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  • what way to shade left or right?

    Posted by brian the brush on September 27, 2002 at 5:13 pm

    I find it strange that as a traditional signwriter I find it easier to paint a right hand shade to a letter, yet when I look at lots of layout that have been designed on a computer there seems to always be a left hand shade to the letter ? Is there a reason for this or is it just the designers preference ?

    eddie cotter replied 21 years, 10 months ago 10 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • Tim Shaw

    September 27, 2002 at 5:44 pm

    An old gypsy signwriter ( a signwriter who moves on every few years) now sadly deceased, a master of pictorials, once told me that the left/right shade is a north/south divide thing.

    Apparantly southern signpainters put the shade to the left and nothern sign writers to the right.

    This may be a lot of ( oh dear i swore)!!!. He was a p**s taking old bugger.

    Obviously it will be easier for a right handed painter to paint a shade to the right espicially if he is in a hurry and doing an off shade wet next to wet.

    I am sure someone will know if there is a proper reason, but if you look at signs on TV it does occur like this more often than not.

    Doing a shade on the computer I guess is totally pesronal preference.


    September 27, 2002 at 5:50 pm


  • Tim Shaw

    September 27, 2002 at 6:01 pm

    Yes but lower right look just as right too!!!!!!!

  • Mike Brown

    September 28, 2002 at 7:44 am

    on reflection I use lower right most of the time…and I’m a suvernur! 😉

  • Robert Lambie

    September 28, 2002 at 8:19 am

    im way up here in bonny scotland and i drop my shadows to the lower left. 🙄

  • Pete Witney

    September 28, 2002 at 9:04 am

    As a southerner up north I’ just confused.But I trained as a Technical Illustrator originally and it is general practice to assume that the sun is coming from the left hand side of the draughtsman and its kind of stuck ,most of the time.But being right handed I would probably put a high-light on the right hand side as well???Not at the same time obviously

  • Phill Fenton

    September 28, 2002 at 11:45 am

    I prefer to dress to the right 😉

  • jsco59

    September 28, 2002 at 1:08 pm

    In the book Ralph Gregory’s Sign Painting Techniques he suggests that “shading to the left and bottom gives maximum impact to display that is viewed from the right” and that “shading to the right and bottom gives maximum impact to display that is viewed from the left”.

    He also mentions that proper and consistent angles should be used in any shadowing and that poor choice of color for the shadow is generally the downfall of a shadowed letter.

    Shading should never predominate the lettering.

  • Bob Gilliland

    September 28, 2002 at 4:14 pm

    There was a very interesting thread from earlier this year over in Letterville. Robert, hope you don’t mind the link but would like to provide an easy method for everyone to see some additional thoughts on the subject. For those that don’t follow the link, here was my first response in that particular thread.

    shadow placement thread from Letterville.

    I’m with Dan’s thought process on this one; down and to the right. Born and raised here in the states I read left to right, top to bottom. I want the person reading the copy to digest it this way as well, hence shadows, a complimentary component, go to the bottom and to the right.

    However, IMHO, it is all relative to the light source. Put a light at the 5 o’clock position on right slanted text and I doubt very much that the shadow will be on the right side of the copy. 😉 I’d be curious to hear what is being taught on this subject in college?!

    For an additional thought; shouldn’t shadows take on the color of the media that the shadow is being cast upon? Why do I see solid Black shadows cast upon Yellow backgrounds? Or even White backgrounds?

  • Phill Fenton

    September 28, 2002 at 5:11 pm

    I agree Bob. When using shadows I normally put grey shadowing on white background, Dark red shadows on red backgrounds etc. (in other words same colour as the substrate but darker) this makes the effect look more natural and means the shadow is subtle – not dominating and detracting from the design. I think this is one aspect that Jef was hinting at earlier. 😀

  • Martin Pearson

    September 28, 2002 at 10:23 pm

    The default settings for shadow is lower left, it might just be that when people go to apply shadow the default setting looks about right so they just use it. Only a personal opinion.

    We have a customer who does a lot of his own design work, he has a habbit of putting the shadow top right, we have tried to alter it but he always picks it up on the visuals and wont have it any other way.

  • Tim Shaw

    September 28, 2002 at 11:54 pm

    I agree with the thought on an shadow which give the effect of the letter been raised off the panel (drop shadow or cast ?), in which case i try to use a dark shade of the ground colour.

    But what colour should be used when the letter is meant to have a 3d look (cast or drop ?),
    The returns of the letter could therefore be any colour you like.

  • eddie cotter

    September 29, 2002 at 9:31 pm

    i usualy droping em to the bottom left, its just a habbit i supose 🙂

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