Design | Ideas & Tips
Contrary to popular belief, graphic design is not all about artistic skill. A variety of external factors, including everything from personal taste to raw talent, play a big role in how your design will turn out. Recognizing the importance of these outside influences on the success of the design process, we set out to develop a web site chock full of tools that would allow our customers to confidently create their own designs.
While anyone can dabble in the craft, some people are just better at it than others. If you’re one of those less fortunate, not-so-artistic types, not to worry. By following the guidelines we’ve set forth below, you should have no trouble designing a respectable sign, banner or vehicle layout, no matter your pre-existing artistic ability.
Choose colors that will not blend together and opt for combinations that are easy on the eyes. While red on black is not a very readable choice, if that is what you want, fine. Keep in mind, however, that by choosing tone-on-tone variations you are sacrificing readability. If your potential customers can’t easily read your sign, chances are they’ll ignore it. Over the long haul, that can result in a significant loss of business. In most cases, the farther away you can read your advertisement the better. Some good color selections are yellow with black, yellow with green, white with any dark color (i.e. blue with white, red with white, etc.). The key is to choose colors that sharply contrast each other so as to leap off the design. If you’re still set on using dark combinations, like red on black, consider outlining the edge of your letters in white. This technique allows for separation between the colors and will attract your audience’s eye much better.
Choose a shape that fits your design’s intended concept. For example, if you are designing a sign with long rows of text, then opt for a long rectangular sign to accommodate your lettering. Do not attempt to squeeze it all in on a square sign. Doing so will force you to use smaller letters and will result in a lot of wasted space. The same rule of thumb applies if your intended design requires several short rows of text, one on top of the other. In this instance, opt for a sign shaped to fit your lettering.
Do not get carried away with information overload. Give your audience only the details they need and no more. The more you try to squeeze into your design, the more it detracts from the sign’s effectiveness. General rule of thumb: If it needs to be said say it; if not, leave it off.
Fill as much of the sign’s area as possible. This doesn’t mean you should get carried away and start adding text or graphics to every square inch of the design. Fill as much of the space in with your text as you can (remember, large letters can be read from a farther distance) then get creative with the remaining free space to make it as attractive and eye-appealing as possible.
Graphics, colors, borders, shadows, etc., all add their own flavor to your design. Be bold and experiment with a few of these techniques to see what you come up with; you might be pleasantly surprised with the results. We have the ability to create any or all of these enhancements if you wish to incorporate them into your design.
Alignment is extremely important in a design’s overall visual appeal. We have tools that can center-, left- or right-align all of your text for you. If the design is meant to be aligned, make sure that it is. If not, make it obvious that the design was purposely misaligned. You don’t want your advertisement to appear amateurish. If your design’s elements are not in proper alignment, it will show.
Our final piece of do-it-yourself design advice is to examine other designs. Search for some existing designs you like for inspiration. To that end, we add new design templates to our database on a regular basis. Feel free to modify or copy them as you see fit.
If, having reviewed all these design tips, you are still feeling uncomfortable about the prospect of designing your own sign, you can send your request to our customer service staff. They will be happy to work within your specifications to create a design you will be thrilled with.
Our aluminum substrates are .040 thick. All of our aluminum is coated with a high quality, baked on high gloss enamel. This is a good choice for small to medium size indoor and outdoor signage.
Aluma-lite is a special order product. We do not have it as an option for you to select on our site. However for those of you looking for larger signs, it is truly the best choice for a large, rigid sign. It is lightweight yet strong. It will not warp, rot, or rust. Aluma-lite is a strong aluminum to plastic CPA core trade panel. Its unique corrugated core does not swell, wick water or corrode from the inside, making it perfect for outdoors even without edge sealing. This is an excellent choice for outdoor large sign applications. For more information you may contact us.
We offer either standard or premium vinyl for our non-reflective vinyl products. We have a wide selection of colors which can be viewed online. We can also special order unique colors upon your request (additional charges will apply).
Both of these products are considered to be excellent choices for indoor or outdoor applications.
- The Premium vinyl is 2 mil. thick and has a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years.
- The Standard vinyl is 3.5 mil. thick and has a life expectancy of 5 to 7 years.
- (Note: This is only a rating and should not be mistaken for a warranty.)
These are the specifications from the manufacturer that the vinyls have been tested and under normal conditions, the material should not peel, crack, delaminate, or fade for the period of time listed. We have found in most cases, the vinyl will considerably outlast these time periods.
- If you have decided to purchase a banner, it is very important to place your new banner is a position that will do your company the most good. By selecting the proper location, you can ensure that your new purchase will perform up to expectations and that it will be able to function to the utmost.
The old slogan, “Location, location, location,” applies to much more than real estate. When you are placing a banner, this is the most important factor. Here are some useful tips to help you find the best location for your banner.
Make it Visible
Placing a banner on the side of your building or under an overhang can greatly reduce the ability of potential customers to see this banner. You will need to make sure that your banner is located where it can be easily seen from the majority of directions and angles.
Try it Out
Before you finalize your banner’s position, try hanging it in several different angles. Then, place yourself in your customer’s position. Is it visible from the road, sitting in a car? Can it be easily seen from across the street in multiple directions? You will need to find the one location that provides the most visibility. Take some time with this step to make sure that your final location is the right location.
Remember the Elements
Weather can be detrimental to your new banner. If it is not secure properly, your banner may flap in the wind, making it unintelligible to passing pedestrians and vehicles. Make sure that your banner is located somewhere where there is at least some protection from the elements. If this is impossible, make sure that the banner is well secured and that it will not flap in the wind, obscuring the text.
