6 Questions To Determine The Best Material For Your Sign

It’s impossible to count the number of times we’ve had clients come in or call with an order, but they were uncertain what material they needed. There’s a set of questions we always ask when this happens. In an effort to expedite the order process, we’ve decided to share these questions with you—

1) Where is this sign going? Different materials are ideal for indoor signs versus outdoor signs. You don’t need a giant 4’ x 8’ aluminum sign for your tradeshow booth when a lightweight banner will do. Nor do you want to use a banner for your construction site sign that needs to be up for several months.

2) What is this sign being used for? This is similar to the question above, but if you tell us you’re looking for a banner to use in your tradeshow booth versus a banner to hang in front of your business, we’ll probably tell you about items we offer specifically for trade shows, such as tablecloths and backdrops. These options create a more professional appearance at such events. Knowing about a particular event you’re using a product for helps us make the best recommendation.

3) How are you mounting this sign? Just like where you’re using the sign, it’s important that we know how you plan to hang it. This helps us determine if any special brackets are required, if the sign will be single-sided or double-sided, and if the material we’ve picked will truly work best. For instance, if you want a 4’ x 8’ banner to use outdoors in an open space, we’d recommend mounting it to u-posts. You’ll also want wind slits because Kansas winds can quickly shred a banner without them.

4) How often will you use this sign? Continuing with the trade show idea from question #2— Say you ask about a foamcore board, but tell us you’ll be using it at several expos. We’re going to steer you in a different direction. Some materials are meant for one time use, while others can be used several times. Foamcore tends to get dings and dents during transport to and from events, so in this instance we’d be more likely to recommend a retractable banner or PVC sign.

5) How long will your sign be up? Are you setting up wayfinding signs for a one-day event? If so, we’d probably recommend coroplast yard signs. On the flipside, if you’re ordering a storefront sign that you hope to use for several years, we’ll probably suggest aluminum or a different long-term material.

6) What is your budget? You might come to us thinking you’ll only be able to afford a 4’ x 8’ banner to hang above your business storefront, when in reality you can afford a 4’x 8’ aluminum or polymetal panel. By being forthcoming with your budget for a sign, we can help you get the best bang for your buck on signage.

Take these questions into consideration before placing your next sign order. It makes the order process more efficient and allows us to better understand your needs before making additional suggestions. 

Graphic Design: 4 Things We MUST Know Before Starting Your Order

­When you’re placing a signage order with any company, it’s imperative that you ask about art charges and set up fees. It would be awful to get an unexpected $150 charge on an order you for which you were only quoted $100, right? We certainly think so!

As we mentioned in this blog, having vector art is an absolute must when creating signage. Without vector art we cannot print or plot cut materials for signage. If you’re unable to obtain vector art for your signs, it doesn’t mean we cannot help you. However, you’re likely to accrue an art charge.

Some shops will outsource the graphic design, but we staff two designers in house. One of whom has over twenty years of experience in the industry. At Signs & Design we typically charge about $75/hour for graphic design.

You can always expect to be notified beforehand if your order requires any graphic design time, as well as provided an estimate before we begin. There are several things you can do to help reduce the time it takes to recreate old art or for our graphic designers to put together artwork from scratch—

  • Identify any fonts. Even if you don’t have existing art, fonts are a crucial part of logo and sign design. By letting us know what type of font you want before our graphic designers get to work, you’re reducing the time they spend searching for fonts that fit your image. We suggest using dafont.com to locate fonts that you like. Once you’ve found one, you can provide the font name when placing your order.
  • Provide reference images. Research examples of logos or sign designs that you like before placing an order. This is especially crucial when you don’t have any existing artwork. While our designers are talented, having a starting point is always helpful. It ensures that they are on the right track at the beginning of the design process.
  • Know your colors. Here we talked about different color formats including Pantone. If you have specific Pantone colors required for your branding, make sure you note these when placing an order. If you do not have specific color values, it’s still helpful to note what colors you’d like to see in your logo. Whether you have a specific color in mind (i.e. K-State purple) or a vague color (i.e. dark blue, somewhere between navy and royal), it’s useful information.
  • Know dimensions. When we do a project such as a vehicle wrap, we always take the dimensions ourselves. But if you are calling in an order for something like yard signs, real estate signs, or site signs, we’ll need you to provide those dimensions. Our designers create vector art, meaning we can enlarge the design without reducing resolution. This isn’t helpful when you tell us your sign is a 4’ x 4’\ and it’s actually a 4’ x 8’. That’s going to result in a redesign and more graphic design charges accrued because it’s proportionally incorrect.

