How to Make and Add a Watermark in GIMP

If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes online, you’ve probably seen an image with a watermark. Watermarks make it easier to prove the source of an image, whether you’re a professional photographer or you just want to make sure you get credit for your sweet memes.  

Before we dive in, it’s important to choose what kind of watermark you want to add. Adding plain text is the simplest kind of watermark, but if you’re an artist or a business owner with a brand, it’s better to use a graphic watermark that helps support your brand by boosting visual recognition.

No matter which route you take, here are a couple of quick ways to add a watermark in GIMP!

Don’t worry, this is actually my photo, edited to be an example 😉 

Creating a Text Watermark in GIMP

A text watermark is the simplest kind of watermark that you can add. It doesn’t have any of the benefits of a fancier graphic watermark, but if you just want to add the name of a Facebook group or your Twitter username before sharing an image, this is the easiest way. 

Open up the image that you want to watermark in GIMP, and select the Text tool from the toolbox or use the shortcut T. I find the toolbox area to be frustratingly cramped when trying to choose a font since the font selection dropdown can’t scale upwards. Let’s use the Font dialog instead!

Even with the toolbox area set extra wide, the font selection dropdown doesn’t scale

Open the Window menu from the menubar, choose the submenu Dockable Dialogs, and then choose Fonts. The Fonts window should appear on the right of the interface, displaying a list of your available fonts in a scalable window, letting you see your options more clearly.

The on-image overlay for the text tool

Choose the area of the image where want to put your watermark, and click and drag to draw out a text box. You’ll see that a small overlay appears with handy controls – just keep in mind that if you change the settings here and then delete your text, they will all revert to the toolbox settings.

Click on the text box, then enter the text you want as your watermark. Adjust any other type settings you need, and then hit Esc to stop typing and exit the Type tool. You can always go back to it later if you need to adjust your settings by clicking on the text box using the Type tool.

If it turns out that your watermark isn’t exactly in the right place, switch to the Move tool and drag to move text. If your image moves instead of your text, make sure that you have your text layer selected in the Layers palette, and that the Move tool is set to Move the Active Layer

If you want to make your text slightly transparent in the classic watermark style, select the text layer in the Layers palette and adjust the Opacity setting until you’re happy with the results. Just make sure that you don’t make it so transparent that people ignore it!

Adding A Graphic Watermark in GIMP

Adding a graphic watermark in GIMP is even easier than adding a text watermark, and it gives you almost infinite flexibility when it comes to the content. For this guide, I’m assuming you’ve got your watermark in a separate file, preferably in PNG format with a transparent background.

(If you don’t already have a brand logo or wordmark ready for your graphic watermark, you might want to visit the quick guide I’ve prepared about how to make a logo in GIMP. If you have an image but it’s not on a transparent background, you can read the complete how-to post here.)

Open up your unwatermarked image, and then import the watermark file by opening the File menu and choosing Open As Layers. You can also use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + O (or Command + Option + O if you’re on a Mac). Your watermark image should appear, ready for placement!

Wilber needs a little bit of scaling before he can properly take credit for my his photograph

Depending on the pixel dimensions of your source image and your watermark image, you’ll probably have to do a little bit of resizing of the watermark to make it look good. Adjust the sizing using the Scale tool, and then adjust the placement using the Move tool. That’s all there is to it!

Bonus: Adding A Watermark Using GIMP Brushes

If any of you advanced users want to get extra fancy, you can even create a brush in GIMP using your watermark. Once it’s set up, this lets you watermark a whole lot of images very quickly with only a single click – although the graphic watermark method is still pretty good for that too.

If you’re interested in this bonus technique, check out the how-to guide on making GIMP brushes.

One Last Word About Watermarks

Someone real (not Uncle Ben) probably also said ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Now that you know how to add a watermark in GIMP, make sure that you only use your powers for good 😉

Protect your own images in the wilds of the internet, and never attempt to take credit for another artist’s work. Proper attribution makes the whole artistic community stronger!

About Thomas Boldt
I’ve been working with digital images since the year 2000 or so, when I got my first digital camera. I've tried many image editing programs. GIMP is a free and powerful software, but not exactly user-friendly until you get comfortable with it, and I wanted to make the learning process easier for you here.

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  • Carlos Manuel González

    Very handy, Thank You!

    Regards from Medellín, Colombia

    • Thomas Boldt

      I’m glad you found the tutorial helpful, Carlos!
      Cheers from Toronto, Canada =)

  • Kerry

    Hi Thomas,
    Just had to jump start in GIMP, and need watermarking PDFs, which I did with StampInStone from under MOSX10.7.5. But my MacBP just died from RadeonGate, had to find a second hand Mac, ending up in BigSur, where all my apps are dead. Myself am still recovering from the carnage Apple made with their OS …
    How do you save a watermark for reuse is my question here which I feel should be part of your nice tutorial ( StampInStone saved them as XML files I could also tweak in text to manage my collection of watermarks. I’m speaking simple text waters here to put accross a page as in “confidential” in light transparent color allowing full readability of the page.
    Thanks in advance for your help,

    • Thomas Boldt

      Hi Kerry, I don’t think GIMP can do text-based watermarks that are saved in text-editable XML files the way StampInStone does unless there’s a specialized plugin to handle it (which is possible, but I’m not aware of one). The solution I’d recommend really depends on how many different watermarks you’re talking about, but I think the best solution would be simply to create an XCF file for each watermark. Set up the text however you want in each file with a transparent background, and then export it as a PNG.

      It’s a clumsy solution if you have a lot of watermarks to manage, but if you do, then you’ll probably really benefit from a dedicated watermark program. I’m not quite sure what to recommend in that area, though.