Try to find a few impartial friends to test-drive your banner. Ask them to walk and/or drive by your location and get their input on what they think of the banner. Ideally, do not reveal what your banner says to these test-drivers. It is important to make sure that they are able to read the banner as they pass-by. You know what the banner says and your brain may automatically fill in places that may not be completely visible. By conducting this test, you can make sure that everyone will be able to read your banner, regardless of whether they are walking or driving by.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change
If your banner is not performing up to expectation, a move may be in order. Try a few different locations at first, to see which one provides the desired effect. Once you have narrowed down your options, you will be able to select the best location for your banner, based on actual customer reaction. This step should be carefully documented to provide you with the most useful data.
By following these steps, you will be able to get the most out of your banner, both in actual life of the banner and effectiveness in getting your message across.
For proper adherence, all surfaces should be considered as dirty and should therefore be cleaned prior to any vinyl application. Household surface cleaners, such as Windex, are acceptable; however, we recommend a 2-to-1 mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol. After thorough washing, wipe the surface dry with a clean, dry, lint-free cloth.
Air and surface temperature must be above 55 degrees Fahrenheit for the application of the vinyl. Apply the vinyl using the following steps:
Note: It is recommended that a novice installer have a helper present on the following steps. It is not a requirement however it will help insure a quality installation.)
Measure and mark the area you wish to apply your vinyl using a water-soluble pencil. Water soluble pencils are available on our accessory pages. Precision marking will help assure a level application. Once you have the overall area defined and marked, you should have a good idea as to where the upper right and left corners of the decal should be placed. At this time, take your decal (paper and all) and tape the right upper corner of it to your predetermined area. Have your assistant hold the upper left corner of the decal in place while you stand back a few feet and look at it. If you like it’s placement, move on to step 2.
Tape the left corner in place and put a piece of tape down the center of the decal. At this time, using your water-soluble pencil, place a mark on the right and left side of the decal. Make sure you mark both the tape and the surface you are mounting the decal to. You will be aligning these two marks later, so be sure you can see them clearly.
On the Left side of the decal, hold the paper and peel off the tape until you reach the center of the decal. (The decal should stay stuck to the application tape at this time) Cut the paper as close to the center as you can, without scratching your surface.
Spray the surface on the left side with water or application fluid (we recommend the application fluid).
Note: do not spray water or application fluid when using reflective vinyl. Reflective vinyl should be applied on a dry surface. Place the left side of the decal down on the surface, taking care to line up the lines you drew in step 2. With the application tape still intact, squeegee the decal to the surface by applying pressure with smooth even strokes. Start at the middle of the decal and work your way out to the left. Note: Before you squeegee, make sure there are no wrinkles in the decal or application tape.
Lift up the right hand side of the decal and remove the remainder of the backing paper. (It is ok to lift up the piece of center tape at this time). Apply application fluid to the right hand surface. Place the right hand decal taking care to align your marks on the right hand side. Again, start at the middle and squeegee toward the right hand side of the decal. Note: Before you squeegee make sure there are no wrinkles in the decal or application tape.
It is a good Idea to wait just a couple of minutes before you remove the application tape. This allows the application fluid to begin drying and will prevent the decal from trying to come up. Once it is adhered to the surface, squeegee the entire decal a second time. Then carefully peel the tape off the entire decal.
It is common for there to be some small bubbles throughout the decal. These bubbles will leave by themselves within a few weeks. If you have any major, bubbles you can eliminate them by carefully heating the area with a hair dryer or heat gun, then puncturing them with a needle and applying pressure with your thumb. Note: You can do more damage than good by chasing the smaller bubbles. They will leave themselves as the vinyl breathes and the application fluid evaporates.
In most instances, it is possible to remove vinyl lettering with no residual damage to the applied surface. While this is typically the case, different substrate materials can react in different ways, so if you’re unsure of the resulting reaction, it’s important to test an inconspicuous area of your surface before applying the following techniques to the entire area. The upside is that most surfaces, including vehicles, respond well to the vinyl removal technique outlined below, with no resulting damage to the surface.
When working with decals that have been in place for a significant length of time, there is the slight possibility that the paint around the decal will appear discolored or faded upon removal. Usually this only occurs in cases where the decal has been exposed to the sun for extreme periods of time. This significant sun exposure will result in a tan line effect on the surface, whereby the unexposed area under the decals will appear nice and shiny next to the faded, exposed surface.)
In the case of an old wooden sign, where the paint is already chipped and peeling, it is important to keep in mind that the paint will most likely peel off with the vinyl letters when you remove them.
The following step-by-step instructions provide a good basic plan for removing old vinyl decals, stripes and letters.
- Heat the surface of the decal with a heat gun. Then take a plastic removal squeegee and scrape vinyl from the surface. (Note: if the vinyl is old and brittle, it will most likely come off in small pieces. If the vinyl is not that old you may be able to pull it off in bigger chunks.)
- Once you have peeled all of the vinyl off, you will have to clean the adhesive off the surface with a product designed to remove adhesive without damaging the paint. We sell a Adhesive remover fluid that works well for this purpose.
- Clean the surface with soap and water then check to make sure there are no remaining pieces of vinyl or adhesive stuck to it. At this point, you are done. If you intend to apply new vinyl to the surface, be sure to clean it thoroughly, then wipe it down with alcohol to insure that none of the adhesive remover is left on the surface