Volunteering as much on the support forums as us Adobe Community Professionals tend to do, we hear a lot of repeat tribulations. One of the common refrains I hear sung is What happened to my watermark? It was working just fine and then all of a sudden, it stopped!!! Don’t get me started on that multiple exclamation point thing. (hint: It is a good way to keep experts from taking you seriously.) One exclamation point conveys all you need to convey. But, the refrain remains, “What happened to my watermark?”
Most people don’t realize that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has three types of watermarks. The first is a function of Metadata and the Export Module. The other two are created in the Watermark Editor.
- Simple Watermark
- Watermark: Text-based
- Watermark: Graphic-based
Each of these can be appropriate to use. When things go awry and the watermark fails to show up on Export, Print, or other output, here are the most common causes listed by watermark type.
1. Simple Watermark
This was the original watermark included with Lightroom. It appeared in the Version 1.x Export dialog as a simple check box in the Image Settings section. There were no options, no font choices, no size selection – there was simply an on-off switch. So you click it and then ask “Where’s my watermark?”
The most common answer to the missing Simple Watermark is that you have failed to populate the Copyright field in the Metadata Panel. The Simple Watermark relies on this data field to provide the text with which to create your watermark. If the field is empty – you get no watermark.
Sometimes, I hear reports from users that they have text in this field and still no watermark appears. When confronted with this my next question is “What is the output size of your image?” The Simple Watermark is just that: simple. It has only one size – it is a fixed-pixel height and that height is not very big. If you export a large version of an image (e.g. 4500×3000 pixels) the watermark is there but it is tiny. You may have missed it. The bigger the exported image, the smaller the watermark is on that image. The Simple Watermark shows up nicely on an image to share but not on a seriously large version of your image.
2. Watermark: Text-based
Version 3 of Lightroom brought us the much-needed Watermark Editor. It was a definite step up from the Simple Watermark of Lightrooms 1 and 2. Now, you could specify a font, size, color and a host of other options, save them as a preset and use them from all of the Lightroom output modules.
In the above screenshot of the Lightroom Watermark Editor, I have highlighted the ability to control the text that will appear, the font in which it be rendered and the place to save a preset so that the watermark can be used repeatedly and from many output locations. So, that said: “Where’s my watermark?”
The most common problem with the Text-based watermark is the font itself. Certain fonts do not render successfully through Lightroom’s watermark engine. If you have a font that appears in the Watermark Editor but doesn’t appear on the image, your first port of call is to to try a different font. Older, non-standard fonts seem to have issues. Try your watermark with a font that ships with your OS as they tend to be vetted and work well.
What happened to my watermark? It was working just fine
and then all of a sudden, it stopped!!!
Another common issue is that the watermark used to work and now it doesn’t. In these cases, an OS upgrade can often be the root cause. Fonts are sometimes updated in OS updates. Usually, re-creation of the watermark and assigning it a new template name will rectify this. The non-functional template can then be discarded. Additionally, I have seen users who’ve “cleaned” up their fonts inadvertently delete a font that was part of a watermark template and not discover it for months.
Sometimes templates can be shared between users and potentially platforms. I have seen a Mac user share a Watermark preset template with a PC user. A font mismatch occurred and the watermark didn’t work. If you are sharing watermarks between multiple devices, fonts have to be in sync.
Bottom line: If it is a Text-based watermark, look to the font. If your must-have font won’t work. Consider creating a graphical version of the typeface and text and using the Graphic-based watermark.
3. Watermark: Graphic-based
Since Lightroom 3, the Watermark Editor has allowed the use of a graphic as a watermark. Any PNG or JPEG can be used as a watermark via the controls in the editor.
In the example above, I have highlighted where you select Graphic vs. Text, the Image Options picker and the resulting rendered watermark. The Watermark Editor works the same in Graphic mode as it did in Text mode. It simply replaces the font-rendered text string with an image of your choosing. So, that said: “Where’s my watermark?”
The Watermark editor is relying on an external graphic (much like a font). If that graphic file is moved, renamed or deleted, Lightroom has no way of knowing what happened to it. Result: you can get a file created with no watermark adorning it. This is very likely the issue if your watermark worked and then stopped working. People will clean up their files, folders and desktop periodically and often that watermark file is moved, renamed or deleted in the process. The time between creation, use and cleanup can be such that you don’t remember moving the watermark’s graphic file and are at a loss when it fails to appear.
It is vitally important that, when a file is linked to a watermark template, that it remain intact and in-place! If it isn’t you will need to update your template with the new location of the graphic file by clicking the [Choose…] button, finding the image again and updating your template. I create a special folder in the Lightroom Presets storage area that holds my watermark and Identity Plate JPEGs and PNGs. That folder never moves and I never loose connection to my Graphic-based watermarks.
Those are the biggies. 98% (made-up statistic) of all watermark issues can be solved by following these methods.
- Simple Watermark: Populate the Copyright field
- Text-based Watermark: Use a compatible font
- Graphic-based Watermark: Relink the moved, renamed, or deleted graphics file
I hope this helps you get those pesky missing watermarks restored. If you have followed these suggestions and are still having problems, hit the Adobe forums here and get more in-depth help.
Rikk Flohr © 2015