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We have all seen watermarks on images, here on dA and around the internet.  And even though they have become a necessary step in the aid of preventing art theft/misuse of art, they are not always ideal.  It's really hard to signature or watermark an icon that is 50x50 pixels and still show it off, for example.  And even in larger pieces of art, sometimes they just look ugly or, like the watermark option offered by dA, take up too much of the image.

So what is the alternative?

Metadata
Metadata is data that can be added to an image file.  As you will see in my little walk through below, a variety of information can be added, from original artist's name, date of creation and location to terms of use, copyright information to contact information.  This is a handy tool to add ownership of your image to the file without taking anything away from the image; no watermark that could be removed or cropped.  The data added just becomes a part of the file.

How to add Metadata in Photoshop CS2
That's the program I have, so this is the basic walkthrough that you'll get based on my available tools ^^;.  I do believe that that most programs that allow the addition of metadata are similar, so clicking around in your file menu will likely help you find what you need =)

Step 1
Have Photoshop and your newest creation open.  I'm going to add data to my Bananach doll that I posted recently.
Step1 by Lyricanna

Step 2
Click file and then click on file info.
Step2 by Lyricanna

Step 3
Edit the information that you need to on this screen.  The default description may be enough for some, but IPTC Contact allows for contact information to be added and IPTC Status has a specific section for terms of use that you may also find useful =)  Do not forget to click that tiny arrow in the top right hand corner to save your metadata template for easy use and re-use.

Step3 by Lyricanna

Step4 by Lyricanna

Step5 by Lyricanna

Step 4
Check all of your information and then click okay.  Save your image.  Now to view your metadata!  I don't have a program that allows this but metapicz.com/#landing is a good free website to use to check that everything took.  

Programs that allow you to add metadata
Don't have Photoshop?  Here is a list of programs that allow the addition of metadata.

:star:Adobe Photoshop, most versions! (No idea how many people use really old versions, but 7 and up for sure)
:star:Gimp - it's free!
:star:Lightroom
:star:Inkscape
:star:Adobe Illustrator
:star:Paintshop Pro
:star:Macromedia Flash
:star: www.photome.de/ Photo Me

2 disclaimers:
1) Metadata and .png files do not get along, I have learned.  Only certain fields can be used in a .png file, and you have to use the Save For Web option when saving as a .png to preserve the data.  So this may not be ideal for those of us that prefer the .png format.  .jpeg is your best bet for this endeavour.  It seems to be pretty iffy on .gifs as well =/  So there is a sacrifice for transparency on images for safety.

2) Like the removal of watermarks, it is also possible to remove metadata =(  There is no fool proof way to protect your images but a combination of metadata and say a signature that blends in with your piece well enough that few people can see it to remove it, goes a long way.

3) I am not an expert and am rather new to metadata myself.  I did not mean for this article to come off as an "only way to do things"; as a matter of fact, use all the tools at your disposal that you feel comfortable using!  So I do not have all the answers but I will do what I can to see what I can learn =)

So now you know a little bit about images and metadata :dummy:



A different trick to protect your art!
Add a Comment:
 
:icondragona15:
Dragona15 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Interesting article. I did not know about metadata, but when I get the chance I will explore this tool and see how it might be helpful against little reposters.
I'm going to do a little tests like save a file with metadata and then 'crop' or 'edit' like art thieves do to see if metadata remains even after the picture has been so rudely changed. This metadata could be useful to fasten copyright reports in which the admins will immediately see if the image in question belongs or not to 'reposterusername'.

Thanks!
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem!
Reply
:iconvocalkokoro:
Vocalkokoro Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I use png files for everything I do, so it can be pretty difficult to watermark my work, especially when I upload huge comics. ^_^;

I use Gimp. Normally what I do, if I'm making a comic, is credit myself, color the words, surround the words in a white outline, and decrease the opacity of the words. Afterwards I place them in an area of the image where there are a decent amount of color changes near it. The reduced opacity would make it difficult to edit out since it's bending in with the background of the image, and the changes in color (Say, there is an object behind the watermark.), would make it even more difficult to edit out with simple programs. Plus, I would put the watermark near an area where the image would look awkward if it were ever cropped to get rid of the watermark.
Also, my comics are so big, and that I credit myself in each panel, that it would be frustrating for someone to have to remove every single watermark from all of the panels. It can be time-consuming and troublesome for me to have to take the time to watermark every single panel, but it's worth it.

