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GIMP - Watermark : How to create a customized watermark to copyright protect your photos

Updated on September 9, 2014

When you need to watermark images you can make the watermark yourself with GIMP

This is another episode of GypsyOwl's GIMP Tutorials! If you have ever wanted to post an image online, perhaps your photos or artwork, but you thought it wouldn't be safe from being used without your permission, then you might have considered a watermark. This tutorial will show you how to create a watermark for your images that you can add time and time again.

Create this once and then overlay it on as many images as you want.

GIMP is a free image program (software). You can download and use it free. GypsyOwl has created several tutorials about using GIMP for you to learn how to use specific features. This page will focus on creating a watermark.

Photo Copyright (c) 2011 GypsyOwl Graphic Design Gallery Thank you to each reader who has let me know about their experience using this GIMP tutorial. I appreciate your feedback and am so delighted it is helpful.

What you will learn in this tutorial

This tutorial page is going to help you download the GIMP program (it is free from

  • Download and Install the GIMP for MAC OS X or Windows PC.
  • Create your watermark
  • Apply your watermark transparency (png) image as a layer to your photos.

Gimp Photo Editor for Windows - Similar to Photoshop
Gimp Photo Editor for Windows - Similar to Photoshop

If you would like to skip the process of downloading this software free, and like the convenience of having a disk of the software handy, then this is a great option. Check for the most recent release so you are sure to have the best features.


Step One

Begin template


Click on "file"

On the top left of the GIMP dashboard you will see the word "file"

Click on that word.

A drop down menu appears.

Scroll to "new"

Click on new...

Step Two

Select size of your canvas

Now, a new screen will pop up and you will see an image size option.

Select the width

Select the height

Select the type of measurement

Click OK

If you do not know the size you need for the watermark, start out with a 3500 x 3500 Pixel canvas (that is the average size of the largest photo you would need for online use -- for designing a tee shirt for example it is approximately equal to 10 x 10 inches).

Other examples:

The average sidebar is between 200 and 300 pixels wide.

The average image for a blog post (the span of the content area) will be approx 500 pixels wide.

If you are unsure than create the largest example.

This is always a good rule when creating images. The larger original will resize down a lot easier and look best. When ever you try to resize larger there can be problems with pixelation (which means the dots will spread out and create holes in the image. It will look as if the ink was running out when you printed it).

Step Three

Select the letter "A" on the GIMP dashboard

DOUBLEClick on the letter "A" to open the text tool and the tool options screen.

A new popup will appear.

Select the font. Select the size of the font.

(see next section for the color selection screenshot)

Step Four

Change Color: Use the change color foreground tool to change your font color.

Click on the color section (a new pop up screen with all the colors will appear). Slide the x around until you see the color you want in the "current" color display (this is referring to the current color you have under the selector). Notice in the example the selector is way up in the left hand top corner (which is almost black) and the "current" color is that almost black color.

Click on the arrow, and then select the color you would like the font to be (be sure to click on "OK" in the change color popup before you continue).

Step Five

Enter the text for the watermark.

When you click on the canvas yet another screen will appear where you will type in your watermark words.

Type one line of your watermark text.

The example (to the right) says "GypsyOwl Graphic Design Gallery"

Decide what you would like your watermark to say... type that.

Step Six - Would you like the text to be at a 45 degree angle?

Rotate the text 45%

From the GIMP dashboard, Click on the "rotate" button (you will see it highlighted in the graphic to the right).

Click on the image (the canvas) and the rotate tool options will pop up. type in "45" into the "Angle" section.

Next, click on the "rotate" button.

The text will rotate.

Do You Know "Copyright" Law? - Anytime we discuss images and content I want to give people resources to help them stay out of trouble...

The follow books and DVD are helpful to different levels of students. Read my description by each of them to determine which one will be best for you. I highly recommend at least one. If you are a serious student I have suggested you buy the Paralegal text and the Vasst Training DVD.

Note: they are each from different authors so there may be some differences in the interpretation. Unfortunately that is the real confusion about law. And why we need court systems to interpret it all for us. But learning as much as you can will give you a distinct advantage if you are ever on one side or the other of an issue.

Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks For Dummies
Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks For Dummies

This is a great book for beginners in the field of study. This will break down the meaning and application of copyright law. To be on the safe side, use only original work and if you use another's images or content get their permission in writing along with the terms of use (such as attribution examples how you will credit their work... they have the right to express how you will credit them).

