GLOSSARY P - S
PAINT FINISH: In descending order of reflectance: gloss, semigloss, 20 percent gloss (preferred by the A.D.A.), eggshell, and matte ("dead flat finish").
PANEL: A section of artwork based on the production area of a device, such as a plotter or printer. If the artwork size exceeds the production area, different panels are set up by the sign software, and can be produced by selecting individual panels. See also tiling.
P.M.S. (PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM): Standardized series of thousands of colors, each with specific color formulations as identification number. PMS colors are duplicated in swatch books and in computer-graphics programs to allow exact duplication of colors in color printing and other marking or painting processes, such as signmaking.
PATINA: A finish applied (or achieved by age) to metal surfaces (especially copper, brasses, and bronze). May include statuary bronze (classic brown color), verdigris (green-gray), and various other colorized finishes.
PATTERN: A full-sized layout of a design. May refer to the design into which neon tubes will be bent, the configuration of vertical sides of channel letters to be constructed, or for painting. See also pounce pattern.
PENNANT: A piece of plastic or cloth, pointed at the bottom and suspended by its top. Often undecorated, it is a temporary attention-getting device.
PERMIT: A license granted by the appropriate authorities to allow a sign to be erected.
PHOTO SIMULATION: Typically a digital photo illustration showing a proposed concept. It is used to show new graphic elements in context. Two-dimensional or three-dimensional drawn objects are placed into a photoshop document of the existing situation. A type of digital rendering. See also rendering.
PIGMENT: A compound used to color other materials, such as paints and inks. Pigments are insoluble (unlike dyes), finely ground particles and may be organic or inorganic.
PLASTIC: A generic term for a wide range of synthetic materials which consist of a long chains of polymers that are moldable and soften when heated. Many plastics used in the sign industry are of the thermoplastic variety, which means they can melt and solidify repeatedly.
PLEXIGLAS: The trade name for a brand of acrylic sheeting, which (like Kleenex) is often mistakenly used as a generic term.
PLOT PLAN: A drawing or sketch showing the layout looking down on the site on which a sign is to be erected. A plot plan will commonly show such things as the sign's relationship to buildings, parking, pedestrian ways, etc. It is sometimes required to obtain a permit.
PLOTTER: A computer-controlled printer or cutter.
POINT-OF-PURCHASE SIGNS/ADVERTISING: In-store advertising designed to stimulate impulse purchases by shoppers inside a store. The term applies to a store's internal sign system, as well as special displays and dispensers created by and for specific product manufacturers. Also known as "point-of-sale advertising."
POLYCARBONATE: A specific thermosetting resin characterized by its durability, flexibility, machinery, and endurance under UV exposure. Lexan is a polycarbonate. See also acrylic.
POLYURETHANE: A type of hard thermoset plastic foam used in sign production. It has the density and characteristics of wood, but only one-third of the weight. It can be used for carving and sandblasting signs much like wood.
P.V.C. (POLYVINYL CHLORIDE): A specific thermoset plastic which is weather and chemical resistant, available extruded into many forms or cast as sheets in a variety of colors and thicknesses . (It is also used for drainage and plumbing piping).
PORTABLE SIGN: A freestanding, on-premise sign, not designed to be permanently affixed in place.
POSITIVE SPACE: The copy and art on a sign face. The opposite of negative space.
POST AND PANEL SIGN: A sign panel with one or more posts.
POUNCE PATTERN: A full-sized pattern of any design to be painted. Once the pattern is created, the outline is perforated using a manual or computer-driven perforation wheel. The pattern is then held firmly against the substrate and the perforations patted with powder, charcoal, or colored chalk dust, leaving an outline of the design. This ancient technique was used by Michaelangelo to transfer images to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and is still in use today.
POWDER COATING: A specific process for applying paint to a surface that creates a very durable protective surface.
PRESSURE-SENSITIVE: An adhesive that reacts when pressure is applied to the surface it is between. Sometimes used to refer to vinyl with a pressure-sensitive adhesive.
PRIMARY COLORS: The three colors from which all other colors can be created. In paint pigments, the primary colors are yellow, red, and blue. In four-color process printing, all colors are mixed from yellow, magenta (red), and cyan (blue). In light, the primary colors are red, green, and blue. See also RGB display, additive colors.
