Sign & Digital Graphics

June '17

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26 • June 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL If it Looks Right, it's Right The art of visual balance Since 1985, Matt Charboneau has owned and operated Charboneau Signs in Loveland, Colorado. He is a consultant and designer for monument, channel let- ter and pylon sign projects. His book, "The Pre-Sale Sign Survey Field Guide -- The how-to guide on sign surveys for the profes- sional sign salesperson" can be ordered on his website: or by emailing him at Matt@ B Y M A T T C H A R B O N E A U Designing Award Winning Signs of equally spacing a design from the top and bottom and left to right within the available space. Does the design look like it's properly spaced on the sign face? If it does, it probably follows a visual balancing discipline. Simply put, LRIR (looks right, is right) is the process of visu- ally balancing the design within the space provided so it looks right to the naked eye, and appears balanced within the space provided. For those of us in the sign industry, using mechanical balanc- ing will, in most cases, produce a sign design that looks like it's sitting too low on the sign face, or too far to the left or right of center. Logo or Graphic Placement on the Sign Face In order to have an aesthetically pleasing face layout, you must visually kern or balance the spacing of the graphic elements (logo) within the space provided. It's all about the balance of the negative space and graphic elements, and how it all interacts with the available space on the sign face. As you can see in this example (Image 1 and Image 2) the graphic elements have been mechanically spaced for a mathematically consistent lay- out. Now take a look at Image 3, in this example the same logo has been moved up and to the right for a better visual balance. The sign now looks like it has been well planned, and is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and the name of the business is now the focal point of the sign, not the eye graphic. Text Only on a Sign Face Text must also follow the LRIR rule. As seen here in the following example (Image 4) when mechanically spaced, the letters appear to be sitting too low on the sign face. It's very subtle, but it's there. It appears to be sitting low on the face. When you apply the LRIR rule, you must pay careful attention to the shape of the letters, the kerning and its placement on the sign face. (Image 5). T he owner loves the design you came up with, and so does the landlord, in fact, the entire design approval commit- tee thinks it's a beautiful design. However, someone in brand management mentioned that they measured the sign face and the logo, and the logo is not sitting perfectly centered top-to- bottom nor left to right on the sign face and they want you to move it up to where it should be. Once you adjust it they are ready to sign off on the design. Our industry demands that we merge the disciplines of architectural and mechanical drafting with the graphic disci- plines of commercial sign design. Sometimes we need to edu- cate those who are not in the know on how visual balancing trumps mechanical balancing when it comes to signage. Mechanical Versus Visual Balancing Mechanical balancing is the use of a mathematical equation to provide equal spacing around a design, from top to bottom, and left to right. Some firms depend on mechanical balancing because their world is driven by 90 degree angles and math- ematical equations. Visual balancing of a design is much different than mechani- cal balancing. Balance is defined by Merriam-Webster as "an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements." This is where cre- ative takes the lead and overrides the rigidity behind the math

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