To be safe, if you are new to the topic of copyright and intellectual property think of it like this... if someone else thought of it they own it. If you thought of it first, can you prove it?


Step Seven

Saving your watermark...

Now you will want to adjust the alignment, make copies of the text layer (see layers dialog below), move each new layer until you have a few lines and make sure most of the canvas area is covered.

You are going to next open the "layers" dialog box.

From the GIMP dashboard , Click on "dialog" (see example highlighted in the image to the right)

A drop down menu appears. Scroll to and select "Layers" This will open the Layers Dialog (a popup with each of the layers on your canvas showing).

At this point you have two types of layers.

The background and the watermark text layers.

You are going to click the "eye icon" next to the background layer. This will make the background layer invisible.


From the CANVAS ... look at the top left corner of the canvas and find "FILE"

Click on "FILE"

The Drop Down menu appears.

Scroll to and select "SAVE AS"

A new screen opens which will allow you to select a name for your file and where you will save it to.

I suggest you save it to your desktop to start.

Enter this into the file name area "WATERMARK_TRANSPARENCY.PNG"


Click the enter button... go to step eight.

Step Eight

PNG Settings: Selecting your default settings

This could be a long tutorial section but why not keep it really simple?

Look at the image to the right...

Set your PNG settings to match that image.

Click Save.

Congratulations You Have a Watermark

Now you can use it over and over again...

Now you have a watermark you have created with your GIMP program. Save it in a place you can find it often. Every time you need to use it you will refer to the next section "Apply My Watermark"

Start Apply My Watermark

This section begins the process of applying your watermark to your photos or other digital images. You will repeat this step for each image.

Open Your Image

Edit your image with GIMP


On the GIMP dashboard...Click on the "FILE" tab and select "OPEN" from the drop down menu

Find and select your image (the image you want to apply the watermark to).

On the image canvas... Click on the "FILE" tab and select "OPEN AS LAYERS" from the drop down menu

Find and select your watermark PNG file

Now you should see your watermark overlay on the image. Notice it is perhaps too dark? We will adjust it for each image because the colors and transparency can be adjusted to best suit the image colors and hue saturation.

In other words... we are going to make the watermark lighter and perhaps adjust the color if needed.

To make the watermark lighter...

Open the Layers Dialog (you did this in step seven above)

Click on the watermark layer.

Look above the layer list and find the slider... slide to the left to make the image lighter (more transparent) and to the right to make it darker (less transparent). Adjust until you can still read the watermark but it isn't hiding the beauty of your image. You decide what is appropriate here. With the right hue and transparency your watermark is a beautiful addition to the image.

Poll and Discussion

We would love to hear how this tutorial was helpful to you. And, please participate in the poll and discussion so we can continue to learn from each other.

  1. Answer the question in the following poll and
  2. Leave a note below to share what device you are using (MAC, PC, etc.) and why you prefer the software you use.


What is your favorite digital image editor?

See results

© 2011 Deb Bryan

GIMP Watermark Guestbook - Did you find this tutorial helpful?

Submit a Comment
  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    4 years ago from Chico California

    @Glenda Motsavage: Thank you, Glenda. I am grateful this page has been helpful. Have a delightful weekend! Deb

  • Glenda Motsavage profile image

    Glenda Motsavage 

    4 years ago from The Sunshine State

    I cannot believe I haven't been safe-guarding my photos with something like this. I recently noticed one of my very favorite photos circulating on the Internet. I was so disappointed, which prompted me to search Squidoo for a watermark and/or copyright tutorial. This information is excellent - and it will be bookmarked! Thanks for creating it.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    absolutely fantastic tutorial, thank you so much. :)

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    GypsyOwl Thank you so much for the tutorial and free watermark program. I plan to use it a lot on my photos! Awesome lens! :D

  • donaldwilson profile image

    Don Wilson 

    5 years ago from Yakima, WA

    You've presented very clearly. Even I can create a watermark for my images, now. Thanks.

  • leatherwooddesign profile image

    Marisa Horn 

    6 years ago from Rintown Pa

    Great lens, if I ever find the time to work with GIMP again I will have to check out your lenses

  • Sylvestermouse profile image

    Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

    6 years ago from United States

    Returned to refresh my blessing on this lens because I really do think this is someone all of us should do to help protect our work.

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @anonymous: Hello Visitor. the PNG format is listed in the GIMP "Select File Type (By Extension)" area. But, the good news is you do not need to find it there in order to do this step. If you want to find it you will notice the file types are in alphabetical order.

