BACK-LIGHTED SIGN A sign consisting of a cabinet containing a light source surrounded by one or more translucent faces, which may be illuminated for visibility.
BACK-TO-BACK Two or more sign faces mounted on a common structure but facing in opposite directions; many pole signs are back-to-back or double-sided.
BAKED ENAMEL A type of metal finish. Special enamel paint is sprayed or screen-printed on the metal surface, dried, and then cured. The result is an extremely durable surface similar to that found on many appliances.
BALANCE In design, the relationship between the design elements such that opposing forces have equal distribution of weight in the layout. The overall quality of a design that makes it feels right.
BALLAST A device that operates as part of a fluorescent lamp and is designed primarily to provide sufficient starting voltage. The ballast may also heat the lamp electrodes and, once the tube is in operation, limit the amount of electrical energy going through the lamp.
BALLPOINT BRAILLE Small beads that are inserted into sign faces to accommodate Braille information, as required by the A.D.A. These beads can be clear, plastic or metal depending on the material into which they are inserted. See also Braille bullets / beads.
BANDING In a color gradation, visibly distinct differences, or sequential patterns between color levels, instead of a smooth transition of colors or other effects. Banding can take place in continuous-tone images on a display using less than 24-bit information, or when printing gradients without sufficient color information. Can also apply to an imperfect airbrushed or painted gradation.
BANNER A sign made of fabric, plastic, or other nonrigid material which has no enclosing framework. It may be painted, screen-printed, digitally printed, or decorated with vinyl. See also flag.
BASE 1. The trim beneath the bottom molding of a sign or bulletin. 2. The foundation or support of freestanding sign. See also footing. 3. The first or background color(s) in screen-printing.
BILLBOARD A large outdoor board used for posting advertising. The name comes from the traditional practice of posting bills, or prepainted messages. In the 19th century, it became common for businesses to lease separate board space for their bills, hence the name billboard.
BINDER A substance that binds two other substances together. For instance, lacquer is used as a binder when painting with some metallic dusts. Many paints require binders.
BITMAPPED Describing when arranged pixels comprising a graphic or an image become visible/detectible by the human eye. When incompatible image file formats are imported, often the graphic will appear bitmapped with squared-off pixels resulting in jagged edge effect on perimeter of line art or loss of resolution on images.
BLADE SIGN A type of projecting sign mounted on a building facade or storefront pole or attached to a surface perpendicular to the sign's surface and to the normal flow of traffic.
BLANK An undecorated face with no cabinet. Also called insert.
BLEED In screen-printing, bleed refers to the portion of an image that extends beyond the area of the finished print. When the print is cut or die-cut, the bleed is cut away. Bleed is also used to describe the area where one color overprints or traps another for purposes of registration. See also trapping.
BLIND FASTENERS Mechanical attachment devices hidden from view that facilitate the attachment of signs, lettering or sculptured pieces to other surfaces. Can be vandal-resistant, tamperproof, removable, or permanent. Also called concealed fasteners.
BLISTERING The end result of poor adhesion by either paint or vinyl to a substrate, leaving the surface covered with bumps of various sizes and indeterminate shapes similar to blisters on the human skin.
BLOCK COLORS Colors that are printed without gradations, tints, or shades, that is, in "poster style."
BLOCKOUT 1. An opaque paint used in the production of neon signs to block out the crossover connections between letters. Special paints have been formulated for this purpose that offer a high degree of adherence to glass, as well as resistance to weather, heat, light, high voltages, and corona discharge. Paints with metallic bases should be avoided because of their ability to conduct electricity. 2. A type of liquid mask used to seal accidental holes in a stencil in areas not intended to be screen-printed.
BOLLARD A thick low post, or series of posts that help define or border a pedestrian or other public area.
BOMA Building Owners and Managers Association.
BONDERIZING A process where sheet metal is zinc-coated and then treated to allow paint to adhere. Used in created baked enamel signs.
BORDER Most commonly a line or repetitive design used to emphasize or set apart all or portions of a sign's art. In electric signs, illuminated tubes and arrows or decorative molding may also serve as borders.
BOUNDING BOX The area of an on-screen image at its maximum x- and y-axis measurements. Altering the bounding box by moving its control points can change the shape or size of an image. Bounding boxes allow scaling of all graphics images in PostScript file types.
BRAILLE Raised bumps or dots set in established patterns to communicate letters and words to the visually impaired. Grade 2 Braille is required by A.D.A., due to its more widespread use in the visually impaired community. System created by Louis Braille (1809–52) by modifying the Barbier "point writing" system used for coded army messages.
BRAILLE BULLETS / BEADS See ballpoint braille.
BREAK-AWAY FOUNDATION A pole and foundation system where the pole detaches cleanly from the foundation upon impact. Required by many state highway authorities.
BROADSIDE A large advertising poster.
BRONZE An alloy of copper and tin with traces of other metals (zinc, nickel, and lead), used for sculpture, sign plaques, and dimensional lettering. Letters or forms can be cut out of solid material (using a band saw or a waterjet). It can be cast (sand-cast, ceramic mold-cast). It can be fabricated from thin sheets to create dimensional letters (fabricated and soldered). Bronze signs may be lacquered to prevent oxidation, pre-oxidized, or left to oxidize naturally. Many finishes are available; patinaed, oil-rubbed, clear-lacquered, polished, brushed, etc.
BRUSHED FINISH A nonreflective, textured finish mechanically or chemically applied to metal for decorative purposes. Grained effect is usually created using sandpaper. Long grain finish applied by hand or via belt sander. Short grain finish applied by using a drum sander.
BULLETIN Outdoor advertising method in which the client's message is either painted directly on a large steel or plywood board or preprinted and then posted. Common bulletin sizes are 10'6" x 36' and 14' x 48'. Also known as a billboard.
BULLETIN COLORS Specially prepared enamel paints preferred by many sign painters for handlettering. Bulletin colors are formulated to cover well, dry quickly, and resist fading.
BURNING-IN This process is recommended to bring a neon tube to its proper brilliance. It is done by connecting the completed tube to a transformer similar to that which will be used in the installation, and allowing it to remain lighted until proper brightness, color, and electrical properties are achieved. Also called aging.
BURNISH To polish by rubbing. For instance, after gold leaf is applied to a substrate, it is burnished with a cotton cloth to bring up the shine and reveal any holes where the leaf will have to be applied a second time.