3 Easy Ways to Design Effective Signs and Graphics
We love printing big graphics and signs for customers here at Artisan Colour. We also want to make sure that the graphics we produce are effective. If the letters used for the text are printed with a color that is hard to differentiate from the background, are too small, or are created with a font that is not readable, then the sign is not going to have the desired impact.
Take into consideration the following elements of sign design when creating your sign or graphic. Coloring, text, and sizing all play a role in making a good sign.
Use these 3 factors to make sure you cover all the elements of good design for clear and impactful signs or graphics:
Step 1. Pay Attention to Color
Color is an element of a sign that can be used both creatively and technically to design a more effective sign.
Using color as a feature to attract attention to your sign is an obvious first step. Why is a stop sign red? Because this sign must catch your attention quickly. Red is bright and stands out in contrast to a background of green trees or blue sky.
Contrasting colors make text sharper and clearer to read. Contrast should occur between the text and the background so that what you are trying to say stands out. Black and white is the classic contrasting pair. As opposites, black and white help each other to show up boldly and clearly. One good way to choose contrasting colors is to use a color wheel. Pick colors that are directly across from each other on the wheel to create the greatest contrast.
Campaign signs are a great example of contrast. Leading up to election day you likely see red, white, and blue signs around where you live. Dark blues and whites create a great contrast with each other. Likewise, red and blue can be contrasting. Candidates’ names and positions are easy to read.
Realtor signs are another great example, using a dark blue, the SOLD lettering in white really stands out and highlights the key message these signs are meant to convey.
Increase the visibility of your sign by making a border that contrasts with its surroundings. You may notice interstate signs often have reflective white borders. This helps them to stand out – particularly at higher speeds. Use a similar border to frame your sign visually. Pick a color for the edge that stands out against the nearby background.
Step 2. Choose the Right Text
Signs exist to be read. Even though that is an obvious statement, there is often a temptation to choose style over the key function of the sign. When choosing text options, make sure you pick ones with an appropriate font, size, and kerning. Legible text is absolutely key to an effective sign.
The design opens the door for many different types of fonts. But very few are appropriate for signs. When choosing a font for a sign, look for open counters, or the emptiness inside letters. This is especially true if using a serif font. Serifs are the little caps on letters like “N” or “T” at the edges.
You can also experiment with the thickness of letters. Thin fonts can be difficult to read. Likewise, chunky letters may run together visually. Some of the most popular fonts for signs include Futura, Bondoni, and Helvetica.
There is a method to calculate the correct font sizing for a readable sign. It is technically known as the “legibility index” and can be found with a complicated mathematical equation. It is a ratio of the height of the letters to the distance from which they can be read.
But most people don’t have time to solve a math problem when designing a sign. So instead, there is a simple rough estimate to use: If you need your sign to be read at a distance of 150 feet, design it with 15-inch letters.
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Ever seen a printout where the letters are too smushed together or spread too far apart? It can make it difficult to recognize the word. When kerning is done correctly, the spacing between letters helps fit the word to the space on the sign but also keeps the word recognizable for ease of reading.
Five Elements of Good Sign Design
- - Bright colors
- - Contrasting colors
- - Simple text
- - Big enough text
- - Enough negative space
Step 3. Calculate Sizing
The size of your sign is part of your sign design. It should be large enough to adequately hold the letters of the size needed for legibility. Also, consider the background space as detailed below.
Paying attention to the white space or negative space surrounding the text on your sign is another element of design that should be carefully considered. Don’t be afraid to include a good amount of this space, even up to 40% of the sign. Extra negative space can lend more weight to the text that is written there.
Designing Effective Signs and Graphics
When you combine purposeful choices behind the color, text, and size you will design a sign or graphic that is accessible and effective. Get your message across with these smart strategies for design.
Find resources for designing and printing your unique signs or graphics when you work with Artisan Colour. Our color experts and print Artisans can help you create a sign that is well-designed, highly visible, and ultra-effective in delivering your message. Get started with our signage and graphics services today.