Graphic Design Tips
Font Customization Techniques for Sign Logo Creation
By Dan Antonelli
Logo Design For Small Business
Dateline: February 16, 2005
More Graphic Design tips
When you use custom type treatments on your
logo designs for signage, you not only add to the
uniqueness of the design, but you also add a
personal touch as well. This is your chance to add
value to the design and to avoid having your design
look too rigid or “computer-generated.”
When your lettering is customized, your clients will
have a better feeling about the money being spent on
the design. Unfortunately, the general public’s perception
of design is that anyone with a computer can
execute a logo design. When you add customization
to the lettering, your clients will feel that their design
is truly unique. Because you’ve taken the time to
change the way the standard lettering might look,
clients will feel that no one else will have a design
There are hundreds of ways to customize type. I’ll
touch here on a few simple but effective techniques you
can employ to add style and flair to your designs.
Adding Serifs to Sans Serifs
This is an easy way to alter sans serif faces. I like to
start with a beefy block style, and add triangular serifs
to the corners of the letters. It gives the lettering a
whole new dimension.
Starting with Frutiger Ultra Black, I added
some serifs to the letters
to create a more custom feel.
Adding Prisms to Existing Fonts
This is an interesting lettering effect to add to your
lettering. It is not something that is common in logo
designs—and that only adds to its flair. This effect
can work well in single color usage as well as multicolor.
When using colors, use two shades of the same
color to enhance the realism of the depth.
This was one of my first forays into prismatic vinyl
boat lettering job for my father. Here
we laid the black vinyl down
first, then dark yellow and
finally pale yellow highlights on top.
You are able to execute this lettering technique
with layers of vinyl—overlaying a solid letter with the
highlight, or prism half. Until recently, this technique was a very time consuming,
manual process done in an illustration
program, letter by letter. (See SignCraft, July/August
1998, Issue #101, where I explain the process in
detail.) Each letter needed to be cut in half, and
appropriate shading paths needed to be created.
After that article appeared, I was asked to design
three prismatic fonts that would make it easier and
faster to create this effect. Those fonts are available
A sampling of some of the fonts I designed for SignDNA. The
same effects can be achieved by creating paths for all the
highlighting using an illustration program like Freehand or CorelDRAW.
Be careful with this effect! In retrospect, I tend to think that the
legibility here was hindered because the effect was used on too
much copy. It is more effective to limit your prismatic effects to
main copy with minimal characters.
This logo was designed specifically to fit this extended truck.
The unique prismatic effect and color combination made it a
real eye-catcher for the client.