Nail Shape Watermark Tutorial

I've received several questions through the various social outlets I participate in inquiring into how I get the curved shape for my watermark on my images like the one below. The technique is actually quite simple once you get the hang of the various tools needed for it. I use Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 to create the watermark for each image, so this tutorial will be based on the tools found in that version of Photoshop, used on a Mac-based platform. I'm unsure if the process is the same for older versions, other programs or different operating systems.


To get this shaped watermark, follow the Read More link.

The Tools  
You'll be using two Photoshop tools to create this curved watermark: the Pen Tool and the Type Tool. (The keyboard shortcuts for these tools are P and T, respectively.) The Pen Tool will create the curved line your text will follow, and this tool is much trickier to get the hang of than its colleague, the Text Tool. It provides a much smoother and better looking curve than any of the other Photoshop tools available though, so it's to your benefit to try to master its basic functions.

The Text Tool is a much more obvious tool but provides some great tweaks to anyone interested in making their text a little less standard. It works in tandem with the Pen Tool and automatically adjusts its curvature to meet the lines created by the Pen Tool. Other modifications I'm rather fond of using in the Text Tool include kerning, tracking and the various anti-aliasing methods.

The Text Tool will display all the fonts your computer currently has, and since you'll be saving your files as images, you don't need to worry about web-compatible fonts to use as watermarks. The choice as to which font you ultimately use is entirely up to you, but you should keep in mind how some fonts will look curved. Below, Dakota looks great when it's used in its normal, horizontal fashion, but when applied to a rather steep curve, the letters U and R distort and look a little messy.

Selecting the right font to use for your needs is just a matter of trial and error. You can always undo and change your font choice before you save it as an image, and the amount of fonts available to users nowadays are vast. dafont.com offers an enormous amount of selections, most free to users, so download a few, install them (Mac and PC instructions), and try out a few different options!

The Steps
These steps were all created by me, based on my experience in Photoshop, and may or may not be the best or most direct steps, but I assure you, they work!

Before you begin, you'll need to open the image you want to work on directly in Photoshop. For the purposes of this example, we'll be adding my watermark (blognailedit.blogspot.com) to the image I've already resized to my liking below. I chose to use my blog's URL as the watermark since there are several other nail blogs called "Nailed It" out there, and I wanted it to be more precise about where the images originate from. If your name is more original, you may want to just use the title of your blog, or even your name. It's up to you.



The first thing you need to do is create the line you would like your text to follow. In this case, I want my line to run around the cuticle area of my ring finger. To do this, follow the steps below.

1. Select your Pen Tool (P).

2. Set all your Pen Tool's presets to match these:


3. Click on the part of your image where you would like your curve, and subsequently your text, to begin. I want the "b" in "blognailedit" to start near the corner of my cuticle, as shown here. You have just placed an anchor, and will be creating more shortly.


4. Click again where you would like your curve to end and HOLD the click. Sometimes you need to split up the curve into several parts. Here, I'll need to end the curve twice since my cuticle at the base of my nail is much more curved than the side of my nail. You will need to experiment with where to end your curve until you get the hang of it. The result of your click will draw a straight line, as illustrated below. (Your line shouldn't be solid, I just made it black so you could see what's happening.)


5. To get the curve from this straight line, you should have not let go of your last click. You probably did to read my instructions, so just step backwards (the undo in Photoshop) so you only have the first anchor point laid (step 3). Got your click still held? Now drag your cursor down and away from your two anchor points. This starts to create a curve, and the direction in which you drag your cursor determines the shape of the curve. Again, play around with your anchors here until your curve matches your cuticle. Remember, I said I will create another anchor to get my line all the way down the side of my nail. For now, the curve I created I have only follows the line shown here. (The skinnier grey line above the black one is what you'll actually see during your editing.)


6.  You can let go of that click. Breathe. Now, on your keyboard, press and HOLD Option/Alt on your keyboard (I'm on a Mac). Hover over the anchor point shown until the cursor shown appears.


7.  Drag that anchor up towards the center anchor, until they're on top of one another. This is like resetting the curve to start where you wanted the first curve to end. If you don't do this, your next click will come from the anchor way off the course of the curve.


8.  Now repeat steps 3-6 above to lay your last anchor. I chose to lay my anchor near the tip of my nail on the right side of the picture. My curve now looks like this (again, outlined so you can see it, but it won't be on your image.) See that nice curve


See that nice curve? Now let's get the text on there.

9.  Now it's time to grab your Text Tool (T). Set up the color of your text and which font you would like first. Then, hover your text tool over the beginning of your curve until a cursor like the one shown appears. Click there.


That funny squiggle in the Text Tool is telling you that it will follow the curve of the Pen Tool's line you created earlier.

