Manual of Traffic Signs
How the Sign Images Were Created

All the images in the Manual of Traffic Signs (except for some of the older recreational & cultural interest signs) were drawn by Richard C. Moeur using the FreeHand graphic arts software package running on PowerPC Apple Macintosh computers (or under PowerPC emulation on Intel-based Apple computers). Although the FreeHand software suite is no longer maintained by Adobe, it still provides the flexibility, ease of use, precision, and color fidelity needed to exactly replicate standard traffic sign designs. If the website eventually migrates to newer software such as Illustrator, these FreeHand files are openable and exportable in Illustrator.

All sign designs and layouts conform as much as practicable to the designs and layouts established by the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the Standard Highway Signs and Alphabets (SHS) document. Dimensions are accurate to the nearest 0.05" or less, and standard Federal Series typefaces are used, with text layout and spacing on each sign adjusted to match official dimensions.

The most recent revision of the website utilizes electronic Federal Series fonts that exactly match the FHWA specifications and use new and updated letterforms and glyphs added by FHWA. Signs that feature user-editable text use the Roadgeek series of fonts developed by Michael Adams for that text. Older signs created in previous editions of the website utilize the Pixymbols series of fonts produced by Page Studio Graphics.

Each sign is drawn to full scale (1:1, 100%) in FreeHand. Symbols and arrows are created in conformance to SHS specifications. Complex symbols are either drawn trigonometrically or precisely traced from the layouts in the SHS Appendix. Variations of the sign (different colors, left and right versions) are created as needed.

Once each full-size sign layout is complete, it is scaled to fit on a standard presentation page, where the sign code, sign name, and copyright information is placed at the bottom of the page. The page is then exported as an Encapsulated PostScript file for conversion into a PDF file (export and convert provides far better color fidelity than simply "printing" directly to PDF format). The page is also exported as a high-resolution lossless GIF graphic file for easy browser viewing over a wide variety of platforms. Multiple versions of a sign or signs used in conjunction with one another are often grouped in a PDF file or GIF image. Also at this time a 100 x 100 pixel image of each sign is generated from the larger GIF file in the Graphic Converter application for website display.

If a sign has text that should be editable by a user (varying distances, legends, etc.) its PDF file is imported into the PDFPenPro application, where editable text fields are substituted for the static legend. All PDF files are modified to add sign codes, authorship information, and thumbnail display.

Once all the signs for a given series are complete, they are uploaded to the website and a webpage is generated. The coding and links for each sign is generated from an Excel spreadsheet that tracks sign coding and progress, and the page headers and footers are inserted as HTML code using a text editor. Also at this time a 50 x 50 pixel animated GIF file depicting selected signs in that series is created in Graphic Converter for display on the main sign category page.

Note: this website has no official connection to any of the linked providers or vendors, except as a satisfied customer.

Updated 28 September 2018 (completely revised with updated information)
Scripting: Richard C. Moeur

All text and images on this page © Richard C. Moeur. All rights reserved.
Linked sign layout files in PDF format provided courtesy of FHWA's MUTCD website
Unauthorized use of text, images, and other content is strictly prohibited. Refer to Copyright, Disclaimer, and Standard Use Agreement for details.