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Vehicles + Vinyl

Airbrushing Special Effects on Vinyl

Color your vinyl world



An advertiser’s challenge is to develop a catchy slogan that will get consumers’ attention, make them remember the ad and, in turn, purchase the product. Sign-makers do the same thing: The signs must attract viewers’ attention, convey a message and encourage viewers to act upon that message. But how does a sign capture the viewers’ attention long enough to make an impression so that it can convey the message?

Typically, it’s the lettering that accomplishes these tasks. The problem is that so many signs (and their lettering) look similar. As a sign-maker, how do you distinguish the signs you create from the pack — particularly when you and your competitors are both using similar hardware, software and materials?

One way to distinguish your signage is by not using plain-colored vinyl letters for your sign’s primary copy. Instead, give your letters pizzazz. Spice them up with attention-grabbing colors.

There are multiple ways to do this. Certainly, you can create lettering using manufacturer-produced multicolored/special-effects vinyl rolls. However, you may want to achieve an effect for which the right kind of vinyl is not available (ie, you need blue-marble vinyl, and you can only find green or white marble). Also, it’s expensive to purchase and store rolls of special-effects vinyl when you don’t use them regularly.

A more cost-effective alternative is to airbrush paint on vinyl. As you may or may not know, any of the myriad paint effects that can be achieved on other substrates — marbling, splattering, bagging, shading, inlines, etc. — can be replicated on vinyl. In step-by-step format, this article focuses on how to create a very popular lettering effect, chrome.

Project preparation

I started this project by creating a letter style that would complement painted, faux chrome. Obviously, I didn’t want to use an elegant font — one with flourishes and scrolls. I instead chose a font with bold, thick, letter strokes to showcase the chrome.

I used SignLab — an easy-to-use, full-function, sign-design software — to customize the lettering, stretch out the characters a bit, and slant them 30



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