Interesting Facts About Designing Signs

by Casey Valiant on May 30, 2013

Signs require a specific eye for design. There are a variety of different rules for print design, as opposed to online viewing. These guidelines make for the best quality for each medium. For instance, if you place a photo on a blue background for online use, you should place the background first, then the photo on top. The same technique, however, does not work for most print mediums because the photo will assume a blue tinge. To place a photo on a colored background for print, it is necessary to knock out a square of the background that’s 1/16 of an inch smaller than the photo. This allows the photo to be printed without any negative effects from the background color.

An anomaly to the above scenario is signs. Even though they are printed, signs are designed following the same rules as those projects done for online viewing. SIGNARAMA’s wide format sign printers handle the knockout for you.

Viewing Distance

SignsViewing distance is also vitally important when is comes to designing signs. A sign designer is fluent in viewing distance strategies, but other graphic designers might not know these tips and tricks. This can lead to signs that are difficult to read. With signs, viewing distance can be up to 1,000 feet away, and so everything has to be designed as such. For typical business signs, this means including very little text, except a company name, and an image that takes up most of the background.

Think of the gas station and fast food signs on the highway. You recognize the iconic Golden Arches from a distance, or the welcome logo of a Shell station when the gas needle is bouncing on empty. There are no addresses or slogans on those signs, nothing except the company name and the giant logo, which is easily viewable from a quarter mile away.

Vehicle Wraps Are Not 2D

Vehicle wraps are completely different from other signs. When a sign designer constructs a vehicle wrap, they take into account that the design is intended for a contoured surface. There are a lot of measurements when it comes to vehicle wraps, you have to know how the hood intersects with the front quarter panels, which intersect with the doors, which intersect with the back quarter panels that transition into the back.

Graphic designers who do not construct vehicle wraps regularly tend to see cars as 2D projects, not 3D. They design the side view separately from the front view. However, if you design for distinct elements — the hood, the side, the back — the vehicle wrap will not fit together properly.

When designing vehicle wraps, you have to view the entire car or truck together as one design element. It is a lot like wrapping a globe, the panels must be in sync with each other to give the complete picture.

To design a good sign, it is best to work with a designer that specializes in signs. Sign creation uses many different characteristics than print brochures or online materials. The professionals at SIGNARAMA know how to design all types of signs and can even help you with permitting. Visit our website to learn more about all the different signs available at your local SIGNARAMA store.

This post was written by...

– who has written 73 posts on Signarama Blog.

is the co-owner of SIGNARAMA Evansville. He graduated from Purdue University with a Computer Graphics Technology degree in 1999. He spent 3 years modeling in Salt Lake City (okay, 3D modeling for flight sim trainers for the US Navy) before moving to Texas to work with an international student ministry on the campus of Texas A&M. His wife, Kristi, is an award winning picture book author and illustrator. Whenever the occasion presents itself, Casey rides hippos bareback.

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