customer story – AEC design & manufacturing

technical illustration from design to installation

Canvas software is used at every part of the custom sign manufacturing process at Arrow Sign Company, from artwork design, through engineering shop drawings, to wiring diagrams, and installation instructions.

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Name | Charlie Stroud

Role | President

Company | Arrow Sign Company

Industry | AEC – Signage


end to end illustration


Creating giant outdoor signs for corporate and civic environments is a uniquely integrated process. It begins with an artistic design, moves through structural engineering design and approval, on to fabrication and finally to installation.

At Arrow Sign Company in Oakland, responsible for creating iconic and highly complex outdoor signs – some of which can be up to 19 feet in height – Canvas software is used at every step.

It offers a uniquely integrated graphic design and technical illustration experience which is equal to the process.


“Canvas can handle just about everything we need to do because of the variety of features that it has.”


design to engineering


The process begins with a sales drawing of the sign created in Canvas and used to generate an estimation for the project. When the project is confirmed work begins on the shop drawings, which contain all of the technical information required for manufacture and installation.

“A good portion of the shop drawings we do are all in Canvas. We can add engineering drawings like mounting details, add in the nuts and bolts, the electrical diagrams and so on,” explains Charlie Stroud, president at Arrow Sign.

“We build right from those documents. Our fabrication team exports the Canvas drawing as an EPS and that becomes a cut file; they’ll scale it to full size and cut out the individual components from it. We have CAD CAM routers and benders that form and cut materials. You take an EPS file or a DFX file and feed it into the software for that machine, it reads all the points, determines all the lengths, and creates the components for assembly.”


AutoCAD compatibility for larger projects


For its largest projects, Arrow Sign’s shop drawings are created in AutoCAD. Here, the ability of Canvas to handle over 100 file formats proves essential.

Canvas drawings are exported as DXF files which Arrow Sign engineers integrate into an AutoCAD drawing. That drawing is sent to the building department for engineering approval and the Canvas drawing is submitted to the planning department.

“Canvas has features that, to this day, a lot of the other programs don’t have. The ability to work on multiple page documents, the import and export capabilities, and the depth it has in terms of dimensioning and drawing to scale are invaluable.”

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“Canvas has all the features to do not only all our design drawings but also all of the manuals we have to provide; the technical literature, the specifications, the wiring diagrams. On top of that we can use it for our presentations, our flyers, our print pieces and so on. It’s a great tool.”

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