PRIME: To coat a substrate prior to the application of paint or adhesive. A primer coat prevents subsequent coats of paint or adhesive from being absorbed. The process is intended to improve the performance and life of the product.
PROCESS COLOR: The three primary colors of printing—yellow, magenta, and cyan—plus black. When printed as halftones in that order, they create a full range of natural colors. Also called four-color process.
PROTOTYPE: Usually a full-sized sample that uses final materials, methods of construction, fasteners, and finishes to test assembly, design, construction, and appearance issues. Also used approve the "first sample" in a long production run.
QUARTER ROUND: Wood or metal molding and trim which in profile is the equivalent of a quarter circle.
QUEUE: An electronic holding area, usually in random access memory (RAM) or on a hard drive, where data is pooled and waits before being released sequentially for output.
READABILITY: The quality of a sign's overall design that allows the viewer to correctly interpret the information presented on it. Also, the optimum time and distance in which this can be done. Letter size and style, legibility of typeface, color contrast between letters and background, and a sign's layout all contribute to readability.
REFLECTIVE SHEETING: Film with very small glass or glasslike bead materials encapsulated below its surface, creating the ability to bounce light beams back to their source, such as from a car headlight back to the driver. The amount of light reflected, along with the angle of vision for which the reflective property is effective, is rated in different grades, such as promotional, engineer, and highway.
REFLECTORIZED SIGN: A sign that has been coated with a highly reflective material. See also reflective sheeting.
REGISTRATION: 1. In screen-printing, the correct placement of the image to be printed on the substrate. 2. In multicolor printing, registration also refers to the correct alignment of the colors with one another.
RENDERING: An artistic sketch or representation of a design concept.
RESIN TRANSFER: A method of heating a colored resin material and printing it onto vinyl. The resin is sublimed, or momentarily turned into a gas without passing through a liquid state. The gas seeps into the vinyl and then resolidifies, creating a permanent image.
RESOLUTION: 1. In digital images, the number of pixels shown on a screen; the higher the number of pixels in a given space, (i.e., the greater the density of pixels), the more precise the pictured image. 2. In plotting, the degree of accuracy with which a plotter will place a knife-head in relation to a theoretical, perfect location of a coordinate.
RETARDER / RETARDANT: An additive that slows the drying time of ink.
REVERSE CHANNEL LETTER: A channel letter that has a face and sides but no back, and is pinned out from a background surface. When the neon tube inside the letter is illuminated, it produces a halo effect around the letter.
REVOLVING SIGN: A sign that has the ability to turn 360 degrees because of the presence of an electric motor to drive its movable parts. All or a portion of the sign may revolve at a steady or variable speed.
ROOF SIGN: A sign structure that is erected on or above a roof, or that is installed directly on a roof's surface.
ROUTING: Elimination of material in a substrate, using a tool bit that has been machined for this purpose. In computerized signmaking, using a CAD/CAM machine, a tool is programmed to eliminate material along a tool path created along x-, y-, and z-axes.
SANDBLASTING: A method for decorating glass or wood. A rubberized stencil of the artwork is either hand- or computer-cut and applied to the substrate, which is then sprayed with a pressurized stream of sand or synthetic particles to texture the unprotected area. Once the desired depth has been achieved on the item being blasted, the stencil is removed, and if on wood, the surfaces may be painted.
SANS SERIF: Any typeface that lacks serifs. In most sans serif fonts, there is little differentiation between the width of strokes within the letter. Helvetica and Futura are familiar sans serif fonts.
SCANNER: An optical device that senses different levels of reflection of light and translates that information into numeric formulas that can be read by a computer and replicated on a screen or printed.
SCREEN-PRINTING: A stencil method of applying paint or ink to surfaces such as wood, paper, glass, metal, through a resist applied to fabric stretched over a frame. Can utilize a photographic process to create/control the resist for more precise imaging. The artwork is also cut into rubylith resist on computer-driven plotters or tables. See also silkscreening.
