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How to discretely watermark photos to prevent theft on Windows 10

Watermarking is a safe way to keep images from being stolen. If you have your design portfolio online, a watermark in the middle, or across the image will prevent anyone from reusing it easily. It can still be traced over but that requires a lot of work. You may have noticed that stock photos often have an entire grid of text and lines over them that prevent them from being used for free. The thing is, these watermarks are obvious and someone may actually invest the time to remove them. If you’re worried about photos being stolen this way, it’s better to discretely watermark photos instead of doing is obviously where they may be removed.

The tool we’re going to use for adding a discrete watermark is Paint.net. The trick to it lies less in the tool, and more in knowing where and how to apply it.

Discrete watermark for photos

A discrete watermark for photos must meet the following requirements;

  1. It must be placed somewhere on the image that is highly unlikely to be cropped out i.e., it should not be at the corner of an image or along the sides. It is best used somewhere in the middle.
  2. It should contain information that tells you where the image is going e.g., if you’re sharing an icon with a client, you can use the client name as a watermark.
  3. The watermark must not be obvious. It should be discrete enough that it isn’t visible unless the image is examined very closely

Watermarking with Paint.net

Open the image you want to watermark and figure out where you want to place it. The image I’m using is that of a cat and cat fur is a pretty great place to hide a watermark. Look for anything that has a dense pattern. Next, use the color picker tool to find the exact color of the object you want to add the watermark to. If the object is a dense pattern, you will likely be dealing with shadows and shades of the color.

Once you’ve picked the color, go a shade lighter or darker just enough that it can be seen on the image if you look at it closely but don’t make it too obvious. You can use a slightly darker grey on a light grey, but not blue on orange.

Open the text tool in paint and add text to the area you selected for the watermark, and export the image. Do not overwrite the original one. That’s about it. If you see your image used somewhere you didn’t authorize it to be used, the watermark will be able to tell you where the image was sourced from.

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