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Creating & Using A Signature File
To Add A Signature To Your Photographs

This technique may be best for preserving texture or any variability in color intensity due to differing pen pressure, paper texture, or other differences. You can use it to add your signature to one of your pictures, or any other document you can drag into Photoshop (most likely as a PDF (Portable Document Format) file).

Create A Signature File

  1. Write your signature with your favorite pen or marker (black would probably make your work easier later) on a plain piece of paper.
  2. Scan it into a file accessible to Photoshop (.tiff or .pdf files would be better than .jpg). Using a higher resolution in the scan will give you more flexibility in changing the size as needed later without looking ragged.
  3. Open the file in Photoshop.
  4. Create a duplicate layer (click on “Layer” in the top menu, and then on “Duplicate Layer...”. Name appropriately.
  5. Deselect or hide the Background layer. The main reason for working with the duplicate layer is that when you erase its background, the result will be transparent instead of white. Having the untouched original handy when you screw up also has its advantages.
  6. Back on the duplicate layer, use the Magic Wand Tool. Make the Tolerance just large enough to handle variances in the paper color, uncheck Contiguous, and uncheck Sample All Layers. Click anywhere on the background.
  7. Use the Eraser tool to erase the background. Use a large brush with 100% Opacity and Flow to speed things up.
  8. To make things more convenient every time you use this file, measure how long the signature is in pixels (keep in mind, this is most likely less than the image width). You can either measure in inches and multiply by the number of pixels per inch, or just use the Ruler tool. It doesn’t need to be that precise. Write the length down using either the Note tool or with the Text tool on a hidden layer.
  9. Save as a Photoshop (.psd) file for later use.

Using Your File

  1. Open the file that needs the signature. Measure how many pixels long your signature needs to be (see Step 8 of “Create A Signature File” above). (There may be cases where the height of the signature is the limiting factor, not the length.)
  2. Open your signature file. Find the signature length (which is less than image width).
  3. Click on “Image” in the top menu, and then “Image Size”. Put a check in the Resample box. Change the units on the Width to Pixels. Multiply the current image width by the needed signature length from Step 1 and divide by the existing signature length (from Step 2). Enter that number as the new image width. Hit “OK”.
  4. Click on “Window” in the top menu, then “Arrange”, and then pick one of the tile options so you can see both files at once.
  5. Drag the layer that has the signature from your signature file (not the background layer) to the destination file. Make sure that layer is above the document layer. Use the Move tool to put it where you want it.
  6. You can rearrange your windows back to the way you had them earlier, if you like (possibly by clicking “Window” in the menu, followed by “Arrange”, followed by “Consolidate All to Tabs”). Go ahead and close your signature file without saving.
  7. If you want to change the color of this signature, see Changing The Color Of A Signature In A Signature File.
  8. Print or save your other file. If you are sending the file to somebody instead of a print, you may want to “Flatten Image” or “Merge Visible”, both of which are part of the “Layer” submenu.