I hope this helps anyone~. :heart:
Reply
:iconshadowflashdabearded:
This will help many and cut down administration work with art thieves. Nice one :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks =)
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013
Excellent information! Thank you for sharing :aww:
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome =)
Reply
:iconcality:
cality Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Great article, I never knew about this before! It's always nice to learn something new. :la:
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Indeed it is :la:
Reply
:iconsynconi:
synconi Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013   Artisan Crafter
This is really awesome and informative, going to go teach myself how to do this in the GIMP :eager:
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you think so =)

Might only be the newest version of Gimp from other comments I received though ^^;
Reply
:iconsynconi:
synconi Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013   Artisan Crafter
I shall have a try! :salute:
Reply
:iconvixendra:
VixenDra Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I can't find this option in Gimp....
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It's the newest version only, if I recall.
Reply
:iconvixendra:
VixenDra Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Ohh pity, I like my current version and I'm afraid of changes within my main software I like the way it is^^; I'll try to look around and find a sollution.
Reply
:iconmichellalonde:
MichelLalonde Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Professional Photographer
I know metadata can be erase in just one click but I still use it for a few reasons not mention here yet.

1-Easier to search for my stolen work. (image search engine use some of it)
2-Easier to prove that the work is mine. (better have a metadata than none when I ask that the image be removed. 

I use ACDSee for my metadata as it does bach processing and presets. I can easily do 1,000 images in just 30 sec. Ok.. I still have to add individual info like titles & descriptions but that's it.

Reply
:iconnanaleonti:
nanaleonti Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013   Digital Artist
I've been using this for a while! Cool!
Reply
:iconcatluvr2:
catluvr2 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You can view metadata by opening an image file in Textpad or other plain text editor.
Reply
:iconvixendra:
VixenDra Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
So changing file format(into one that doesn't support metadata) after downloading would ruin it?
Reply
:iconmichellalonde:
MichelLalonde Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Professional Photographer
Yes :-)
Reply
:iconvixendra:
VixenDra Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:(
Reply
:iconmichellalonde:
MichelLalonde Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Professional Photographer
Worst. Try this:
Go to one of your images on DA, right click on it & copy image, it goes in your clipboard.
Open a new document in PS and paste it there. Do an info on the file and you will find that all the metadata has disappeared.
The culprit is not PS but the method used to copy.
Reply
:iconvixendra:
VixenDra Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Sucks.
I've never been adding my own metadata... do I still have anything to check?
(I don't even have PS BTW:P so maybe I'd have to use Gimp, but since this whole metadatta sucks, I probably won't waste my time on it)
Reply
:iconmichellalonde:
MichelLalonde Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Professional Photographer
I still recommend using metadata for reasons I posted a few minutes after your post.
Reply
:iconvixendra:
VixenDra Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I use .png for all my submissions, especially for transparent ones...
Reply
:iconmichellalonde:
MichelLalonde Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Professional Photographer
The metadata section discuss here is not the EXIF but the IPTC photo metadata standard (International Press Telecommunication Council)
Just a quick visit to their site will explain why it is still very relevant to the art.
BTW DA respect metadata not like like Facebook, Twitter or Flickr who remove copyright information and other useful embedded data from pictures posted by their users.  
Reply
:iconzummerfish:
zummerfish Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I personally don't feel partial to metadata. It's a nice way for legal info, but on the other hand I also feel that it reveals private data about myself; like my software, my hardware like camera (some even include GPS data). Normally I wouldn't want to share that, so I'd have to manually set what I'd like to display. Watermarks are faster and less work imho.
Reply
:iconratchet-lombris:
Ratchet-lombris Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
QR Codes work, if you can watermark one over an image it MIGHT just work :P
Reply
:icongeek96boolean10:
geek96boolean10 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
it won't. QR codes rely on explicit edges of each pixel, so overlaying it would completely negate it. However, if you utilize the pixels to create art, e.g.  replace pixels with objects, then it might work (with a fair amount of tweaking).
Reply
:iconratchet-lombris:
Ratchet-lombris Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh true, and yeah that might defeat the purpose :\
Reply
:icontwarda8:
Twarda8 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
It is somewhat possible on certain artworks. Playing with levels, contrast, brighness, my bring up the QR code.
Reply
:icongeek96boolean10:
geek96boolean10 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
may. but then it looks worse than having a watermark - at least a watermark is recognizable.
Reply
:icontwarda8:
Twarda8 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013
Sometimes it may be invisible. Me myself, created a watermark for a lineart, plus rainbow colors overlay, protecting from Ms. Paint users - all barely visible. When you play around with filters, however, you can see it. Of course, in the same way you can "remove" it. All was created to make the editing the lineart more dificult (not impossible - that cannot be done if someone is really persistent).