One last thing to note when discussing graphic design is that it will add time to your order. Though we do strive to send out proofs in a timely manner, placing an order with vector art in-hand will always expedite the process. If you have existing artwork and are unsure if it follows our artwork guidelines, you can view those here.


Artwork Guidelines

    • Convert type to curves or specify typestyle.
    • Convert outlines or strokes to a shape or path— ensures proper thickness of design during conversion.
    • Designate Pantone equivalent for all spot colors.
      • Gradients or transparencies may be reproduced in 4-color process.
    • Artwork should be at size & laid out containing shape indicating the final panel or sign size & placement.
    • Images must be 150 resolution DPI or higher at print size.
      • Resolution cannot be increased if working with lower resolution image to start.
    • Digitally created process images should be CYMK format.
      • Note any color change in the image when converting from RGB to CMYK and adjust colors as needed.
    • Need copies of all original supporting files used to create an image.
      • When sending Photoshop images do NOT flatten or merge layers.
    • Spot colors should be used in addition to the process image when color is critical such as company logos, text or borders. Large coverage backgrounds may also require a spot color.
    • Any non-digital artwork needs to be supplied in largest format possible for scanning and recreating.
    • All artwork with colors to edge of finished product need bleed.
      • 1” on banners
      • 1/4” on all other products
    • Artwork should not include additional printer marks aside from crop marks.
    • All files must be at size, in Windows format, and at 150 DPI.
    • Print image of file to go with work order.

Real Estate Signs: Options, Costs, & More

Aluminum real estate signs are an excellent signage option for realtors, property management companies, event companies, and more. With an aluminum panel bolted into a heavy duty angle aluminum frame, the longevity of these signs is worth the initial expense.

We offer real estate signs in two main sizes: 24” x 18” and 28” x 20”. Another size that is becoming increasingly more popular is 30” x 18”. Base pricing on these signs includes a heavy duty frame with a double-sided, full-color sign panel. The 24” x 18” signs start at $50 and the 28” x 20” signs start at $60.

Here’s a 24″ x 18″ real estate sign with dry erase laminate. Our client uses this each year to sell tickets to the Midian Shrine Circus.

When we assemble real estate sign frames, we typically use a digitally printable film and laminate or cut vinyl. Both options have a lifespan of about seven years before the print starts to fade. Cut vinyl is most often found on signs with one color text and a white background, while laminated digital prints are used when a sign is multi-color or has a colored background.

One question we frequently get when it comes to real estate signs is if the client can save money by using a coroplast blank (like garage sale signs) in the frame instead of aluminum. The answer is yes, and no. The initial cost of using a coroplast sign panel is less expensive. We UV print instead of applying vinyl or digital graphics, which saves money. However, UV prints do not last as long when used outdoors. The coroplast material itself is also not meant for long term use. This means you’ll have to replace the panel more often. Thus you might save money up front with coroplast panels, but you won’t in the long run. 

There are several specialty options available for real estate signs such as dry erase laminate or reflective material. Dry erase laminate is ideal for entities like Home Owners Associations, who can use the same sign but change out information for monthly meetings. Reflective material is becoming trendier for realtors who want to increase the visibility of their signs in the evening hours. Specialty options will add to the cost of a real estate sign, and depending on the material it can shorten the lifespan of the sign. For more information regarding real estate sign pricing or materials, contact us here or via email at sales@signsdesignwichita.com.

Shedding Light on Color

For someone unfamiliar with print industry lingo, all of the jargon related to color can be confusing. What’s CMYK? What about RGB? Why can’t you use RGB for print? And what the heck is Pantone? Like we said, it’s confusing!

Essentially there are two main divisions to color: RGB and CMYK. Pantone is an ultra-specific color guide that spans both RGB and CMYK.


RGB is an acronym for Red, Green, and Blue. This particular color profile is meant for the digital spectrum (TVs, computer monitors, etc.) since each color is a wavelength of light. All three wavelengths have 256 depths, starting at 0 and ending at 255. When combined these depths allow for 16 million color possibilities. Crazy, right?

To get a color, you simply pick the intensity for each wavelength. For example, white in RGB is written as 255, 255, 255, meaning Red depth is 255, Green depth is 255, and Blue depth is 255. On the other end of the spectrum, black is 0, 0, 0, meaning there’s a complete lack of light.

It’s important to note that even though we design our projects in CMYK, you are viewing them on an RGB based screen. Thus, the colors will always be slightly different than what your screen shows. More importantly, the colors will display differently depending on how your screen is calibrated.

RGB appears differently on a screen versus in print because it is a light based color profile.



Where RGB is a color profile based on light, CMYK is based on ink combinations. It stands for Cyan (blue), Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black). In the print world, CMYK can be referred to as full-color printing or 4-color process.

