Author Archives: Mike Jackson

Mike and Darla Jackson operate Golden Era Studios in Jackson, Wyoming, and do a variety of sign-related projects. Mike’s website is His email address is You can see more of Mike’s photos at and

Avoid these 10 common sign layout pitfalls

Designers and sign makers who have been in the business long enough can easily recognize work done by newcomers. Why? Either the newbies… Read More

Step-by-step: Complex sign with a tight deadline

This project contains a mixture of basic skills and tools, along with a little help from another sign company and some of today’s… Read More

What’s it cost to make this 24-sq.-ft. sign?

Materials (excluding markup) 4-by-8-ft-by-3⁄4-in. overlaid plywood: $80 Five foam roller covers: $5 Edge sealer: $2 Latex paint for back: $8 Block-out primer: $15… Read More

Video: Using Photoshop to level and crop your sign photos

You want great-looking photos of your great-looking signs on your website, social media and online portfolio, right? In this quick video, Mike Jackson… Read More

The magic of three-tier pricing

Over three decades ago, Mike Jackson wrote an article, “Price your work on three levels for easier sales”, for SignCraft. Those two pages… Read More

Add value or plan to sell on price alone

“Value is determined not by what you pay for something, but by what you get for what you pay.” Darn, that’s a great… Read More

Video: Straighten images with Photoshop’s Perspective Crop tool

Ever get an angled photo from a client that you want to add your proposed drawing of their sign to? Or want to… Read More

Working with glyphs and special characters in Photoshop

In this first video feature on, Mike Jackson takes you step-by-step through the process of using Photoshop functions that let you use… Read More

Put Photoshop’s scrubby sliders to work

There is seldom a day I use Photoshop that I don’t take advantage of the many “Scrubby sliders” scattered throughout the program. They… Read More

Get the letter spacing right

Computer fonts are typically designed with a generous number of “kerning pairs”. Kerning refers to the spacing between any two letters in a… Read More

Essential tools: Pounce wheels and perforated patterns

For decades, sign makers used a simple tool called a pounce wheel to make perforated patterns. Those patterns were used to help with… Read More

Using Layer Effects and Layer Styles in Photoshop

Layer Effects are always at your fingertips. They are some of Photoshop’s most powerful, fun and creative tools. Layer Effects are easy to… Read More

Windows 7 to Windows 10: Upgrade or buy a new computer?

Last fall, Windows sent an email and added alerts letting users know they would cease support for Windows 7 in mid-January. Ouch! If… Read More

Step up your photo game!

After all of the effort it takes to design, sell, fabricate and install a “sign masterpiece”, you would think most sign shops would… Read More

Metal prints are a great way to show what you can do

Want to add some high-tech sparkle to your showroom? Show off your best work with state-of-the-art metal prints! Glossy metal prints are extremely… Read More

Today’s tools for learning

When you’re learning to hand letter, there’s not much of a replacement for watching a skilled craftsperson lay down perfect strokes with a… Read More

Adding a large format printer? Ramp up your Photoshop skills

Considering purchasing a large format printer? There are a lot of manufacturers and models to choose from. You’ll surely make an informed decision…. Read More

Using swatches, patterns and tiles in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

Do you ever wish to add a texture or pattern to letters or graphics? Maybe you’ve never really needed them, but with a… Read More

Tips for working with type in Illustrator and Photoshop

Over the years, with each upgrade, Adobe “sneaks in” some pretty cool features into their premier pair of design programs: Illustrator and Photoshop…. Read More

The magic of three-tier pricing

Mike’s approach has helped sign people boost profits for over three decades Thirty-two years ago, Mike Jackson wrote an article, “Price your work… Read More