10.  Your cursor should be flashing, so go ahead and enter the text you'd like to appear. In this case, I entered "blognailedit.blogspot.com". See how closely it follows the line of my cuticle? Love it!


11. Now select your Move Tool from the toolbar. Don't use a shortcut because your Photoshop will think that you want to type the letter "v" at the end of the text you just finished. Simply click on the Move Tool icon, shown on the left.

You're almost there!

12.  Select your Pen Tool again (P) and then press Esc on your keyboard. This will remove the line and allow you to ensure you like the way your text looks.

Make sure when you save the image, you select a different format besides .psd. PSD is a Photoshop format that won't translate onto the web. I usually go with .png.

Mine turned out pretty well, but it does take some getting used to. I know this hasn't been the easiest tutorial, but I hope it has helped some of you! Here's my final result.

29 comments :

  1. I've always wondered how people do this :)

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  2. thats awesome. I wish I had photoshop Ive been wantin to do this soo bad. *sad face* Maybe one day. thanks for the tutorial!

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    1. There's a free program called GIMP that simulates many of Photoshop's features. It works better on PCs, but is also available for Macs. I've played with it a little, but not much to know if it has the same functionalities as I show here. It'd be a great tool to start with though!

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    2. yea, I have that and was just playing with it and it kinda has the same things but I cant figure it out its really weird. I was wondering if you would mind playin with it and tryin to figure it out?? if not thats cool too..

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    3. If I ever have the time, I'll give it a shot, but I may not have time. No promises!

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    4. thanks. I figured it out. if anyone else askes you the same question tell them to look up videos on youtube. thats what I did :)

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  3. Wow, thank you for sharing this with us. I'm going to give it a try.

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    1. Good luck! Let me know how it goes, I'd love to see if the tutorial made enough sense to get results.

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  4. Thank you so much for this tutorial! It's really helpful :)

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  5. thank you , so informative!!!!

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  6. really love your nails :)) but, love even more your iphone case :$ i really want one like that. can i ask you where did you buy it? :$ thanks ;)

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    1. I linked to the website you can purchase cases like mine in my original post here. They've got some great styles.

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  7. I did it, it has taken me all afternoon after a lot of practice. But fininally I nailed it!! I made mine using PSPX, this tutorial and one from (dare i say it ... sorry youtube.) But it was a bit from both that I managed to make mine.
    Thank you so much. Yay.

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    1. Awesome job! You'll be doing it without even thinking about the steps in no time. Mine literally takes about 1 minute to finish to completion.

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  8. Thank you for this tutorial. I was wondering, is there way to copy that layer so you can use the exact same one for each image without trying to do it? For example, I'm taking pictures for all of my image plates (~300) and it would be extremely time consuming to do this step for each one. Do you know if that is possible to just copy it and re use it for each image? Thanks!!

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    1. It would be a pain in the rear to have to redo that for every single image, so I'm happy to tell you that you won't have to, especially with consistently shaped edges on image plates. Once you've created your text, you'll see that it has its own layer in your layers window. (If you can't see your layers window, go to Window and ensure that Layers has a checkmark beside it.) Select that layer, then do a Command+A (Select All). Press Command+C (Copy) after you've selected everything in that layer, then press Command+V (Paste) in the image you'd like to copy the text over into. It should bring in the same text, and the same shape. It won't bring over the Layer styles if you've applied any, but basic text like the text I used in my examples don't have any special effects applied.

      I hope this helps!

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    2. Awesome, thank you SO much! I will try this. I am a noob at Photoshop, I'd like to eventually be able to change the design on my blogspot page but for now... it is staying kinda default images. haha.

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  9. Where did you get this nail polish?? And what brand is it??

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Your cursor won't flash. It will just change to have the squiggly line shown in the screenshot. Make sure your text cursor is placed directly over the line you drew with the pen tool, otherwise, it will just type a regular line of horizontal text. If you don't see the line drawn from your pen tool, you must've pressed Esc too soon, so step backward in Photoshop a few steps to try to get the line back. Hopefully that works!

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    2. I just realised it was there the whole time, my font was just too little to see it, i was embarassed that's why I deleted the comment lol. Thank you so much! Is there a way I can save the "layer" for a later time, so when I add a photo into photoshop, i can open that layer and voila my watermark will be there? Great tutorial by the way, love it so much!

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  11. Great tutorial, thanks for writing this up!

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  12. OMG I did it! The only bit I don't get, is how to copy and paste it onto another photo? The copy is'nt going into the clipboard. Great blog!

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  13. Incredibly helpful. Thank you so much for posting this!

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  14. Wow I always do my watermaks straight cuz I had no idea on how to curve them thanks a lot i will be tring this asap

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  15. Thanks for sharing that with me it looks really cool

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