When requesting a custom design, we talk about silhouettes and cutouts (also named knockouts).
To define them for design purposes, a silhouette is the piece of metal shaped like the silhouette.
Acut out, or knock out, is the silhouetted shape being cut out of the metal, with the remaining hole being the shape of the design.
A simple example is below. In each case, the black portion represents the metal. The white areas are the holes that are left.
|Silhouette||Knock out/ Cut out|
There are times when one is preferred over another, and that may depend on the background of the piece. If it is sitting on a plain colored wall, or whether it's hanging in the air with a busy background of trees, for example.
On a white wall, the silhouette letters, top left, stand out more. But on a busy background, they might get lost & blend in too much & you may prefer a knock out design (bottom left).
|On a busy wall or free-standing piece, the background can be blanked out by adding a plain colored backing.
On this garage sign, a yellow backer blocks out the background so the knockout sections still pop.
One issue with knockouts is the "stranded pieces". Take a look at some of the letters in Stafford, above. In particular, the A, O, R & D. Those center black pieces of metal are stranded, with nothing to hold them in place & would simply fall out.
To correct that, we connect the center of the letters to the outside. See the letter O below:
On the other hand, the silhouettes can occasionally pose a problem. For example, on the sign below left, the letters at the end are not connected to anything and so would simply fall apart. We would correct that by including metal strips or bars to connect all the letters into one piece (see below right)
When patterns get more complicated, we take each on its individual design. Just as the middle of letters is stranded, so can other sections of a design.
In the cowboy knockout, the metal section between the 2 legs would be lost, unless we did make some corrections, for example by making a gap between his knee and heel.
More complicated designs are below.
Below: Knock Outs
Below: Knock Outs