CMYK starts with a base of pure white, unlike RGB, which starts with a black base. Colors are then produced by adding different values of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Thus when you write out the combination for white in CMYK, it’s written as 0%, 0%, 0%, 0%. Meaning there is no percentage of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, or Black covering the print surface.

Just like screens all show RGB colors a bit differently, printers print CMYK colors different. At our shop, we have solvent, latex, and UV printers. All three print the same color profile differently than the other. It’s not a drastic difference, but it is different.

While RGB is an additive color profile, CMYK is subtractive. In super-sciencey terms, this means the printed color  subtracts or reduces the amount of light reflected from the print surface.


As if RGB and CMYK aren’t confusing enough, we’re going to throw in Pantone colors. Pantone is a system of standardization for colors that bridges all color profiles. Each Pantone color has a CMYK and RGB standard so that the color is the same regardless of whether it’s being printed or viewed on a screen.

Pantone’s catalog has over 1,400 colors. Pantone colors are written as PMS, followed by a color number, and then a C, U, or M. C stands for Coated, U for uncoated, and M for matte. This refers to the print surface.  

You can usually get pretty close to a PMS color when printing in CMYK, but for companies that are sticklers for exact branding, PMS colors are the way to go. Having a PMS spec ensures consistency in your branding no matter where you go or what product’s being made. It is also worth noting that requesting PMS colors often means additional surcharges on your order.

If your head is spinning trying to understand all of this information, your takeaway from this article should be—

All three color modes have their own purposes.


  • If it’s digitally printed, it’s CMYK.
  • If it’s on a screen (computer monitor, TV, phone, etc.) it’s RGB.
  • If it’s screen printed, it’s PMS.
  • PMS colors are the most specific color profiles, and useful for ensuring consistent branding.
  • Your proof on a screen will always look slightly different than the finished product because it’s in a different color profile.


Custom Christmas Gifts: A Brief Tale of Disaster, Ingenuity, and Christmas Spirit

Everyone loves to say that holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but with all the hustle and bustle it’s not uncommon for disaster to strike. Last month one of our clients, Callcap, contacted us looking for custom Christmas goodies to send to several of their major clients. With access to thousands of products here, we were happy to help.

Typically when someone reaches out to us for customized products, we create a presentation with a handful of options best fitting their needs. This is what we did for Callcap. They picked a cute mason jar filled with brownie brittle and adorned with a beautiful bow and decal, and we ordered the product.

A few days after placing our order, the vendor called with terrible news— they were out of Christmas goodies until 12/22. Thus making our pre-Christmas deadline unfeasible. Don’t get us started on how a food vendor runs out of food. We’re still not sure how that happens.

We pride ourselves on being good problem solvers, so we quickly got to work looking for alternative products. No luck. Either our vendors couldn’t meet the deadline or their costs were astronomical. It seemed the only solution would be for us to do the jars ourselves.

We’d find the jars, fill them with goodies, put decals on them, and then figure out how to tie a proper bow. But what kind of story would this be if disaster didn’t strike again? So, we ran into another dilemma. Michaels was out of stock of the plastic mason jars we wanted, and it seemed like nobody in town or online stocked them.

The search for the perfect jar didn’t take too long. Walmart offered a cute jar that allowed a ribbon to be laced through the lid. Knowing our luck at that point, we quickly purchased all the jars we needed for the project.

Since we had deviated so much from the product our client originally wanted, we felt it best to put together a sample product before creating a bulk batch of them. Normally our vendor would send us a photo sample before we approved the order. If you’re ever ordering custom products, it’s good practice to request at least a virtual proof.

Luckily Callcap was pleased with the product and we were able to move forward. Once the jars were finished, bows and all, we boxed them up individually and shipped them out to Callcap’s clients. At the end of the day, we were quite happy with the results. Check it out.

The most difficult part of this project might have been learning how to tie a proper bow. It took LOTS of practice to get it right.


Sometimes you’re just going to have a project that seems to be one disaster after another. But we firmly believe that with a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work, you can always find a solution. To browse our promotional products, click here. You can also request a quote here.


Vector vs. Raster Files

In the graphics world, there are two main file types— raster and vector. When customers come to us with their signage needs we always request vector graphics. Here’s why.

One example of a raster graphic is a photograph. Raster images are made from tons of tiny squares (pixels) that have individual color codes to create a photo. The more pixels per inch, the higher quality and resolution a photo will be.

