A lot of people don't understand that images on the web are usually copyrighted to the site in question. Then again, many people do know this, but just don't care. Folks love to swipe images off the web. I happen to have a cute picture of my dog, Lexi, giving high-five and people apparently love using it in chat forums, because I see a lot of hits to that image from various locations in my web stats. Just so people know where the image came from, I added MouseTrax.com to the image so it shows up in all the coded displays to it.
It's a fun picture, so this is a minor issue to me and I'm not too worried about it. But there are a lot of professional photographers and artists out there who want to use the web to display their work, but also need to protect their images from outright theft and copyright infringement. In this article, I'll show you a couple of easy ways to tag your images so people know who owns the rights to them.
Lots of imaging software applications have watermark capabilities. So if you don't have SnagIt, you may be able to use whatever graphics software you already have to create a watermark or text tag. But for this article, I'll show you how I easily do it with one of my favorite software programs...SnagIt, from TechSmith.com.
For under $40, SnagIt is one of the most useful programs you'll find for the price. I use it several times a day. Not just for screen captures, but also for image/photo enhancements, for adding text to image or creating illustrations. But you can also create your own watermark.
Assuming you have SnagIt, here are a couple ways to handle tagging your images.
Open SnagIt. In the Quick Launch area, you'll see the SnagIt Editor, click to open it.
Once the editor is opened, click File > Insert Image. Ferret around to find the picture you need and insert it into the editor by selecting the image from amongst your files.
Alternatively, you can open any image into the SnagIt Editor by right clicking the image file name and choosing the Open With option. Assuming you correctly installed SnagIt, you should see it listed as one of the programs you can use. Click that option as shown below.
Our assistant for this article will be our lovely model, Sheba. (Sheba was my daughter's dog when she was a child. Sadly, Sheba went to doggie heaven several years ago due to cancer.) Let's assume I wanted to put this photo on the web, but wanted to mark it with some type of proof that it was my picture. Note, these aren't fool-proof methods, as some people may be able to erase the tags. But it can help protect your images from most people who may not realize the images are copyrighted.
Make sure the Task Pane is visible. It generally appears when you open the editor. But if it's not visible along the right side of the editor, click View > Show Task Pane.
Move over to the Task Pane and click the drop down button, which is the topmost title area within the Task Pane, as shown in the following image. Lots of cool tools are available from the Task Pane and I encourage you to mess around with these features. For now, choose Watermark.
To use a watermark image, realize that you do need to have a graphic image already available to use, such as your logo. So if you don't already have such an animal, you'll want to dig into some graphics program and create one. By default, SnagIt has their own S logo for SnagIt. Now the only thing I happen to find irritating about this is that every time you return to the watermark, there's the path to the SnagIt logo. But I don't want to use their logo, I want my own. However, every time, I'm forced to again dig around my folder paths to go in search of my default watermark logo. As far as I can tell, there's no way to set the default to your own logo so that it is the path that is inserted the next time. I wish there was, but I don't see that ability.
To go in search of your own logo, click the folder button next to the path name and hunt out your image. Select it and that path will be inserted into the image file input box, as shown below.
In the above image, notice that there is a blue, hyperlink title for Advanced settings. Click that to move into the watermark options. Depending on your logo, you may have some fiddling to do in this task pane.
See the red circle below, inside it is my logo. Not very visible nor very useful in its default size, so fiddling I need to do.
If you plan to go this route, be sure to experiment with all the available settings. As you do, keep one eye on the image so you can see the change in order to decide which changes enhance the image and which don't. Use the Position sliders to move the watermark around the image. If you really want to annoy people who want your pictures, the best place to set the logo is right across pertinent parts of the image. This makes it nearly impossible for even the most talented artist to erase your logo while still leaving the original image intact. But if your goal is to show the picture in all its glory, this method can be a bit much.
If seeing the picture is important, then you might want to move the watermark to a less conspicuous location, such as the bottom of the image.
You'll also want to be sure to sample the various Direction choices. Assuming you're using the Emboss option, changing the direction of the shadows on the text can make a big difference in how clearly the content can be read.
Maybe your watermark doesn't have text that needs to be clearly read? Or maybe you don't care if it is read, because you know you'll be able to recognize your own content if discovered on someone else's web site. In that case, you may wish to fade the image out a bit. The Depth feature will allow you to decide how deeply you want the watermark impression pushed into the image.
As you can see in the sample below, my watermark isn't very imposing, yet it can still be read fairly well...at least the MouseTrax part can be seen.
How you decide to tag your images is up to you. But this is one classy way to handle that need.
Tagging with Text
Another way is to simply plaster some copyright text right on the image. SnagIt can easily handle this task, too.
