ImageFirst News

When it’s dark enough – we see the stars!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Graphic designers certainly are worth their weight in gold, but they can also inadvertently limit the effectiveness of your client’s channel letter set.

As a signage consultant & retailer, it pays to watch out for some of the potential trouble spots in your client’s design. Color choice is a good example, particularly when it comes to illuminated sign areas and frequently a designer’s creativity can lead to a diminished performance for your client’s sign.

Dark Face Colors

For example, suppose your client’s channel letter sign configuration calls for full-cover dark blue vinyl on the faces. What should you tell your client about the potential night visibility performance of that color?

Certain colors have better night visibility than others—even with properly installed letter illumination. Which translucent vinyl colors may not have vibrant night visibility? Dark Blue, burgundy, black, purple, gray, and dark greens allow less than 1% actual light transmission.

If your client receives a channel letter set with a full vinyl face cover from the list above, they may mistakenly think insufficient illumination (LED modules) was installed. But additional LED modules would not solve the problem. The problem lies with the vinyl face color and the amount of light absorbed by that color—not with the LED.

Reveal Vinyl Configuration

Your client may insist on keeping the darker vinyl color (possibly because of a branding color requirement).

A reveal configuration places a vinyl layer slightly smaller than the letter faces onto the acrylic leaving a small light channel at the edge (1/8” to ¼”). This layout (darker vinyl over white acrylic) generates a highly visible letter set while retaining the darker face color your client requested.

Perforated Vinyl

Perforated vinyl is another potential night visibility solution when your client insists on retaining a dark face color. This product can provide a dark letter face appearance by day and a lighter color at night.

The unique surface permits a sufficient amount of emitted light to effectively change the illuminated letter’s face color. This field of light created in front of the letter faces projects the illusion of a differing color at night—and may solve the potential night visibility problem from darker vinyl colors.

Perforated vinyl colors can also be configured to match almost any color scheme your client requests. The digital print option offers almost any color shade your client may specify—including the darker colors mentioned above. Although the most common perforated vinyl configuration is black perforated over white face acrylic, additional color combinations are extensive. For example, if the client would like a white letter daytime appearance and red at night, then white perforated vinyl could be placed over red acrylic.

Face Illumination Options

So if your client presents you with a channel letter design that includes a full-cover dark vinyl color on the letter faces, let them know in advance that can impact the level of night visibility.

Ask them to consider using a partial covering of the face (reveal configuration), perforated vinyl, or simply a lighter vinyl color. Your client’s ultimate satisfaction is at stake and they will appreciate the consultancy!

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