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Which is the best option for a backlit white acrylic sign?

Discussion in 'Polls' started by myront, Dec 13, 2018.

Which is the best option for a backlit white acrylic sign?

  1. Option A

    1 vote(s)
    4.8%
  2. Option B

    20 vote(s)
    95.2%
  1. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    upload_2018-12-13_11-14-12.png
     
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  2. What about doing this instead? That way it doesn't look so "boxy"
     

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  3. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    I'v never understood the reason for going to all the trouble of making a backlit sign and then blanking out 90% of it with a dark color. If it's supposed to light up and be seen at night, those little lit up frilly letters will only be legible from maybe 200 feet or so.

    An electric sign should catch someone's eye from 1/4 mile away and as you come up on it be easily read. Sure, reverse backgrounds are appealing, but generally at night, not unless it's huge. Also, when doing electric signs, one should put more emphasis on bolder and heftier letters and graphics, as the light will play tricks on your eyes. Most colors will tend to dance to a degree.

    Now, it this sign is only being viewed at close distances, then it might not matter what you do.
     
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  4. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    I have a bigger problem with stark white backgrounds on sign faces, especially if the lettering and other line detail is thin. Over-glow of the sign face can literally make thin letters and line detail disappear at a certain distance because of the background's brightness. Then there's the style issue. Sign faces with white backgrounds tend to look a bit plain. The graphics really have to pop to overcome that.
     
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  5. It's all about designing what you want to be seen in white space (ie the letters). The letters would pop out a lot against the darker background
     
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  6. KMC

    KMC Graphic Artist

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    are you using opaque vinyl so it blocks out the lights or translucent?
    what are the other signs like around that location? (pick the one which will stand out more)
    what colour is the building its going on?
    how far away is your target audience?
    what size is the sign going to be?
    really depends on what blue you will be using on it (as blue is the first colour to disappear when lit up with lights)
     
  7. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    upload_2018-12-13_13-1-9.png
     
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  8. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Active Member

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    Consider more margin around the logo and text (it will be smaller, but it will read better, and that is usually what you are try to achieve). Do not box in "PLASTIC SURGURY", "Creative Creations Graphics" has a good idea. Also, you can make the "B" smaller so "Bluewater" can move up and maybe you can double stack "PLASTIC SURGERY". If you can, strengthen the stroke of the letter forms. Use translucent blue so the whole sign lights up.

    Just some ideas. I would check out Mike Stevens' "Mastering Layout" book for some basic design principles.
     
  9. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    Thank you all for your inputs.
    Client doesn't want us messing with there logo "too much". I do like the idea of extending the white block out though.
    We'll be doing a "double strike" on clear vinyl with lamination. May or may not cut out the white areas. It would reduce the risk of bubbles showing thru.
     
  10. Pixels Are Bad Mmmkay?

    Pixels Are Bad Mmmkay? Very Active Member

    That's a tad bit insulting, considering you don't know this person's skill level. Besides, it sounds like it's not even their design. They have to work with the company's existing logo so there's only so much one can do given the circumstances.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
  11. signbrad

    signbrad Member

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    In the original, the words seem uncomfortably crowded. More margin would help them, as has been mentioned. Stacking could help as well.
    Honestly, though, if the original design was done by a plastic surgeon, he or she didn't do too bad.
    Light-face letters seem to be popular among many people these days. Light-face strokes on sign work, however, can be weak.

    Bobby mentioned "overglow." This is also called "halation." Light tends to spill beyond the edges of letters on a lighted face, encroaching on the inter-letter spacing. This often calls for wider letter spacing to preserve legibility.
    Also, a light colored letter looks thicker on a dark background anyway, so wider spacing can be beneficial for this reason, too.
    This optical illusion, that a light letter appears bigger, is also why the dark background has an advantage over the light background on this sign—it helps the skinny letters a little.

    In my examples below, all the lettering is beefed up. And I've added more margin.

    Having spent years back-spraying lighted signs like this, the third one would easily require twice the hours in the spray booth due to the need for multiple masking. Of course, a digital print eliminates that problem. It just doesn't last as long as paint.

    Also, when I draw renderings like this, I usually show the retainer on the drawing, though I didn't in my sketches here. I am assuming the original design above is depicting the "visual opening" only. A typical retainer will cover an inch and a half of the face's edge and, of course, must be accounted for in the design.

    Brad
     

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  12. neato

    neato Very Active Member

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    Totally agree. The sign layout is fine in this case. A sign that size and shape is going to limit the layout no matter how hard you try.
     