SEAM: A line formed by the joining together of two separate pieces of the same or different materials at their edges, as with flexible-face fabric material or wood, metal, or plastic sheet. Also called butt joint.
SERIF: A small line or embellishment finishing off the strokes of letters in some fonts (like this one). Well-known serif fonts include Souvenir, Times Roman, and Garamond.
SHADE: A color made darker than the original by adding black to it.
SHADOW: Duplication of an image that is slightly offset. Drop shadow is a simple copy and offset; block shadow joins the outlines of the original and duplicate to create a 3D-relief effect; and cast shadow alters the shape and size of the duplicate to imitate shadows cast from varied placement of light, as the sun does on a sun dial.
SIGN: Any device, structure, display, or placard which is affixed to, placed on or in proximity to, or displayed from within a building to attract the attention of the public for the purposes of advertising, identifying, or communicating information about goods and services.
SIGN CABINET: The enclosure of an electric sign, not including the components and mounting structure.
SIGN CAN: An informal term for sign cabinet.
SIGN CODE: A sign code may be part of a government body's land use planning regulations, or it may be a separate document designed to interact with other land use codes. As part of the police powers granted to local governments, a sign code normally seeks to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Sign codes may regulate size, placement, illumination, structure and aesthetics of sign content and design.
SIGN FACE: The front surface of the sign (in elevation), where the graphics are placed. Also called face.
SIGN TYPE: Defines the style or use of each unique sign component in a system. Sign types are individually determined in each sign project. A sampling of sign type descriptions: building identification, directory, freestanding, monument, pedestrian directional, pedestrian informational, post and panel, regulatory, vehicular directional, vehicular informational, etc.
SIGNAGE: Interchangeable terms used to describe signs. Any group of posted commands, warnings, information, or directions.
SIGN-FOAM®: A brand of specialized polymer foam cell products designed for three-dimensional signage applications, available in different densities and strengths. This open cell foam machines easily and holds shape well. When primed and painted, it can look like other more permanent materials.
SILHOUETTE: The overall shape or profile of a sign, or a block of copy within a sign.
SILICONE: 1. Trade name for a popular adhesive used in installation of letters and signs because of its elasticity, strength, reasonable curing time, and its impermeable nature. 2. Any of a group of polymers characterized by wide-range thermal stability, high lubricity, extreme water repellence, and physiological inertness, used in adhesives, lubricants, protective coatings, paints, electrical insulation, and synthetic rubber.
SILKSCREENING: One of the oldest and simplest forms of printing. A print is made using a squeegee to force ink through stencil or emulsion that is supported by fabric that has been stretched over a frame to create a screen. Several synthetic fabrics have replaced silk as the fabric of choice for screen printers. See also screen printing.
SIZING / SIZE: The substance applied to the substrate before gilding in order to make the gold leaf stick to the work surface, and its application. Today, the most common sizing used by glass gilders is made of gelatin capsules dissolved in boiling water and then strained.
SOLVENT: A petroleum-based liquid used to modify oil-based pains and inks and to remove them from sign components, frames, and brushes.
SPACER: Any device used in mounting letters or signs that separates them from the surface to which they are being installed. A spacer allows letters to be pinned out.
SPECIFICATIONS: May include General Requirements, Products, and Execution sections for sign specification package. Similar to architectural construction format per CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) standards.
SPOTLIGHT: A source of illumination for an externally illuminated sign; a lamp with a strong focused beam directed toward a sign.
SQUEEGEE: 1. In screen-printing, a flexible blade mounted in a wood or metal handle and used to force ink through a stencil mounted on the screen. 2. In signmaking, a hard plastic or nylon blade used to apply pressure to increase surface adhesion between cutting vinyl and the transfer tape or between the vinyl and sign face.
STENCIL: A thin sheet of material into which a design is cut. When a stencil is place on another substrate and paint or ink is applied, the image represented by the cut-out portion of the stencil is printed on the substrate below it. Stencils range from metal to card stock to photo emulsions.
SUBSTRATE: The material out of which the face is made. Wood, metal sheeting, paper, and acrylic are some examples of sign substrates.
SYMMETRY: The balance of design elements in which one side equals or mirrors the other.