    The easiest way to save as PNG is to type .png at the end of your image name and click the 'save' button.

    In other words if your image name is beautiful-flowers.xcf you would simply change it tobeautiful-flowers.png and click save.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Most of it was great very useful until i got to the Save as PNG! i can't find PNG anywhere in my save image! it has other formats only Gimp xcf image/ bzip archive/ gzip archive. having trouble finding as clear an explanation as yours on the net. I like the way you set out your instructions though!

  • salele profile image


    6 years ago

    Thanks for this tutorial. i have had GIMP installed on my laptop but only know how to resize images. This tutorial is simple enough for me to act on.

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @anonymous: Glad the watermark tutorial for GIMP was helpful and simple enough. I'd love to see what you create using it. Thanks for the comment!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    great turorial! i just finished reading it for help with creating a watermark. it seems simple enough. im looking forward to making one.

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @anonymous: Hello Phill,

    I'm guessing you want them to be side by side.

    1) Create a 'new' image and make sure it is the width of the two combined (if they are eac 200 pixels wide then make your new GIMP image 400 pixels wide.

    2) Select "open as layers" and find your images.

    3) Use the dragging tool to position them side by side.

    If you have a different goal in mind let me know and I will revise the steps.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Gypsyowl - how do I put two images next to each other on the gimp page please?

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @anonymous: I'm not sure if this is what you were asking for, but, it looks like a detailed tutorial if it is. Hope it helps. Thanks for dropping by. This appears to be a signature brush you can make once and then layer over images (make it transparent).

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I hope you might be able to help me with something. I have yet to find a detailed tutorial that shows me how to create a âsignature brushâ with GIMP. I donât have access to YouTube on my work computer and I donât have internet at home. I have waded through a lot of tutorialâs but none of them to be complete enough for me to understand them. I admit to being new to GIMP and recently had version 2.8 installed. Iâm no dummy and you would think thereâs a tut out there that I can understand and walk me through the process. I am feeling very frustrated, Harry

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    I am behind on replies to this guestbook. Thanks to everyone who commented and I am delighted it has been a helpful GIMP tutorial.

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @Jan 1980: Hello Jan, They might steal them, but, the credit will stay on them so anyone who sees them will know who owns them on sight. Then, if someone wants to buy a copy without the watermark they will easily find you.

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @anonymous: I am so glad to hear when this watermark tutorial has been helpful! Thanks so much for letting me know Wendy. I really appreciate the feedback.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I am learning how to use Gimp and your lens will be a big help. I was placing text on some of my images to make them unique, but it looked rather ugly. Watermarking is a much better idea.


  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @alexandradouglas: I am delighted it can help you. Thanks for letting me know. Brightest Blessings, Deb

  • Ardyn25 profile image


    6 years ago

    I was wondering over to say 'thank you' and found what I've been looking for. I just was thinking the other day, I wonder if you can watermark in gimp. Thanks...great directions.

  • alexandradouglas profile image

    Alexandra Douglas 

    6 years ago from Florida

    Thank you for this lens! It helps big time!

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @Ardyn25: Ardyn, I am so glad this is helpful. There are many other GIMP tutorials on Squidoo. This is one of the newest I created. Thanks again for dropping by. Have a great week, Deb

  • Jan 1980 profile image

    Jan 1980 

    6 years ago

    This is very useful if you want to protect your pictures, I think no one will steal any picture if there is watermark.

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @DebMartin: I am delighted this has been useful and thank you for your kind comment. GIMP has been remarkable for all of my graphic design, photo art, as well as photo editing.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Wow. Thanks for this. I wasn't more than a couple of days ago I was wishing I knew how to do this. Outstanding!

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    6 years ago from Chico California

    @John Dyhouse: You are welcome. Good to know it will be helpful. Thanks for dropping by!

  • John Dyhouse profile image

    John Dyhouse 

    6 years ago from UK

    I found it very useful, thanks for the tutorial

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing and information. Great lens!

  • nightbear lm profile image

    nightbear lm 

    6 years ago

    I have never mastered Gimp, This tutorial was excellent. I feel I could do this for sure. Thank you. blessed.

  • Franksterk profile image

    Frankie Kangas 

    6 years ago from California

    Thank you for this great tutorial. I was talking to my husband about creating a watermark for my photos. This is perfect. Blessed. Bear hugs, Frankster

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    While I do not use Gimp for graphic work (I use Corel Paintshop Pro X) this is a great tutorial for watermarking photos and graphics. This is something I should definitely be doing on a lot of my design work.

