Photoshop Tutorial: How to add Invisible Digital Watermark


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Photoshop: How Invisible Digital to Watermark

Wikipedia describes ‘digital watermarking’ as “is the process of embedding information into a digital signal”. Watermarking can be embedded in audio, video and still images but for the purposes here, we are focusing our attention on adding a digital watermark on a still image or photograph.

There are two types of watermarking. The first and most common is the process of embedding invisible digital information to a file that is transferred, copied or saved along with the image. This means that if someone uses your image without your permission, you have proof that the image is yours, simplifying any recourse. In theory, no print shop or editor would use the image without permission from the owner of the copyright. However, this requires the watermark to be ‘read’, not something every editor or photo processing technician checks before using.

Watermarking should always be the last thing you do to an image before saving it as a finished product or compressing it for use so for this example, we are going to assume that all that any post-production on our image has already been done and we are happy with the finished product.

To add an invisible digital watermark to an image In Photoshop, first you must register with Digimarc Corporation so that you have your own, personal Digimarc I.D. number. Once that is set, open the image you want to register and click on Filter, then Digimarc and Embed Watermark.

Click on image to view larger

Click on image to view larger

Once the Embed Watermark is selected, a second window pops up.

Click on image to view larger

Click on image to view larger

In this window, there are several adjustments that you can make to how your watermark will behave once added to the file.

If you select the first parameter, Personalize Digimarc, another window pops open allowing you to enter your Digimarc I.D. Number:

Click on image to view larger

Click on image to view larger

Select Okay and you go back to the original Embed Watermark window. The next bit of information you can customize is how you want the image classed – by Copyright Year, Image I.D. or by Transaction Number. Generally, copyright year works fine but if you have a specific way of classing your images, use Image I.D. Transaction I.D. refers to a specific job for a client or file name. Again, depending on how you file your images or jobs, this option may work better for you.

Image Attributes is self-explanatory – check off any that apply. Adult content does not filter adult images out at this time; however, in the future it might, protecting our children from inappropriate content.

Target Output is a bit difficult for most of us to classify – it is hard to say exactly where each image will eventually end up and since images can have only one watermark. What the pros do with images might be used for several purposes is to refrain from watermarking the image until just before sending the file to an editor, photo developer or posting the image on the web. This way they can customize the watermark for the specific use.

Watermark Durability refers to the visibility of the watermark once the information is embedded. The lower the durability rating, the cleaner the finished image is for print use. The higher the rating, the more noise can be seen in the image and only appropriate for use on the web.

Here is the image before applying a watermark:

Click on image to view larger

Click on image to view larger

Same image with a low durability setting:

Click on image to view larger

Click on image to view larger

And the same image with a high durability setting:

Click on image to view larger

Click on image to view larger

The difference is hard to see on a computer monitor however, what is evident is an overall fuzziness to the image and a lack to the depth of colors.

To find the right balance between the visibility and the durability or strength of the watermark, slide the rule back and forth. For print use, the lowest possible durability is required whereas for posting on the web, the noise of a high durability setting will not be noticed.

Because there can only be one Digimarc watermark per image, Digimarc suggests experimenting on practice images to find the right level of durability before permanently embedding the information on your original image.

Once the Digimarc watermark is in place, to verify the information is indeed on the file, click on Filter, then Digimarc and finally Read Watermark and the information window will pop up:

Click on image to view larger

Click on image to view larger

There is no surefire way of safeguarding your images completely – especially on the web. However, invisible watermarking is one way to make your images less desirable for would be creative property thieves!

Return tomorrow for Part Two on how to embed a visible watermark on your images for greater security when a clear image is not required!

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Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 Photoshop Tutorials
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