While it’s better to have more PPI (pixels per inch), it also makes file sizes ginormous. Think about it. If you have an 8’ x 4’ banner being created at 300 PPI, that’s 1,382,400 individual pieces of information. This makes it difficult to send large files, and it takes forever to open them. Another downside to raster graphics is that once you’ve got them saved at a certain size and resolution (8’x 4’ at 300 PPI), if you try to drastically resize the graphics it will affect the image’s resolution.

On the flipside, vector images are created from sets of lines and curves. These have mathematical values so that vector art can be resized without affecting image resolution.  Vector graphics are typically fonts and logos. Because vector graphics are sets of mathematical values, their file sizes are much smaller. Thus making these files easier to send.

Using the Mac Apple Logo as an example, the middle version is a vector logo. This one is comprised of lines with nodes and uses a mathematical formula for scaling. It gives the logo a more crisp appearance. The Apple on the far right is a raster image. Since it’s comprised of square pixels, it has a rougher edge and cannot be scaled without further reducing resolution.

The major issue encountered with vector graphics is compatibility. Vector art can be saved as a PDF so that it can be opened on a computer without design software, but to edit a vector file you need programs like Adobe Illustrator.

A more frequent issue we encounter at our shop is someone resaving a raster image in a vector file format. This does not mean the file is suddenly a vector image capable of being resized without issue. Stay tuned for an upcoming post expanding on why this won’t work.

If you need to have any kind of signage made and do not have vector graphics, we staff two graphic designers that are able to re-create most graphics in vector form. There is a fee for this service, and it’s based upon the time it takes to redo the art.

As detailed in this article, raster and vector graphics have their respective uses. There are pros and cons to both file formats, but vector is usually preferred when it comes to creating signage.

Accepted File Formats

Vector: EPS, AI, PDF

Raster: JPG, PNG, TIF, PSD

Holiday Schedule 2017

It’s that time of year again! Below are the dates we’ll be closed this holiday season. Aside from these days, we’ll maintain regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm).

Thursday, Nov. 23rd & Friday, Nov. 24th

Friday, Dec. 22nd & Monday Dec. 25th

Monday, Jan. 1st

Looking for customized holiday gifts for your employees and/or clients? Give us a call at (316) 264-7446 or check out our promotional products here.

Get Lit

A few weeks ago we attended our seventh Exposure! New attendees and exhibitors often ask us if we find the experience valuable, and we always answer with a resounding “YES!” Though we don’t always come back to the office at the end of the day with a ton of new leads, we usually make several connections that end up working out in our favor later on down the road. It’s all about the long game right?

In our original pre-show blog, we mentioned that we would be giving away this amazing light up frame with a custom Wichita pride print. Take a look at the final product below—

We’d like to congratulate our winner, Jose Gonzalez. Jose is the owner of Artistic Polish and Design, a local business that specializes in decorative concrete and flooring. Their primary focus includes polished concrete, epoxy flooring, and concrete counter tops.

You too can have one of these awesome frames! We have a special running for our remaining stock at $295. This includes a full color print inside. Normally they run $420. They also come in a smaller size (16×10) for $195.

The sky is the limit for your photos, and it’s incredibly easy to change them out. You just slide out the old one and drop a new one in. These frames make popular gifts, especially for car and sports fanatics.

If you’re interested in more information regarding this product, you can contact us here. We usually respond to quote requests within 24 hours. With the holidays fast approaching, don’t forget to reach out about our custom promo products as well.

With access to thousands of fantastic products that make for great employee and/or client holiday gifts, we’ll gladly put together a presentation including several items that might interest you. If you prefer to research ideas on your own, you can access our promo product database here. Once you’ve found any options that stand out, send us an email to confirm product pricing.

Rubber Ducky, You’re The One!

Every so often we have client call in with a tall order. Quite literally in this case. Our friends over at Lifeboat Creative contacted us to ask about putting decals on 6’ tall rubber duckies that would be floating on the pond over at Bradley Fair during the Autumn & Art Festival.

We were happy to help with the project. No lie, it’s mostly because we were excited to see a 6’ rubber ducky in person! After all the details were hashed out and the install arranged, we were struck with doom and despair. On the day of our outdoor install, Mother Nature decided a rainy day was in order.

Hoping to find a dry spot where they could complete the job, our guys headed across town. Luckily the rain had subsided by the time they arrived. Once the duckies were inflated and the decals installed, we got our pictures and watched as they were released into the wild (more accurately, as they were shoved into the pond).

Another reason we enjoyed assisting with this project is because it was an out-of-the-box idea. We always strive to try and meet clients’ requests. Do you have a random idea that would make for a really interesting project? Let us know! You can contact us here or email sales@signsdesignwichita.com. We usually get back to quote requests within  24 hours.