FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions

Landscape or Portrait – Wait, are you painting my picture?!

When referring to a layout views, sign and graphics folks refer to the longest HORIZONTAL side as LANDSCAPE and the longest VERTICAL side as PORTRAIT when speaking of rectangular areas like sign faces.

Landscape and Portrait rectangle examples


Landscape and portrait layout examples in signs

What is the Pantone Matching System or PMS?

PMS stands for Pantone Matching System.

The Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.

 

PMS_Color_Chart

CMYK? RGB? HEX? SMH…

The acronyms CMYK, RGB and HEX all stand for color, in some fashion. Even PMS falls into this category. Following is an explanation in plain English.


CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black
Colors used in almost all printing processes. Hues are represented in percentages, as in:

Yellow is equal to
Cyan-0%, Magenta-0%, Yellow-100%, Black-0%

or a Purple color could be equal to
Cyan-75%, Magenta-100%, Yellow-0%, Black-0%.

You should get your corporate colors from your graphic designer in CMYK in order to best match sign materials and paint. If this is unavailable, a HEX number can most times be converted to CMYK to satisfying results.

RGB = Red, Green, Blue
These colors are also the used on your computer monitor in just another mathematical way and still rendered in percentages. These colors will not render correctly in print, they must be converted to CMYK in order to print correctly. We can still use them but the colors sometimes can be very different on-screen compared to in print or in paint or a vinyl material. The RGB number for the afore mentioned Purple is R=90, G=48, B=141.

rgb-cmyk


HEX = HexadecimalHexadecimal color chart
The universal number given to all colors rendered on a computer screen. It’s a six letter and/or number label that will look the same on virtually all monitors. For example, the same purple color mentioned above would be equal to HEX #5a2f8c. Again, if your designer or printer can not provide CMYK color percentages for you, ask for a HEX number.

Always choose the best method that will help us reproduce your corporate colors in the best and most accurate way possible.

Acrylic and Plexiglass sign faces, is there a difference?

Acrylic (polyacrylate) is marketed under many trade names including Plexiglas, Lucite, Perspex, Policril, Gavrieli, Vitroflex, Limacryl, R-Cast, Per-Clax, Plazcryl, Acrylex, Acrylite, Acrylplast, Altuglas, Polycast, Oroglass, Optix.

These differ from Lexan which is polycarbonate, and is sometimes used as bullet-proof glass. Although it is more shatter-resistant, it is more expensive than acrylic, yellows with prolonged exposure to sunlight, and is much more easily scratched. Therefore acrylic is more ideal for most interior and exterior design purposes.

Vector or Line Art, what is it?

Vector or Line art is any illustration material that contains no halftone, continuous tone, or tinted images. Pen-and-ink drawings are line art and the computer version is called vector art. The detail of the image remains the same whether small in size or scaled larger unlike a pixelated image.

Vector graphic examples of a tiger, grapes, water drop, man standing, and a leaf frame

Clip Art?

Ready made artwork sold or distributed for clipping and pasting into publications. Available in hard-copy books, and in electronic form, as files on a disk or on the internet for a nominal fee. Clip art cab be black and white or color.

Parsley and frog graphic examples of clip art for signs

PPI and DPI – do I need to know the difference?

PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch and DPI stands for Dots Per Inch. And, yes, you need to know the difference.

 

The resolution of a printed photo is often measured in DPI, or “dots per inch.” The DPI describes how many dots of ink the printer prints per line per inch. Therefore, the higher the DPI, the greater the detail of the printed image. However, even if a photo is printed with a high DPI, the detail represented in the photo can only be as high as the PPI.

Most modern printers print images with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI. Therefore, if you print a photo with a PPI of less than 300, you may notice the image is not as sharp as you would like. Of course, the detail in a 20×30 image may not need to be as clear as a 4×6 photo. But a good rule of thumb is to keep your PPI above 300 so your prints will look nice and clear.

 

High and low resolution photo examples of a purple flower

Translucent Vinyl vs Opaque.

Translucent films are high performance, flexible, translucent cast vinyl films which are especially suited for architectural graphic applications involving flexible and rigid backlit signage and awnings, as well as window graphics. These films maintain consistent color under both transmitted and reflected lighting conditions and adhere to a wide variety of properly prepared substrates. Some of these films may also be used with thermoforming, backlit applications. We buy most of our vinyl films from Wensco Sign Supply.

Opaque vinyl is also a cast vinyl film but is used for all applications that are not back lit. The material is solid and will not let light shine through like the translucent types.

Serif and Sans Serif type, what is the difference?

Didn’t Eric Clapton write a song about shooting a serif? Wait… never mind.


Serif and Sans Serif actually refer to type. A letter in a typeface with Serifs has a small line attached to the end of a stroke. A Sans Serif font does not. Simple as that.

 

Examples of serif and sans serif letter types

 

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