GRAPHICS PRO

April '21

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8 8 G R A P H I C S P R O A P R I L 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M BASICS OF SIGN DESIGN First, dene the purpose of the sign. It has a job to do. To bet- ter understand how signs dier from one type to another, you need to rst categorize the sign into one of ve types: 1. Identication (business name, building, area, section, unit, module, etc.) 2. Informational (rules, regulations, contact, times, length, duration, special details, etc.) 3. Directional (go left, right, up, down, move over, merge, form one line, two miles ahead, etc.) 4. Safety (warning, danger, stay out, no running, low clearance, slippery, windy, wet, etc.) 5. Regulatory (any sign that states a law, ordinance, regulation, or directives for which a penalty can be charged or a ticket issued to those who violate the directives) Yes, I realize there is a large amount of crossover with sign types as sometimes an identication sign also contains some directional or regulatory information for the viewer, or a di- rectional sign may also contain some identication details. e point is to identify and assign the type of job the sign will perform—and design it accordingly. Second, overcome the obstacles. Good sign design requires an understanding of how the sign's job is aected by a variety of ob- stacles, restrictions, setbacks, and design conditions: • e location of the sign—(up high, down low, behind a tree, side of a wall, across the street) • e face size allowed—(too small for all the copy or too large for such a short message) • e viewing distance—(the average dis- tance that the sign will rst be seen by the viewer) • e viewing conditions—(behind a fence, always foggy, trees, people, a lot of bus trac, etc.) • e colors allowed—(many HOAs or Historic Districts put restrictions on col- ors used) • e shape and design—(some cities control design and styling to t a certain look or feel) • e budget—(every obstacle usually means more cost to work around the problem) • Function—(the sign may need to have changeable panels or tenant names) • What's under the ground—(large signs require large footers) • Wind load and engineering—many signs require engineer- ing so they don't crumble Next, think about contrast and legibility. One of the exercis- es I use in teaching sign design is a little graphic example that demonstrates how an image is viewed when looked at from a dis- tance. Where do your eyes go? What do they look at rst? What are they drawn to at rst glance? ese are the questions that sign designers constantly ask themselves during design. Words need the empty space around them for our eyes to quickly and easily identify them so our brains can read them. Crowding words and graphics makes things a lot harder to read even though letters may be twice the size. Of course, nobody would purposely design a sign like this; however, you can understand how the lack of space around words makes reading them much more dicult. In fact, has it felt slightly uncomfortable on your eyes to read that crowded sign example on page 87. Let's next talk about legible letter styles. Fonts do tell a story, don't they! Take for ex- ample the little gem of a sign on page 89. e use of the right font, in the right way, can add mood, charm, beauty, and class to a nor- mally boring sign design as long as legibility is maintained and the right fonts for the mes- sage are used. You can actually force the viewer's eyes to read a certain message on the sign first by the use of basic design and contrast techniques. In this example, the eyes naturally fall down to the lower segment of the sign to read that part first, then after reading it, it becomes clear that the first part of the sign (at the top) is critical to understanding the message—the upper part provided the why for the statement being made below. THE SQUINT TEST FOR LOGO DESIGNING T ry using the squint test on the next logo you design— it's the perfect test tool for determining if the shape, words, layout, and the iconic elements are all playing nicely together. Perform the squint test and ask yourself if the name of the business is the primary dominant element? If not, go back to the design program and adjust some things. It should be readable at all sizes. No excuses. How many logos out there violate this rule?

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