creating large images

Correct Letter Heights

Whether you are considering a vinyl banner, car sign, or window graphics, the size of your letters should be a key consideration. Letters that are too large can feel obnoxious; those that are too small will not have enough impact on your audience.

Letter Visibility

This chart gives you a good starting point for the purposes of designing your sign. You can also go by the rule of thumb that each inch of letter gives 10 feet of visibility for maximum impact – so a 5” letter can be read 50’ away.

Location

Where your sign will be located also tells you how far away most people will be from the sign when they see it. The farther away your audience is, the larger your letter will need to be to attract attention.

Color and Contrast

Although the letter visibility chart gives you a good starting point, a few more factors need to be considered before committing to a final design. One of these is the amount of contrast in your sign between the letters and the background. A higher contrast sign (such as black and white) is going to have better visibility that one with lower contrast (such as grey and red). If you choose a lower contrast design you may need larger letters to ensure your sign is visible from the appropriate distance.

Here are the best color combinations for contrast and readability:

  • Black on yellow
  • Black on white
  • Yellow on black
  • White on black
  • Blue on white

However, also consider the environment where your sign will be located; you want the colors of your sign (specifically the background) to contrast with the surroundings. For example, if your sign was going up on a red brick wall a red background would result in your sign blending into the wall, a white or yellow background would make your sign more noticeable.

Correct Letter Heights 2

Font

The type of font chosen for your design has an effect on the visibility of your sign. Thin or script fonts are more difficult to read than solid fonts with wider strokes. You can test out different fonts at home by printing them and hanging them on a wall. Typically, unless the script or thin font is associated with your brand, it would be advisable to choose a thicker font for your primary message.

With that in mind, here are the top 20 most popular fonts for signs:

1. Helvetica
2. Futura
3. Grammond
4. Bodoni
5. Frutiger
6. Trajan Bold
7. Myriad (Apple’s corporate font)
8. Minion
9. Bembo
10. Baskerville
11. Rockwell
12. Verdana
13. Franklin Gothic
14. Times New Roman
15. Gills Sans
16. Univers
17. Clarendon
18. FF Din
19. Avenir
20. Warnock Pro

Final Tip: Keep it Simple

Simple, well designed signs have the most impact. Try to keep your message straightforward, don’t try to cram too much information into your sign, you want to attract attention and encourage people to take the next step, whether it’s to call, check out your website, or come in for a visit. When in doubt, seek the services of a professional graphic designer for tips and advice.

One of the common issues that we encounter when producing vinyl banners or trade show graphics is low resolution or poor quality images. People will often take an image that is 3″ x 5″ and increase it to 3′ x 5′ and wonder why it looks really bad!!

If you have a good quality 300 dpi image that you need to make much larger here’s a Photoshop workaround that will achieve excellent results.

Please Note: Unfortunately this process will not make a poor quality image better!! It has to be a crisp, clean image to start with.

1. Open the image you need to enlarge. We’ll be increasing this image in size 10% at a time so we’re going to create an action to simplify this. You’ll also be able to use this Action in the future for any other images you need to enlarge.
2. Open the Actions palette by clicking the Window dropdown and choosing Actions or you can press Alt+ F9.

3. Click on the Create new action Button shown above. Call this new action 10% Image Upscale and all other settings should be as shown below.

4. Now we’re going to Record a 10% increase in the image size. Press the record button on the Actions palette.

5. Click the Image dropdown menu and choose image size. Under Document Size change inches to percent for both width and height and set the width and height to 110 and click OK. Match the other settings shown below.

6. On the Actions palette press the Stop button.

7. You have now created an action that will increase your image’s size by 10% each time you press the play button on your Action palette. Press the play button on your action palette until your image reaches the size you need for your vinyl banner or trade show display.

If you’re working with a 300 dpi image and you’ve got to enlarge it a lot, at some point the file size will become to large to manage. In large format printing (not offset printing) you can reduce your resolution to 120-150 dpi and still get a great finished product, this will also reduce your file size to a more manageable level. You now have an image that is suitable for using in a vinyl banner layout or in your trade show backdrops and custom displays.