How to Design a Sign Board


Design a sign board that takes your message from ordinary to extraordinary in just a few easy steps. It doesn't take a creative genius to convey a specific feeling, message or idea. With just a little bit of imagination in combination with typeface, graphics and basic design principles, you can convey your own personal message in a fun and informative way.

Things You'll Need

  • Sketch pad
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Printer


  • Conceptualize your sign board. Your design and layout will ultimately determine whether it will catch your reader's attention. Begin by brainstorming, paying particular attention to surrounding billboards, marketing ads, business signs and movie posters. Keep an open mind and take note of those design examples that appeal to you. For instance, notice the use of typeface, graphics, positioning, size and color. Look for ways to incorporate those techniques into your own sign board. Play around with your canvas until you get it right. Sketch it out on paper and then sketch it out again. This is a good way to determine which features work best for your particular message and which don't.

  • Get the reader's attention. The whole point of creating a sign board is to communicate a message, making it memorable in the mind of your reader. In order to do that, avoid a boring, generic design that gets your point across, technically speaking, but fails to hold the attention of the reader. The purpose of design is to stir visual interest. Generic sign boards are all too common, and though they are easy to design, they lack the imagination that it takes to actually hook your reader. Creating visual interest is all about contrast, whether it's with the use of size, color or format.

  • Use size to your advantage. One of the most important decisions to consider when designing a sign board is the size of the design itself, as well as the size of the typeface and graphics that you will be using. By simply applying a contrast in size, like making one element of your design vastly larger or smaller than another element, it can manipulate your message. For example, if you were to create a bold, over-sized headline at the top of your sign board, using a reduced type size for the tagline at the bottom, this makes the headline feel larger, therefore, giving it more of an impact.

  • Play with color. Design, by definition, is the visual choices you make to enhance the communication of a message. You don't always have to do what is expected, especially with the use of color. The color palate of your sign board is most impactful when it is used in unexpected ways, whether used minimally or to the extreme. Have fun with color. Try playing around with the color of your typeface, background, foreground and graphics. And remember that the use of black and white can also be used creatively.

  • Combine two contrasting typefaces. A good rule of thumb in graphic design is to combine two contrasting typefaces in your content, including serif vs. sans serif, italic vs. roman, expanded vs. condensed, bold lines vs. thin lines. You can also emphasize the contrast with the use of color. For example, with the headline of your sign board you may choose to use a black, bolded modern font with its vertical, condensed serif characters and then use a contrasting design for the tagline that sports a horizontal, cursive font emphasized with a warm, gold color.

Tips & Warnings

  • The most effective designs feature simplicity. Don't make the mistake of overloading your design with too much content. In graphic design, less is generally more.

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  • Photo Credit summer billboard image by Jorge Casais from
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