Theft of their art online is indeed artist’s greatest fear. The mere thought of finding someone’s paws all over your precious picture, the idea you painstakingly thought of, perfected, executed and uploaed in order to share in an art communnity, the thought of it being stolen for profit is horrible. Indeed, there have been many internet sites that stole works of artists on dA and sold them as wallpapers, mobile phone screens and even prints. There have been a few big legal affairs with major corporations stealing artwork at very small resolution (800 px) and then, using their superior equipment, managing to employ it in all their advertising, and that’s just mentioning a few such situations.
Clearly, the need for protecting yor work exists, and no, most of us don’t think that “it would be our honour to be ripped off, it means we are good”. We know we are good, and we accept appreciation in a form of faves, comments and print requests.
So, how do we protect our work on line?
No system is perfect, and different artists opt for different strategies, or combination of different strategies.
First is to upload your work at low resolution, like 600 px. Obviously, some artists won’t be happy with this, because it won’t do their pictures justice.
The next step is – the dreaded watermark.
DeviantArt has it’s own, and boy, is it ugly and obtrusive! On one hand, it does the job perfectly, there is no way anyone can successfully get rid of it in Photoshop. But it ruins the look of the picture and it is unforunatelly placed in the centre so often it obscures the subject completely.
In macro, it is really important that we see the subject, otherwise, there is no point in submitting the work in the first place. If your pic is a super-close look at the bug, or a refraction in the drop, and that is completely obscured, forget about it, nobody will be able to enjoy that.
It is also important to mention that when you are submitting the print, you can upload a different source file there, so you can have your deviation show with embedded watermark, and your print will be clean because you will use the file without the watermark for that. This will achieve the same as dA watermark, which shows on display, but not on the final print.
Actually making your own watermark is really easy.
Open photoshop and click on File – New Layer. Make it 1900 px wide, 1382 px high, with “transparent” background (I have really large files, 12 mpx camera, so my watermark is big, but you can always reduce it later, depending on how big your jpeg is).
When you have a transparent layer opened, select black for a foreground colour, click on a little bucket-tool and click over the transparent layer, this will paint it black so that you can more easily see your watermark at this stage.
First, select the button that says T – that’s your text layer. Holding down Fn and Alt keys, using a numberpad on the right hand side of your keyboard, type 0169. As soon as you release the Fn and Alt keys, you will get a copyright symbol.
To write out your name, or anything you want, choose the font you like, and design your watermark. For the watermark as big as this one, your font size should be around 130 pt, but obviously, that depends on the font you are using. Also, you can use a symbol you created to make a watermark, in our examples below you will see how well that can work too.
Keep the opacity of your text layer at 100%.
When you are happy, do not merge layers, rather, save the watermark document in separate layers as a PSD document, so that you can easily use it and change the size of the text later. Save it somewhere you will later easily find it and name it “watermark”.
Now open one of your favourite jpegs you were going to upload to dA (or elsewhere). Open your Watermark file on a separate layer. Make sure you highlight in blue T (text) layer. Using a little arrow for moving things around (usually the top button on the lefthand side), move the watermark text from watermark window to your jpeg window. Release left click and the watermark layer should be copied and visible on top of your jpeg. Now adjust the opacity of your watermark. Depending on the colours of your jpeg, and where you want to put the watermark, you’ll need different opacities, but I usually use between 20 and 30%.
If you need to rotate your watermark, having the T layer highlighted, click Edit – Transform – Rotate and change the orientation any way you like. You can also warp it and do all sorts of fun things with it. Also, you can easily move it around the picture and position it anywhere you want.
Once you are happy, click Layer – Merge layers whick will embed the watermark in your jpeg. You might want to now click on File – File Information. On the left hand side you have a meny, browse through it, but you might want to go to IPTC Status and enter your information, copyright and usage terms. When you are done, save it as (name of jpeg) coyrighted.
Now you are ready to upload your jpeg to dA knowing that most likely, nobody will bother to try to rip it off, while at the same time you had the full control of exactly the type of watermark you’ll have, and where on your picture you will place it.