  13. neato

    neato Very Active Member

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    Technically yes your designs are better as far as breathing room . But you've changed the font and look of the logo which probably isn't going to fly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
  14. signbrad

    signbrad Member

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    That's true. In many cases, the client will insist on keeping what they have. Still, I don't hesitate to offer improvements on a sign layout if it means their sign will be more effective. Often I will show one or two versions in addition to what they originally wanted, assuming there is enough money in the job to justify the extra layout time.
    If they don't want to change, I do what they want.

    Another point to consider is this: If a logo design is not versatile, might it be time to abandon what they like and have something better that would be more effective?
    I sometimes ask clients if they would be open to an improved look that would lend itself to multiple applications. Some designers are even in the habit of creating logo designs that have more than one version—one that fits a horizontal format better, for example, and one that fits a more vertical format better.

    Also, how important is preserving the look of a logo on a sign if it becomes difficult to decipher? Doesn't this defeat the purpose of the sign? This is a question that I have actually asked clients. Sometimes it sways them, sometimes it doesn't.

    But I think you have a good point. I did change the look considerably. Perhaps just moving the skinny letters upward into the wider part of the circle, without changing the typestyle, would have sufficed. They would have more margin that way. The dominant B at the top might have been enough to easily provide brand recognition—making up for potentially illegible small letters. Still, I would make clear to the client that the tight-spaced skinny letters will be hard to read at all but the closest viewing distances.

    In the end, though, my goal is not to save the world from weak sign work, or from sign work that I personally perceive to be weak. My goal is to get the money out of their pocket into mine. :)
     
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  15. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Active Member

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    I intended no insult when I mentioned Stevens' book. Many of you are familiar with it, as it has become a standard reference for sign makers since it came out. But it is rare to find someone from outside the industry who has even heard of it. Many of the design principles explained in the book are unique to sign making, but the ideas often translate to graphic design layouts in general. I can think of a few, at least, competent and experienced graphic designers who were influenced by this book years into their careers.

    The OP asked for an opinion, and rather than answer "A" or "B", I chose to offer something more comprehensive. I believe that is in the spirit of these kinds of discussions.
     
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  16. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    I like option B if you thicken the letters up some and get rid of that damn box around plastic surgery its confining the lettering

    Oh and 1 more thing dont use acrylic for this use lexan or polycarb or whatever its called now
     
  17. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    Some customers you just can't please. They insist on going the "cheapest" route possible. That would be using the existing substrate that's in place (white acrylic).
    I'm not usually in the loop on the sales end but I can assure you our sales staff pitched many different proposals and yes I would normally provide several design options. Nice signbrad, you have some good compositions there.
    My supervisor aka the owner will let me know how much time I should spend on these projects. Once he gets an idea what the customer's budget is and whether or not he feels they would be open for suggestions i.e. relax the budget a bit.
    signbrad, in this case there isn't a retainer as I too would depict that in the proof. Nor do I have a good photo of the existing. Probably because it's like 30ft up. I like to impose it onto the photo in the layout as well.
     
  18. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Active Member

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    Not "being in the loop" with sales is a recipe for disaster. No retainer? There will be no good outcome here. You should be consulted before your supervisor just tosses a project at you and expects it to be competently completed in an unrealistic timeframe and without adequate information.

    Design choices are based on information from the client, standard practices, and technical requirements. Choice of materials and installation methods will inform how the project is built, the layout and the colors. Communication with the client is essential in order for the designer to offer the best solution in the clients best interest. As a designer, you provide a much more important role than a sales person (unless you are an entry-level apprentice working for and being guided by an experienced sign professional).
     
  19. WhiskeyDreamer

    WhiskeyDreamer Professional Snow Ninja

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    Did a sign here a couple years back. White background with blue lettering. Got a call from the client a few days after install that the city contacted them that there was too much white on the sign. They have a percentage that they allow so that the signs aren't too bright. Crazy, right?
     
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  20. signbrad

    signbrad Member

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    I agree.
    Smart salespeople bring the designer into the discussion early in the game. Some sales guys think they can design and look for opportunities to try and prove it. But often they create more problems for everyone involved when they venture out of their area of expertise—which is selling. They remind me of car salesmen who think they are mechanical experts when they are not. They are just bluffing their way through.

    kccollins, if this sign is a flexible face, it could be an edge bleed, requiring no retainer. If so, it should be replaced with a flexible face rather than a hard plastic one.
     
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