Watermarks are often used these days to stamp an image or video with a personal brand for visibility and attribution. But they have a long history, touching everything from law to chemistry.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to what watermarks are, what they can be used for, and how to make, edit, and use them in your own work. Let’s get started!

  1. What is a watermark?
  2. How to make a watermark
  3. How to add a watermark to photos, videos, and documents

1. What Is a Watermark?

Watermarks used to be quite a bit different from what they are today, but the general principle remains the same. Watermarks were first created as stamp-like impressions in paper while it was still wet, hence the name. They have traditionally been used to denote dates, locations, paper quality, official documentation, or branding.

Examples of 3 different types of watermark: one on stationery, one on money, and one on a stock photo.
The quality mark at the top, anti-counterfeit device in the middle, and stock photo branding at the bottom are all types of watermark. 

These days, you’re more likely to see watermarks on digital images and videos. Digital artists will often put their name or social media account faintly across the middle of their art so others can’t share it without attribution. Some editing softwares automatically place a watermark on content to promote brand visibility and encourage users to subscribe to paid versions. Similarly, some social platforms like TikTok are well known for attaching a watermark to content shared from their platform, so creators can easily promote their TikTok accounts on different social media sites.

2. How to Make a Watermark

If you’re a digital artist, photographer, writer, or run an online shop, you should think about creating your own watermark – it can take just a few minutes. You can start with something you’ve already created, like a logo or signature, or you can start from scratch with digital design tools.

I recommend using Kapwing to create your watermark – it works on any device, in any browser, doesn’t require any downloads, and lets you create your watermark and add it to any type of content from photos and videos to GIFs and audio waveforms. Head to Kapwing.com in your browser and select Start Editing to enter the Kapwing Studio.

A screenshot of the Kapwing upload modal.

Here, you can upload any files you already have in order to make your watermark. Signatures and logos are the most common files to use, but you can also start from scratch to make a logo using custom text and images from the internet. Use the Text and Images tools in the upper toolbar to add text layers and search for images on the web.

Screenshots showing how to remove the background from an image in the Kapwing Studio.

When you’ve uploaded the visual assets you need or added your layers to the Studio, it’s time to edit your watermark. For all watermark images, you should first create a transparent background. If you’re using a logo photo or signature, use the Erase tool to remove the background sections around the part you want to use as a watermark. If you’re starting with a text box or PNG, just make the background transparent using the Background Color editor in the right-hand toolbar.

A screenshot showing how to add text in the Kapwing Studio.

No matter what kind of watermark you’re making, I recommend implementing a signature or text for attribution and exposure. In the Kapwing Studio, you can create a transparent signature in just a few clicks, or create text layers with custom font, style, color, outline, and even shadow effect.

3. How to Add a Watermark to Photos, Videos, and Documents

Whether you made your watermark in Kapwing or used another software, Kapwing is the best place to apply it to your content. Enter the Kapwing Studio and upload the photo, image, or document you want to add your watermark to, then upload your watermark file. If it’s already a PNG image, you can resize, rotate, position, and filter it however you want, but if it’s not a PNG you should start by using the Erase tool to remove its background.

A screenshot demonstrating how to lower the opacity of an image in the Kapwing Studio.

When your watermark is added to your content and positioned correctly, you should make it partially transparent so it blends in. Different people prefer different transparencies, but I recommend something around 30-40%. If you placed your watermark near the middle of your content for anti-piracy, I recommend using a very low opacity, whereas if your watermark is in the corner, you may not need to reduce your opacity whatsoever.

A screenshot showing how to add a watermark to an image in the Kapwing Studio.

If you’re adding a watermark to a document from Word or Google Docs, it’s easy to create a transparent PNG using Kapwing, then add it directly to your document. Just open the document in Word or Google Docs and drag the watermark image to where you want it to go.

I hope this article helps you use watermarks in your content! A professional watermark can make an enormous difference in your personal branding and growth, especially across social media platforms. For more tips and tutorials on creating great digital content in 2021, check out the Kapwing YouTube channel, or take a look at some related articles on watermarks and image overlays:

How to Make an Invisible Watermark Without Photoshop
How to Add Pictures to Your Videos
How to Make Custom Twitch Overlays
How to Create an Audio Watermark