Professional photographers and artists have a wide variety of applications to apply watermarks on their images, most of which all them to batch process dozens or hundreds of images at once. These applications allow them to add logos and text to an image, while controlling location, transparency and color, all with a click.
However, more amateur photographers and artists often times don’t have access to such tools. Though many are free, some feel that it is not worth the time and energy to learn a new application just to watermark the occasional image.
Still, if you upload photos to the Web and worry about how others might use it, watermarking them can go a long way to help protect them. If done right, it provides the only truly secure means of preventing others from plagiarizing your photos or using them commercially.
Fortunately, there are several online tools that can be used for very quick watermarking jobs, Today, we’re going to take a look at three of them and how well they perform.
Watermarktool has gained a fair amount of attention in recent weeks. It provides a simple, yet robust interface for applying watermarks to an image.
On the positive side, the tool allows you to add a watermark to multiple images at the same time. This can save time and reduce mistakes when trying to do a series of uploads since you only have to set your options once.
Watermark tool offers a great deal of flexibility with the watmermark you add. You can select the text you wish to display, including size font and color, the background box and the transparency for each item. You can also create a “repeating” watermark, which writes the words over the text in a loop, similar to what some stock photography agencies do.
The main drawback of this tool is that it has a 100kb per file size limit. Though that sounds like a lot, most of the images that I have from my cell phone and camera are many times that size and I had to find one that was pre-reduced to in order to test it.
However, once I did find an image that was the right size, the process worked well. Though I had some issues downloading the image as my browser kept wanting to save it as an “HTML” file and not a jpg (This is likely due to the non-standard extensions the site uses when displaying produced images). Still, the end result looks good and serves its purpose. It’s a solid choice over all in this field.
Sample (w/ Default Settings)
BiggerBids Image Watermarking Tool
On the surface, the BiggerBids Watermarking Tool is more robust than Watermarktool. It provides a slew of interesting features including the ability to set an image as the watermark, thus letting you add your logo to an image, you’re given more robust handling of the watermark, including the ability to set margins and alignment, and you can even resize the image.
However, the tool is filled with bugs. I tested this site in several different browsers but was unable to complete a single watermark all the way. Instead, I was forced to restart the process repeatedly to just go through motions a single time.
Uploading images is a gamble as sometimes the uploader seems to hang, the preview feature does not work well, the default font caused characters to disappear, the CAPTCHA only works half of the time and the two times I got an actual image, the first the zip file produced a “file not found” error.
I’ve included a sample below but, as you can see, it isn’t pretty due to errors caused by the default font.
All in all, this is a tool to stay away from until these bugs are fixed. If they’re able to correct these problems, then it might be a worthwhile service.
Sample (w/ Default Settings)
PicMarkr is a lesser-known online watermarking app on the broader Web that has gained at least some traction among the Flickr crowd.
When visiting the site, it is easy to see why. The tool looks and feels like a Flickr app, down to the colors and minimalist design scheme. However, the simple layout belies a very powerful watermarking tool.
PicMarkr can watermark multiple images at once (up to a 25 mb limit total), grab images from Flickr or from your hard drive, add a text, image or tiled watermark and even resize the image.
The drawback is that you do not get a great deal of control over how the watermark looks. There is only a limited set of options for the watermark itself. All text watermarks are black and white, there are only two opacities to choose from and exact placement is impossible. Similar restrictions exist for image and tiled watermarks.
Still, the watermarks are attractive and fairly effective. They fit well with the theme of the site and the relaxed upload restrictions make it easy to do a series of watermarks quickly on this site. If you can deal with the limited control over the look and feel, it is a great choice.
Sample (w/ Default Settings)
Of these three tools, PicMarkr is the one that stands out. Though Watermarktool provides more flexibility with the mark itself, it’s restrictive upload policy and lack of Flickr integration puts it behind PicMarkr. For Flickr users, there is no contest and for the rest of us, PickMarkr still comes out slightly ahead.
That being said, none of these tools are anywhere near as powerful as basic, freely-available offline apps. Though I can see artists using these when they are stuck without their favorite tools, such as being on a netbook while traveling, even those who only watermark images once in a while would probably be better off with an offline app.
Fortunately, PicMarkr does offer a pro version of its service for download and, as I said earlier, there are a slew of other image editors that can provide the same functionality.
A review of some of those will likely be forthcoming…