Make sure the Paint Tools are displayed by clicking View > Show Paint Tools. This will display a panel along the left that contains various image modification tools.
The tool you want is the Text Tool, which is the button with the large A on it, as shown below. Click that tool.
Move your mouse anywhere over your image and click. This will drop a textbox on the image, as well as open the text editing dialog box. Set your attribute preferences...the size, color, font style, alignment, etc., from the available options within that dialog box. Then type your text. Be sure to drag the text dialog box away from your image so you can see the sample of how the text is displaying. (To drag the dialog box away, just click on the titlebar, hold it and drag as needed.)
If you realize what you're seeing isn't quite what you want, drag the mouse over the currently typed text to select it all and then change the attributes to get the desired look. But also know that you can make some further modifications by changing the size of the textbox after you type the text.
Once satisfied with the text, click the OK button in the text editing box to close it. This move leaves the textbox on top of your image. From here you can grab one of the handles to resize the box, if needed.
While the textbox is still selected, you'll also find several optional settings you can experiment with to change the display of the textbox. You can change the text color or shadow color, remove the shadow, or change the look of the textbox...all from within the Properties panel along the right.
Note! If you should click a new tool, which will deselect the textbox, know that you can just hit Ctrl + Z to undo your recent moves in order to get you back to the moment before you deselected the textbox...causing it to become selected again. Unlike vector graphics, selecting the box again is more difficult than just clicking on it.
The Opacity slider allows you to fade out the text so you can also make this tag less imposing if that's what you want.
To move the textbox around, move your mouse over the box until you see the four-arrow cursor. Note that the two-arrow cursor is the one that is used to change the size of the box. So watch the display of your cursor and move it around until you see the correct cursor display. When you get the four-arrows, click, hold and drag the textbox into the position you want.
Alternatively, you can also use your arrow keys to move the textbox around, if you're not too steady with the mouse. And if you need to make a more precise nudge to slip the box into the exact position, know that you can hold down the Ctrl key as you tap your directional arrow keys. By doing this, you crack through the default grid so the image nudges over in tinier increments.
And there you have it. Sheba's picture can now be placed on the web and if anyone tries to claim it as their own, the copyright will show where it really came from.
But again, realize that many artists could easily erase that content from the image. So if having the image tagged with your ownership is vital to you, then you'll want to use something that would be harder to remove, such as plastering your watermark right across the majority of the image, as I did earlier in this article. Although, many people will respect your copyright notice, assuming they realize it is a copyrighted image. So just adding that information will keep the more honest among us from swiping your stuff.
Finally, if you have a pile of images to which you want to apply a watermark, there's no need to modify each one individually. You can use SnagIt's Conversion feature to modify a bunch of images in just seconds. I'll discuss this feature in more detail in a future article. (Note! If you're reading this article in the future, be sure to check the TechTrax Archives for other SnagIt articles, as that promised article may now be there.)
Quickly, to convert several images at once, open SnagIt and click on the Convert Images option along the left.
That will open the Selecting Files dialog box. Click Add Files and go choose all the images you want to add. You can use the standard Windows Ctrl or Shift keys to add individual files to the selection or select a full range at once, respectively.
Once you've added all the files you need to convert, click the Next button at the bottom of the Wizard panels to move through the steps.
The next step allows you to pile on the options. You can add several options so your photos will be modified in many ways at once. As you can see in the image below, I have chosen to scale down the image size by 25%, add a border and, by clicking the Modify button, I'm now also adding the Watermark feature.
As you add each feature, their respective dialog box opens where you'll find all the optional settings for that feature. In the image below, you can see the options for the watermark again. However, for batch conversions, you won't see any of your own images. SnagIt gives you a SnagIt sample image to help you decipher the size, position and look of the watermark for each image. (Notice my mouse logo inside the red circle below.)
The next step is to choose the output folder where you want these newly converted images to be housed. You can also choose a new graphic format and even have new names automatically applied.
The last panel of the conversion wizard will provide you with a listing of all the selection stats to give you a chance to review what you've selected before you let 'er rip.
Yes, this can be a bit of a guessing game, since what you choose for one may not turn out as well on all your photos. You may want to convert them in smaller like batches. But also know that if your first attempt doesn't work out well...you can try again, because you are creating new versions of the original images, so your originals will always remain untouched. Just run the process again with some modification and overwrite the first attempt or select a new path for the next attempt so you can compare to see which version turned out the best.
If you'd like to try some other strategies to protect your image, you might want to read this article by Vic Ferri: Protecting Your Images on the Web. In it, Vic offers some coding methods to help protect your web images from being taken.