But I agree.
Indeed. Good placed watermark, not only allows you to track back the source, but also makes it hard to being removed.
Reply
:iconwondersparks:
WonderSparks Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist

I didn't know GIMP had that function. Now I do. :dummy:

It's too bad there's no way to lock the metadata into the file so NOBODY could EVER take it off, so everyone knows who REALLY created "this fabulous piece of art", know what I mean? cx

Reply
:iconpointerofreality:
Pointerofreality Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013
Art thieves just aren't worth it anymore to me
Reply
:iconapple-kitty:
apple-kitty Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013   Traditional Artist
*puts on dunce hat* Still don't know what it does
Reply
:iconvixendra:
VixenDra Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Most are just dumb kinds unawared of copyright...
Reply
:iconoutsidefate:
OutsideFate Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
>Save image
>Convert to .png
>scrubbing done.


Seems much, much easier to break into shreds.
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It's an option, and as I said not fool proof at all.  Just another tool at people's disposal =)
Reply
:iconoutsidefate:
OutsideFate Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Also, doesn't dA scrub a lot of metadata of off image files during upload?
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Not that I have particularly noticed but it is a tool that I am new to using that other volunteers introduced me to, and quite enjoy.  I think it depends on which fields are used though.
Reply
:icondeadkman:
DeadKman Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013   General Artist
hm... metadata is easy to erase... 
At least erase the watermark takes a while and some skills (unless you got the "negative" of the watermark then it takes a second), but you can alter or delete the metadata instantly... even without doing it on propose.

It would be nice that it really work like that since the watermarks un-pretty the art while protect it.
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Actually, new versions of Photoshop have a tool that removes unwanted obstructions from images (meant for a pole in the way of a nice garden) that fills in the new blank space fairly accurately =/  Which works on watermarks too.  One button click is all it takes.  So I think it's good to have a variety of protection options =)
Reply
:icondeadkman:
DeadKman Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013   General Artist
yeah, i know... but i never trust automatic tools, it works sometimes and other don't, doing it by hand is always more accurate imo. Anyway...
I know a good way to get rid of them, but better not say lol. 
I've only used it for class assignments, never stole a pict or anything... 

It still harder than delete metadata... i even know a tool that remove all the extra datafork (metadata included) to a batch of images. so, it could delete the meta from a thousand of pics in a second.

Well, sadly n the matter of security i guess that when you upload something you are in some point making it public, no matter what security you use, someone will break it if they really really want it. but in the end mostly of the people kinda respect the signatures on the images and the people who don't... doesn't really matter what you do they will rip it.

Also the metadata will not prevent of someone to print and sale your designs on a t-shirt or playing cards... but a watermark may at least delay them a while lol
Reply
:iconancestorsrelic:
ancestorsrelic Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I use PhotoME, where you can add an edit EXIF and IPTC Metadata very easily.
Just google for PhotoME, its free.
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Very nice, will add a link into the article!
Reply
:iconancestorsrelic:
ancestorsrelic Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I wrote my little comment yesterday from my iPad and didn't had the link to the PhotoME-page there, but here it is: www.photome.de/
It is only a pure metadata-editor, but you can really edit almost everything in the EXIF and IPTC-areas with this little gem.
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for sharing =)
Reply
:iconjadekyy:
Jadekyy Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013
This is really interesting. I've never heard of it before. I might start using it!
Reply
:iconlyricanna:
Lyricanna Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you think so =)
Reply
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