Sign writing letter styles come in many forms but are generally those that are the easiest more natural to produce with a brush. This means that the letter style looks less like a computer generated font.
The clients had moved premises the building they had moved to was in need of a facelift. The paint was peeling in the blue framed entrance plaques, but also the main sign was an awful plastic panel, not even cut to the same shape and was just mounted onto the masonry.
Its lettering being very much a computer type face with bad spacing between the letters. They requested that the sign be removed and replaced with traditional sign writing letter styles instead of the ugly cheap looking existing panel.
Several visuals and designs were produced for the clients to choose between. They especially liked the writing in gold it being in sign writer letter styles rather than standard fonts such as helvetica, times new roman and ariel etc.
They originally wished for the masonry frames to be in gold leaf like the writing but they realised this was an expense not really required. They chose to have a fine outline in gold paint instead.
With gold paint not being a matching colour to gold leaf, due to gold leaf being genuine 23ct gold and paint being a mix of oils and glitter with pigments, a sample panel was produced so they could see they colour difference.
As can be seen the gold leaf shines brightly as you would expect from real gold, but the gold paint looks much duller and even has a hint of green in some lights.
The address numbers were designed to fit within the 2 frames either side of the main building name frame. To make this fit the area nicely sign writer letter styles were chosen. A fine Trajan Roman, which is the classy looking style seen typically on historical properties in London.
This is due to it being well drawn out and painted by signwriters generation after generation. Adding the No. as well as the A filled the space nicely once drawn using sign writer experience in spacing each digit.
The designs were reliefed onto each of the framed panels. Then the lettering was hand painted with a specialist brush using a paint and size mix which the gold sheets are then pressed onto.
The chalk is visable for the sign writer to see but not very visable from the ground. A matching fine Trajan Roman was used for the main wording but using sign writer letter styles to incorporate some flourishes and to make the sign have a stylish but authentic style you only get from a sign writer producing the work.
With the lettering all brush painted the sheets of gold leaf are applied. This needs to be done quite qickly when there are a quite a few letters, as the tack is important. There has to be some tack but not a wet high tack.
With all the gold leaf applied to the main wording the next job was painting the address numerals in the other two framed panels.
Precision painting is important & having nice sharp lettering with well shaped serifs make all the difference, especially when the spacing is thought out too. Just as these panels were drying, with a little tack left to the lettering, the gold leaf is again applied.
The next stage is painting in all the pre taped borders around each masonry frame. The clients originally wanted a thick gold border, with perhaps all the inward facing frame painted, but the project manager decided it was too thick & overpowering, so just the finest outline was painted in. In the above pic the gold frame has been painted & the tape has been removed. I personnly wonder if the next staggered part of the frame should’ve been painted too just to make the gold on the frame more noticable, but the subtle took is better than the obvious, so maybe it was more err on the side of caution with it.
With the real gold zinging in the light, it does make the gold painted border seem quite dim, but this was what was suggested when showing the mock up example. Ultimately the border isn’t imporatnt, its the lettering that needs to stand out & that is certainly the case.
The clients were so impressed they use the signwriting on their website home page.
Hand Painted Traditional & Contemporary Sign writing in London
Sign writer: Traditional Signs of London