A sign with nothing but letters on it is often boring. Especially if you're paying to have a custom sign created, there's a good chance you'd like the final product to be attention-getting and interesting.
One solution is to use imagery on your custom signs. Read on to explore four techniques using images to make your signs more compelling.
Think of the common traffic signs. A stop sign, for example, gets a lot of mileage out of symbolism. The red sign with an octagon shape is ubiquitous throughout much of the world because it's a consistent symbol. You can see one with a Chinese character on it and you'll know what it means because the symbol is that strong.
Employing symbolic shapes and colors can give a sign power. For example, a workplace might use safety orange on its custom signs to ensure everybody reads them.
Using photography is often the simplest way to conceptualize a sign. However, it can add complexities.
Foremost, you have to make the color scheme work. That means either selecting a photo that already stands out and matches the color scheme you want, or having a photo edited to match the color scheme.
Also, mixing lettering with photos requires some thought. Do you want the letters to overlap the image? If so, you'll likely want to use solid letters with outlines to separate them from the surrounding imagery.
Another approach is to use abstract forms to make a sign pop. This is often ideal when you want to have custom signs that are enticing, but you don't want to use photography or pay for the rights to images.
Even if you use an abstract image, it often creates some of the contrast issues that a photo does. On the upside, you usually have more room to darken or lighten the abstract image for contrast against lettering. This often means you don't have to be as aggressive with solid colors and outlines.
Drawn graphics can provide imagery in a way that imitates all of the above approaches. You can create a simplified drawing, for example, to give an image a sense of symbolism and abstraction. At the same time, you can use a form that is recognizable and realistic enough that it will serve the same purpose as a photo would. A dentist's office might use a graphic of a tooth on its custom signage, for example, to provide imagery and convey its purpose with a symbol.