will make this text visible only on the blue channel. Through trial and error I found out that the Blue Channel is the best one but after you learn the technique you can experiment and maybe get better results using the Green or Red channels.

Next, open the styles for the text layer you just created. Notice that I reduced the Fill Opacity to 0 and I deactivated the R and G channels. At this time, your text disappeared from the screen. Don’t worry.

Because we deactivated the Red and Green channels blending, the effects we will apply next will only affect the blue channel. They will still be visible on the composite image but only on the blues. If you don’t understand it, don’t worry, keep reading.

The only styles that I will apply to this text are Inner Shadow and Outer Glow. I want to point out that this is my personal made style so you’re free to try out other configurations. In fact I encourage you to do so and if you come up with an even better result post a comment and we’ll show it to the world hehe.

Now, apply an outer glow with the settings shown on the screenshot below.

In many cases, the color of the glow will not have a big impact but feel free to try different colors. What’s really important is how dark or how bright the color is (luminosity) and what Blend Mode you’re using. The more you know about how blend modes work, the better you will do at this step. You can always go trial and error. The objective is to use a blend mode and a color that are almost invisible on the composite image but very visible on the blue channels.

After applying the outer glow, go to channels and take a look at the blue channel. You should see something like in the image below. You should also notice that the text is not visible on the other channels. Try to move the text around and you will see that the result will change.

As you can see, on the composite channel, the text is practically invisible but on the blue channels is quite visible.

At this point it looks quite good but you can make it look even better if you can make the actual text brighter. If you let it as it is, when you save the image it will loose quality and the watermark becomes very hard to read.

In order to achieve a better result I used the inner shadow style. See image below.

And here is the result. The result is a lot better after adding the inner shadow. The more visible is on the blue channel, the better your wattermark will be preserved over time.

By adding the inner shadow to make the text more visible on the blue channel I sacrificed the visibility on the composite too. You can see a few blue lines if you watch carefully. So as you can see it’s all about balance, the watermark must be visible on the blue channel and almost invisible on the composite channel.

That’s all it is to it. The invisible watermark is done. If you want to test this, save your image, open it again and go to the blue channel. You will see how the watermark lost quality but it should be readable.

Limitations

As with everything in this life, this technique also has it’s limitations. Here are some of them

1 – It’s not 100% invisible

As I said, it’s almost invisible but not 100%. The actual visibility depends on the color of you background and the settings on the layer style. On some images it’s easier and on some images is not that easy. Trial and error, never fails. Every time you tweak the settings and get a good result save the settings as a new layer style, those setting will work on other images and you will save time.

2- Cannot be applied on pure white/ black backgrounds

I tried to add this style on black and white backgrounds and it just didn’t work.

3 – Does not work the same on all images

The settings shown on this article do not work the same on all images. You will have to make adjustments to the color illumination and blend modes depending on your image. Make the adjustments by eye and preview the result on the blue channel. If you’re happy with the result, save the settings as a new style, it might come handy on other images. That’s why you will find multiple styles on the download file, because each one has it’s own settings which work differently depending on the image. So, I give you a few ones to choose from.

Recommendations

1) Always add this watermark styles to the final version of your image. If you scale the image after you applied the style you might loose quality.

2) Use a medium size text because after you save the image, the blue channel looses quality and if the text is too small it becomes very hard to read and identify.

3) Move the watermark around on different places of the image after you apply the style until you find an area where the visibility of it is the lowest on the composite channel but visible on the blue channel.

Download the watermark styles

[download id="23" format="1"]

About Andrei Oprinca

  • Alt

    Does anyone know how to do this or if its possible with Photoshop Elements 11? I’m unable to find any styles pane so I’m stuck at the beginning.

    Any help would be appreciated!

  • Michele

    I need to make a watermark for a png logo. Need it to only show if printed (copyright). Can you please help me with this? I will be emailing this to a client so if I save it as png what program do they open it with so they can resize the logo when necessary? Thanks

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  • http://alejandroluisi.blogspot.com alejandro

    Fantastic! Thanx

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  • jaina

    tried it – liked it
    and found a way to use this on a black background:

    blending options: opacity 100%
    channel: blue

    inner shadow: blend mode = soft light;
    color = f9a539
    angle = -88
    outer glow: blend mode = screen
    color = ef9016
    opacity = 75%

    • http://alejandroluisi.blogspot.com alejandro

      we need blend mode in first step!

  • http://efekphotoshop.com efekphotoshop.com

    This is a new inspiration for the lovers of photoshop. It was incredible. thanks for sharing. do not forget your visit to my blog to give me a critique and commentary. I am happy to exchange information and knowledge with you. success for you. by: renra cikatos

  • http://hangaroundtheweb.com rajasegar

    Great tutorial and techniques well explained.
    Thanks for sharing…
    Bookmarked!!