How To Create A Watermark

Our regular readers will be familiar with the constant advice we give regarding internet security; our basic warning being – if it is online it is public domain, so protect yourself! The internet is rife with those out to take every opportunity to do as little as possible for as much as possible, and stealing others work is one favoured way of doing this. Many writers, artists and photographers have suffered and will continue to suffer at the hands of online content theft, despite the flood of warnings both on and offline. It is so very important to take all and any precautions necessary to protect your work and all of your online content and this is where image editing programs such as GIMP come in so very handy! Never underestimate the power of a simply little copyright symbol embedded firmly in a watermark on all of your online images! It cannot be driven home enough just how important it is to copyright all written work and watermark all images online!

What Is GIMP?

GIMP is an image editing program which does everything Photoshop does. It is an open source program developed by those with a passion to provide public resources to those who cannot afford or do not wish to outlay unnecessary money on expensive programs offered by large corporations out to make as much money as they can in the shortest and most lucrative ways possible!

The latest edition of GIMP can be downloaded for free from

gimp screen

How To make A Watermark Using GIMP: A Quick Tutorial

Upon opening Gimp you will find a main work screen in the centre of your computer screen. To the left you have a Tool Box with Tool Option icons. Each icon performs a different function which is revealed as you hover over them. Double click these icons to use them. To your right you have your Layers Box where each layer of your created work appears. Each time you add something new to an image, such as text a new layer is created. These layer can be edited individually without the need to change any other aspect of your work. Once you are happy with you final image you can either ‘merge’ these layers or ‘flatten’ the image to a single image… but more about that later.


If you make a mistake or aren’t happy with any step you make whilst using GIMP, To undo your last step, press Ctrl Z . To redo pres Ctrl Y.


Creating A Watermark

Any kind of watermark can be created using GIMP; you can use text or an image or graphic or any combination of these things.

Create Your Blank Page First

To create a Watermark you first need to create a New File. Click File -> select New. Change the ‘Image Size’ dimensions to 600x600px. In the ‘Fill With’ section select ‘Transparency’.

Create A Circle

Select ‘Paint brush’ in the Tool Box at left. Select the biggest, hardest brush which is the big, black round spot. Increase ‘Size’ to around 500.

Below your various tools there is a small colour palette (two rectangles, one white, one black. The top (left) is foreground colour, the other is back ground colour. These can be changed by double clicking them, then selecting a colour. A nice neutral colour such as mid to dark grey is recommended for creating your Watermark circle.

Centre your circle on your transparent page and click; the big, grey spot will appear. In ‘Tools’ select eraser (the little red square). Decrease the Size of your brush slightly by about 50 or sixty, centre the eraser on the circle and click. You have now created the outer ring of your watermark.

Adding Text To Your Watermark

In Tools select the big A – which is your text tool. Select a Font type that is both bold and clear. (Such a Copper Std Heavy). Increase the Font Size to 70. Select ‘Justify’ – Centred. Draw a box with your cursor inside your circle and type the Copyright Symbol and your name (see our tutorial on How To Create A Copyright Symbol) (c.) YOUR NAME (or business name – you can simply type whatever you wish here.) The idea is to protect your work and show others that the work is copyrighted to its owner.

To change the size of your font highlight all text then use the up and down arrows in the Font Size box to adjust your Font Size. You can change the size of the box your text is in by using the outer arrows around the box on all side to pull it in and out until it is centred in your circle.

Merge Your Layers Into One Image

In the right hand ‘Layers box you will now see two layers. On is your background on which you created your circle, the other is a text layer. To complete your watermark image you need to combine these two layers in a process which is called Merging. Click on the top layer then select ‘Layer’ in the Menu bar across the top of your Gimp screen. Select ‘Merge Down’ from the list of options. You will see now that you have a single layer in the Layers section. This is your complete (as yet solid) watermark. We will change the opacity after it is applied to the image as follows.

Add A Dropshadow To Your Watermark

Adding a dropshadow to your watermark creates a good solid depth to the watermark, particularly after the opacity has been reduced. Click ‘Filters’ in the top menu bar, select ‘Light and Shadow’ then choose Dropshadow. A small options box will appear. If it does not appear, look for the flashing Gimp at the bottom of your screen – double-click it. Select colour, change to a darker grey than your watermark. Click okay. Repeat this step to create the dropshadow twice (it’s just more effective!) You will now need to ‘Merge Down you layers once more using the steps outlined above.

