In this day of computerized sign making it is all too easy to forget that 30 years ago all sign painters created their own letter styles. There was no “thousand font collection” to resort to. If you needed a nice script for a flower shop– you created it. If you needed a quick casual for a race car– you created it.
Back then, you had a handful of styles you learned and modified to suit the job. Sometimes you might make your script bolder or wider, but it was basically the same style. Your style. And if you needed to modify a letter to better suit your needs, you just did it on the fly.
The design of a sign is really no different than 30 years ago. The methods have changed but the basic principles still apply. And yet, sadly, many have allowed the methods to affect the principles. Having thousands of fonts at our disposal is no excuse for not applying the principles of good design. There will always be cases where you will find it necessary to modify your letters just as sign painters used to do.
Relying on ready-made fonts for every job will only get you so far. You must determine how the letters should be spaced and if they should be wider, narrower, larger or smaller. Let’s not forget that while the design the computer creates may be mathematically correct, there is no substitute for creativity of the artist himself. Besides the inherent limitations of fonts themselves, sometimes you just can’t find the right font for the job no matter how hard you look. To be able to say to yourself “Hey, why am I wasting time searching for the right font when I can just alter this font to suit my needs?” is true freedom. Don’t let the computer cap your creativity (your customers can do that just fine.) And you don’t have to be a font designer or unusually gifted to change a font to your liking. You’ll be surprised what a few simple alterations can do for the sign. And the satisfaction you will receive from your artistic accomplishment is well worth it. With that in mind… let’s customize some fonts…
Adding spurs is a simple method for turning almost any font into a rugged western style. Clarendon Bold, used in this example, is a good font that lends itself to this modification.
Draw an arrow.