  • tjustleft profile image


    6 years ago

    This is a really good tip. Image theft has become rampant with so many sharing sites out now.

  • Vikk Simmons profile image

    'Vikk Simmons 

    6 years ago from Houston

    I was thinking about this yesterday as I was learning about Pinterest, which I how I discovered this lens, and thought I might look into it. I don't use most of my photographs online because of the copyright issues. I have a few on Squidoo that I may go back in now and watermark. Thanks.

  • Sylvestermouse profile image

    Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

    6 years ago from United States

    Oh, wow! This is totally fabulous! I have used Gimp to remove backgrounds from my photos, but I had no idea I could add a watermark with GIMP. Most Excellent tutorial! Thanks!

  • Laura45 LM profile image

    Laura45 LM 

    6 years ago

    Thank you so much for this information! I have used GIMP in the past, but not specifically for Watermarking my photos and your lense and its information is perfect!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I've been meaning to protect my images. Thanks for the detailed instructions to help me do just that!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Great tutorial. Thanks!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Bookmarking to come back later. With all the talk about copyright violation, this is important info and I'm just getting into Gimp. Hey, I've learned how to re-size my images to a square, lol.

  • tea lady 2 profile image


    6 years ago from Midwest, USA

    Thanks for a great page!

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    It is just a shame I can't spell...hit submit then saw what my spelling was like...sorry..

    Luv CHRISSYxx

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Absaolutely brilliant, thank you so much...all printed out as I do better by to make a watermark for my cards...

    Luv CHRISSYxx

  • Nancy Hardin profile image

    Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

    7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

    One of the most helpful lenses for writers I've seen. Thanks for sharing. Liked and Pinned.

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    7 years ago from Chico California

    @anonymous: Thank you Tipi. I am glad this was timely and helpful information about watermarks for your photos.

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    7 years ago from Chico California

    @Brite-Ideas: Thank you. I am glad this will be helpful information about GIMP for you.

  • GypsyOwl profile imageAUTHOR

    Deb Bryan 

    7 years ago from Chico California

    @BarbRad: Hello Barb,

    GIMP is originally for Unix and for MAC. The windows version is what I use. You can find information about the MAC version here /macintosh

    Thank you for your question. I will add this information to the tutorial page.

    I am also going to post it on your profile wall in case you don't get back to this page for awhile.



  • BarbRad profile image

    Barbara Radisavljevic 

    7 years ago from Templeton, CA

    i'll have to try this. Does it work with MAC, or only for Windows PC people?

  • Brite-Ideas profile image

    Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    This is fabulous information - I'll be doing this, thank you.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    My son was just talking to me today about watermarking photos to put online. I'm so glad I spotted the GIMP link on your bio-page again. this is very helpful for me to understand how it works. Thank you so much, you made my life so much more simple...that's so good! :)

  • JoyfulReviewer profile image


    7 years ago

    Thank you for another of your wonderful GIMP tutorials!

  • LisaAuch1 profile image

    Lisa Auch 

    7 years ago from Scotland

    Wow love it! and again you made it so easy

  • Charlino99 profile image

    Tonie Cook 

    7 years ago from USA

    Very informative! This will help a lot of people looking to protect their work online.

  • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

    Lisa Marie Gabriel 

    7 years ago from United Kingdom

    Favorited this for future reference. This is very useful! Thank you!

  • Heather426 profile image

    Heather Burns 

    7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

    awesome and amazing and blessed! Thank you so much! I was looking for this!

  • Paula Atwell profile image

    Paula Atwell 

    7 years ago from Cleveland, OH

    Very useful information. Thanks for providing this. :0

  • savenlives profile image


    7 years ago

    great explanations! I actually use other ways of doing a watermark because gimp was just too many steps. Wish I had this lens before to explain it step by step! Thanks so much! Nice job!

  • CrossCreations profile image

    Carolan Ross 

    7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Way to GO! I needed to learn this about how to watermark a photo, yet never expected such fine quality in a tutorial! I'm very impressed with the organization and step by step simplicity of the way you guide the reader through the process of watermarking a photo using GIMP. You've left no stone uncovered, wouldn't let the reader get lost, and and even includd screenshots of each step. You are obviously a teacher, and a very good one. Liked! Also featured on my numero uno lens about editing photos, and also *blessed* by this squid angel (which gets another feature over at crosscreations angel blessings). So how's them apples, ya GIMP! :-)


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