Signs of the Times - November 2013 - (Page 56)
Several shops address their approaches to 3-D sign design.
By Steve Aust
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 / www.signweb.com
study the full repertoire of applicable tools and materials in greater
depth to determine how to tackle a
particular job. Better solutions are
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 & 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
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
“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
The Moving Message
Technology Review - Caldera Flow+ 2.0 software and its Version 9.20 RIP
Technology Review - KeyedIn™ Sign Edition software
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
LEDs: The Omnipresent Illuminators
Signs of the Times - November 2013