How to Sign Your Work – Adding a Digital Signature To Your Photographs

A popular trend these days is to sign your images when posting online.  The thought is to treat the image more like it was being shown in a gallery and less like pixel dust in the wind. The process is really pretty easy to do.  I’d also like to state that this is a much more attractive way to watermark a photo.

Here’s the process for Photoshop Users

  1. Sign your name… take your time and give it a few tries.  If you’re using pen and paper, go with a thicker felt tip pen or marker.  If using a tablet, that works too.  Be sure to create a nice large signature so you’ll have plenty of pixels to work with.
  2. Scan or digitally capture the signature at a very high resolution.  You’re likely adding this to high-resolution imagery, so better to start large and scale down (instead of up).
  3. Clean up your signature with a Levels adjustment to make the whites and blacks crisp.
  4. Save two versions of your file.  One black on white and one white on black.  You can choose Image > Adjustments > Invert to make a negative image.
  5. When you’re ready to sign, choose File > Place and navigate to your signature file.  Choose the black or white signature based on your photo background.

  6. Scale the image to taste by dragging a corner handle.  Be sure to hold down the shift key to constrain the proportions of the scale.
  7. When ready to place the image, press the Return (Enter key).  The layer is added as a Smart Object which can be scaled or resized as needed.
  8. To blend the signature file, change the layers blending mode.  Use Multiply to drop out the white background or screen to drop out the black.

There you have it… a classy watermark that’s easy to reuse on all your online photos.

Do you have a favorite way to sign your digital images?  Share it in the comments please.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Posted on August 3, 2011, in HDR, Panoramic, Tutorial and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. The technique I always use is to create a Photoshop signature brush which can be applied to a styled layer. The technique is described by Glenn Mitchell here:

    An example here:
    (Lower right of image.)

    Easily sized signature.
    Use the color picker to select a compatible color from the image.
    Nice embossed effect.
    Can use opacity to reduce the strength of the impression, when appropriate.
    Can create an action to do the style layer.
    Can be placed anywhere, and even Transformed, although I wouldn’t recommend overdoing transformations.

    As with the technique described in this post, it isn’t a true “digital signature,” so it can be cloned or cropped out. But with many images, the signature can be placed so as to make removing or obscuring it very difficult.

  2. cool idea, i can’t make up my mind about watermarking, inside the image can detract from the image, in a border added to the image is a little better but easily removed, this gives me a third option to mull over and have a play with

  3. I created a file in photoshop where I used my tablet to get a good looking signature at high res, and then I used the pen tool to create a vector shape layer of the signature. That way I could scale it to any size, and use the shape layer color picker to make it any color on the fly.

  4. Nice post – easy to follow. Thanks for putting it up.

  5. GraphicDesigner_Chris

    Ahh, I was hoping to find some recommendations on using exif data here to make sure my info goes with the image wherever it ends up, especially after producing a finished graphic.

    • Richard Harrington

      Well… that’s not hard. Just make sure in Aperture, Bridge, or Lightroom you’ve tagged as you want. When you use the Save for Web command it goes with.

  6. Nice. Although instead of saving two images I think I’ll just save one and invert it when needed.

  7. GREAT IDEA! I actually do this on all my shots for the blog and FB. It is classy, and people often comment on it. The biggest positive here: it’s become my logo on everything. I know, when it comes to “branding” it probably shouldn’t be for every marketing item. A cool logo you can stamp everywhere would be ideal. But that is costly, and if you’re new to this biz, you are
    more likely saving every penny just to get that
    new lens. The only negative in using it as a logo, is most people don’t sign their name legibly and a stranger wouldn’t be able to figure out who you are. In that case, I’ve seen a website typed out neatly underneath the signature
    watermark. But then we are starting to look cluttered… Still, i love using my signature as a
    watermark. It’s easily recognizable, personal, and for a time, can be your logo, too.
    Check out some examples of mine on my blog:


  8. I’m guessing (hoping) you’re all talking about signatures that are different from the signatures you use to sign legal documents and cheques.

    • I use the same signature on my prints and have for 35 years with no ill effects. Of all the things in this world I’m going to worry about – that one isn’t making the list.

      • Fair enough, things may be different in other countries but here in the UK we are advised not to leave our signature visible on certain documents which are then scanned for online publication, such as for a planning application.

        I like the idea of using a signature as a watermark but would be tempted to use a different one to the one I use to authorise my bank.

      • Richard Harrington

        Whatever makes you comfortable… different laws and customs.

        Just make a very fancy flourish for your photos.

  9. I use lightroom or indesign to watermark my work.