 Change Your Watermark Colour?

At this point you may decide you want your watermark to be a different colour. Neutral colours are always recommended, however you may like a particular colour effect. If so, simply click ‘Colours’ in the top menu, select ‘Colourize’. If you move the top bar left and right you will see your watermark changes colour. You can adjust the intensity of colour by adjusting the saturation and you can also adjust the lightness and darkness using this Colourize tool.


Having completed your watermark base image to your satisfaction you must now save it. (It is best to do this as you go along!)

You want to be able to continually re-use your watermark. To do this you will need to save it as a Gimp image. Select File in the upper menu, Save As. Do not change the file extension. This .xcf extension saves your file in its current form, with transparent background so you can re-use it again and again by opening it in Gimp at any time in the future.

Watermarking Your Image

To open the image you wish to watermark select File in the top menu bar and choose ‘Open’ from the menu. Find the file you wish to watermark and click okay. It will now open in Gimp as a separate image to your watermark.

Click on your watermark image. Double Click the layer in the Layer in the layer box, hold it and drop & drag it onto the image you are watermarking.

Adjust The Size of Your Watermark

Depending on the size of your image and how much of it you wish the watermark to cover, you will need to adjust the size of your watermark.

Click on the watermark layer in the ‘Layer’ section of the image you have just layered the watermark over. Select Resize in the left-hand Tools box (big box with a little box and white diagonal arrow). Click on your watermark. An options box will appear. Click on the little chain beside the Size options to make it solid. This locks your proportions so the image doesn’t ‘warp’ when rescaling its size. You can use the arrows beside the numbers to increase and decrease the size of your watermark image.

Changing The Opacity (Making Your Watermark See-through)

Click on the watermark layer in the Layer box of your watermarked image. At the top of the Layer box you will see a bar which is labeled ‘Opacity’ with little up and down arrows at its right. Use the down arrow to lower your opacity. Fiddle these arrows until the image reaches your preferred opacity. You want it dark enough to be visible, yet light enough not to distort your image. It is a fine balance!

Light Or Dark? – Inverting Your Watermark

Generally speaking a darker image looks more effective with a dark toned watermark and a lighter coloured image with a light toned watermark. To adjust this back and forth for different images use the Invert colour option. Select ‘Colour’ in the top menu, select ‘Invert’ and you will not the difference. Toggle this for each new image to find which works best on a particular image.

Saving (exporting) Your Watermarked Image

In gimp there are two types of saving of an image. Selecting Save or Save as in File will save the image as a re-workable, layered Gimp file with the Gimp file extension of .xcf as outlined earlier.

To save your watermarked image as a flattened, complete file you will need to export it. Click File in the top menu, click Export. Select your preferred file extension (or write it in after your file name as .jpeg etc.), click export again.

You now have a watermarked image and a ready-to-use watermark in your files.

NB: It is advisable when saving watermarked files to clearly label them as such. The easiest way to do this is simply put WM at the beginning of your picture file name. This way all watermarked images come up together and you will not accidentally upload an un-watermarked /un-copyrighted image into the public domain on the internet.

We hope this article has helped those of you out there who have ever suffered at the hands of online image theft and those of you who harbor the determination to never let such happen to you! Remember your work is your work! Keep it that way!

Gimp Tips To Safe Fuss!:

  • If your screen enlarges itself accidentally, simply double-click the top of your Gimp screen to reduce it back again.
  •  Don’t be afraid of making a muck of it – Ctrl Z to undo, Ctrl Y to redo!
  •  Save save, save! – as soon as you open a new file, label it, save it, even before you commence working on it, then every time you make a change, just hit Ctrl S.
  • The best way to learn a new program is to simply use it – if you can’t figure something out, Google How To – and your query – you will always find someone who has had the same query before you – and invariably – been given the answer!
  • Gimp tutorials – Gimp have tutorials and written guides on the own website, and if you haven’t the patience for that – youtube is an excellent resource, filled with people giving tutorials just like this one – only with visuals!

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