Signs of the Times - November 2013 - (Page 56)

Deep Thoughts Several shops address their approaches to 3-D sign design. By Steve Aust F or the majority of human history, signs were flat. Whether they were banners adorned with paint or vegetable dyes leading warring clans into battle, or a bracket-hung sign announcing the community pub or mercantile, the only viable way for most to create a sign was to paint a length of canvas or a slab of wood and apply letters and artwork with paintbrushes. As woodcarvers’ tools and skills evolved, signs with 3-D letters became more commonplace, although such projects were labor-intensive. Technological and safety advances with welding and other mechanicalfabrication techniques made the production of dimensional wood or metal signage viable. And, the advent of more efficient, better lightsources has assisted sign fabricators with effectively building signs with increasing depth and yielding tremendous results. Now, we’ve come to the 21stCentury paradox of commerce: the more tools we possess to deliver solutions, the more complex those solutions become. Equipment, software and components – now available to make a sign that might have been cost-prohibitive or impractical 20 years ago – are relatively routine today. However, these abundant choices also carry added responsibilities. Few, if any, one-size-fits-all solutions exist in the 3-D sign market. Designers and fabricators must The Wallis family — Jeff, Elaine and their son, Mark — has owned Signature Signs (Niagara Falls, ON, Canada) for 30 years. Plying their trade in a tourist-heavy area allows them to unleash creativity in many of their projects. A sign’s dimensionality is often a key part of its appeal. 56 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / NOVEMBER 2013 / study the full repertoire of applicable tools and materials in greater depth to determine how to tackle a particular job. Better solutions are now expected. Three diverse shops offer their approaches for dimensional-sign design and production. As with many of life’s puzzles, there’s often not an empirically right solution – just one that works for them. And, possibly, for you. Signature Signs Signature Signs & Image (Niagara Falls, ON, Canada), in business since 1983, is a full-service signshop that designs and fabricates sandblasted-wood signs; monument and building-mounted, 3-D signage; and wayfinding and architecturalsign systems, among other types. Jeff Wallis co-owns the business with his wife, Elaine, and son, Mark. Mark said sign-related technology has advanced hand-inhand with increasingly complex design and production. “I can remember when our sign designs involved simple squares and rectangles, with just a bit of lettering on them,” he said. “Now, our work has exploded into complex curves and dimensional shapes, and we’ve kept up with programs like CorelDRAW, the Adobe Creative Suite and [Autodesk’s] 3ds Max [CAD] software.” Although Mark admits he and Elaine still sometimes begin work with a hand-sketch that’s scanned into their PC workstations, he praised how the software facilitated their job. “3ds Max allows us to see inside our design, and confirm connection points for mounting and assembling the structure,” he said. “With this,

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - November 2013

Signs of the Times - November 2013
ST Update
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review - Caldera Flow+ 2.0 software and its Version 9.20 RIP
Technology Review - KeyedIn™ Sign Edition software
New Products
Design Matters
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
Deep Thoughts
Temporary Vanity
LEDs: The Omnipresent Illuminators
Accessible Training
Advertising Index
Editorially Speaking

Signs of the Times - November 2013