It's well into early hours when I think about stuff. So here's some stuff I thought about.
- Don't do it. You may believe you're protecting your work, but it makes hardly any difference, if at all. Photoshop in particular makes removing the average watermark an utter breeze. My mother could remove a watermark with a quick google search on how to do it and which tools to select in the toolbar. Above all, watermarks are ugly to see and distract from your work.
- This is opinion, not fact. Watermarks make you look like a douche. If you're just starting out and upload a piece of work with a huge watermark over the top of it, you look like you care more about protecting your work than sharing it and progressing your talent. If that's the case, why are you sharing it at all?
- If you're a seasoned pro with a huge following and use watermarks, you too share most of the description above. I'll expand on this below as there's more to it.
- So you use watermarks because you're afraid of people ripping your work. I understand that. Here's the thing, though. If you are indeed just starting out, your work is most probably not worth ripping. I don't mean that as an insult, it's simply reality. "Just starting out" is exactly that. Absolutely anybody on the planet can start out, and their results will be the same as yours. Chances are, you followed some well known tutorials about some well known techniques, all of which anybody could do. Slapping on a watermark and ruining the visual appeal of your work is utterly pointless and will do you no favors.
- Watermarking with a solid reputation. Your style is distinguishable from everybody else and you have the benefit of tens of thousands of extra pairs of eyes looking out for you. Why are you watermarking your work? Nothing on the internet can remain unseen forever. If anybody attempts to steal your work, you're going to be informed quicker than you think.
So you've been ripped?
- If your work has bean ripped or stolen, it can feel like shit. However, what's actually happening? Regardless of your following, your digital art is copyrighted to you as standard when you upload it. Beyond that, each piece of work has source files (a PSD for example). If you never uploaded the source files, the ripper has no proof whatsoever that they created the material. You're winning already.
- If the ripper has a large reputation themselves, they will still eventually get caught and will have a long way to fall. Their reputation is ruined. You win.
- If the ripper is a noob, they're probably going to get away with it for longer. At the same time, they're gaining less from stealing your work because they're a nobody. No threat here. You win.
- Okay, so what should you actually do in the event of discovering something you worked hard on suddenly appear under somebody else's name? Firstly, you have the option of contacting them or not. Let's say you don't. You decide to let things happen naturally. They'll get questioned eventually and will fall, which is fine. Or, you could contact them and leave a polite message asking them to remove the infringing material. In most cases, they'll do just that.
- Let's say they don't remove it. Now you need to ask yourself how much damage it will cause you. Are they selling your work? Are they using it in such a way that could cause lasting damage to your career? Albeit very rare, this is where you should file a lawsuit. Remember, no matter how great their lawyer, they can't magic up the source files. As a bonus, if the ripper is a company or somebody who has gained financially from your work, you may be in for some substantial coins as compensation. Epic freaking win.
Alternatives to watermarking
- Lower resolution is much better than an ugly overlay. This could be used for resource packs, such as graphic elements. Note that websites such as GraphicRiver.net apply a watermark overlay automatically. I personally find it to be rather stupid. The watermark itself covers hardly any of the image with heaps of space in between the faint lines it does apply. Resizing even to 90% would be a better solution. Better yet, 50% resolution scaled to 100% so end users can still create mockups at actual size.
- My personal favorite is the invisible watermark. It may seem contradictory to everything I've said, but the majority of my work contains a huge "Lance Thackeray" over everything. How? The beauty is that changing just one character of a digital hex color has little difference on the human eye. No matter how much manipulation the image goes through, the adjacent pixels to my name will never be the same. If I was ever in a situation in which I had no source files, a bit of processing would reveal my name for all to see.
My point here is that watermarking your work is both hideous and pointless. It prevents nothing, only delays the inevitable. I cringe every time I see one. Showcase your work with pride and the knowledge that no matter what, your source files are the bottom line. Winner winner chicken dinner.
Mood: Daily Needs