Using your own signature as a watermark in Lightroom 3.x

by Rod Barbee


You may already know about the watermarking capabilities of Lightroom 3.x. It’s pretty versatile; you can use text with any font on your computer, or you can use an image, say, a logo you’ve created.

But how about your signature? It’s actually pretty easy to do. You’ll need Photoshop or Elements or another image editor to create the file needed. I’ll describe how I do it in Photoshop.

First, of course, you need your signature. Use a good pen (maybe a gel ink pen) on some higher quality paper. Then scan it with a flatbed scanner and save it as a TIFF somewhere on your computer where you’ll be able to find it later. Be sure to crop tightly so that you’ll have the minimum of white space around the signature. Don’t have a flatbed scanner? Then take a digital picture of your signature using whatever close up gear you own.


Ok, now open the image in Photoshop and crop further if needed. Using the Magic wand tool, select the entire signature (uncheck the “contiguous” box in the tool bar).
You may need to refine the selection changing the tolerance setting of the Magic Wand tool. You can also refine your selection by smoothing it or increasing or decreasing the size of the selection. You can do all this via the “Select” menu in the menu bar.

If you have any stray marks on the paper you can invert the selection (Select>Inverse) so that everything but the signature is selected. Hit the “delete” key and choose white as the fill. Invert the selection again so that the signature is selected. If things look jagged try smoothing the selection and then filling (Edit>fill) with black. Clean up any areas in the signature that need it.















Once you’re satisfied with your signature it’s time to create the graphics file for the watermark. Make sure the image is in 8-bit mode by going to Image>Mode and checking 8 bit. Since you want everything but the signature to be transparent we’ll be saving the final file as a PNG. 

But first you need to make everything but the signature transparent. To do this, double click on the “background” layer (which should be your only layer) and click OK. The layer name should change to “Layer 0”.

Now make sure the signature is selected by using the Magic Wand tool (non-contiguous). Once you’re satisfied with your selection go to Select>Inverse and then hit the Delete key. You should now have a signature with a transparent background. Go to File>Save As and choose PNG as the file format. Name the file whatever you want but I’d suggest something like “signature1_black.png” or some such.

Now go back to the image and invert the selection again to make sure the signature is selected. Go to Edit>Fill and fill the signature with white. Again, go to Select>Inverse and hit the Delete key. This gives you a white signature. Save this file as before but append it with “white” rather than “black.” You can make any number of colored signatures this way.


Ok, so the signature image files have now been created. Now let’s go to Lightroom.


In Lightroom go to Edit>Edit Watermarks. At the top on the right you’ll see Image Options. Click Choose and navigate to where you’ve saved your signature PNG files and select the signature file of your choosing. Under Watermark Effects you can set opacity, size, inset, and anchor point. Click Save and name your watermark.

That’s all there is to it. Now you have your signature available to you for Lightroom Export functions like prints, web galleries and slide shows.