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Theories on modelling signs
 Moderated by: W C Greene
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 Posted: Fri Mar 27th, 2015 07:26 pm
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Lee B
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I was looking through some photos of model structures online and started looking at the signs. Like most model RR signs, they just didn’t look… right to me somehow.
I just realized what it was. There are four issues I have with layout ‘business’ signs:
Hardly any real commercial signs get used. You’re not having to worry about copyright infringement. If it’s a scale representation of reality, where are all the smaller commercial signs you’d see tacked onto retail stores? Yeah, many people use old Coke signs, but most of the time, the signs are awfully generic.
They’re massive. Model RR signs on structures are almost always way larger than real ones would be if you scaled a real building down. You don’t have to read the sign from a mile away in most cases unless it’s in a big city. A country store simply wouldn’t have a 5X40-foot sign across the front. But most do on layouts.
They use typefaces that weren’t popular back in the day. I see a great deal of signs done in sans-serif typefaces. Helvetica is a popular one I see. But the problem is, those weren’t used in signs back then except maybe road signs. Besides, Helvetica didn’t even exist as a typeface at until the end of the 50s, as did most sans-serif typefaces. If you're making your signs online, there are plenty of places you can get free downloads of typefaces that existed back in the day. Always go back a good 10 years from when the sign was intended to have bene painted, as many sign painters back then had seriously outdated typeface books. I have one from the late 40s and there's nothing later than the mid 30s in it.
They don’t look hand painted. You probably won’t hand-paint a scale sign yourself, but real signs back in the day were done by hand. At the very least, weather the letters down to show the wear of house-paint streaking over time. So many layout signs look like dry-transfer letters, which they are. If that’s all you had, at least make it look like someone broke out some paint cans to get it onto the building.



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 Posted: Sat Mar 28th, 2015 10:08 am
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Tramcar Trev
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I etch a lot of my signage, also I take care to try and get a close approximation of the typeface when copying originals.Yeah your right a lot of the commercial signs just dont look right...



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 Posted: Sat Mar 28th, 2015 10:55 am
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Herb Kephart
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Lee

I'm with you 100% on this.

I'm not good enough with a pooter to make a sign from a typeface (do I hear ''it's easy''?)  Well it isn't for me.

Besides, Gromit's cigar smoke burns my eyes when I try.

The kind of faults on model signs that you point out stand out glaringly to me.

Herb



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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2015 01:34 pm
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George W
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Even as a novice train guy, I can agree that sometimes bad signage (much like bad weeds) really kill the look of an other wise nice layout



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 Posted: Thu Dec 1st, 2016 05:43 pm
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Larry G
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I realize this is a old thread but I feel the need to add something that is my pet peeve.

Having been in the outdoor advertizing game for many years I know how important location is for sign placement. A sign facing a railroad freight yard would have such a small audience that it would not sell much product. Selling a product or service is the reason for most all commercial outdoor signs. Far to many layouts have expensive signs located in back alleys and other out of the way locations.

As in real estate, it's all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.

Road signs are fairly standard in design and placement, depending on era being modeled.

Larry Gant

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 Posted: Thu Dec 1st, 2016 10:50 pm
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Lee B
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Very good point, Larry!
I have next to no signs on my layout. A country store has a relatively small (and obviously scale hand-painted) sign on faded boards on the overhead, and that's it.
A two-story wood structure with a loading dock alongside the layout has a sign right next to the door saying what it is. You couldn't possibly read it from the fascia, as it's a scale size and about 2-feet away. It's probably about a 2X3 foot sign, immediately adjacent to a door, and nothing else. Most others would have put the name of the business all down the side, and facing the tracks (an the building is obviously facing away from any road from where you see it on the layout.

There's another sign with the hours and a third with the types of men they're accepting job applications from (due to the WW2 draft). That's it.



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https://www.flickr.com/photos/53587910@N05/sets/72157668176638961
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