Missouri Highways - Route Markers

Added August 9, 2002; revised March 4, 2007

The route markers on the Missouri Route Log were based on shields produced by David R. Kendrick's Shield Generator. David has replaced this program with a newer, more flexible program called Shields Up.

I created the Missouri markers based on the sign blanks produced by Shield Generator. The Missouri outlines were copied from this photograph with subsequent editing and retouching in the GIMP graphics editor.

The original sign-blank images were 500 or 600 pixels wide by 500 pixels high. For the Route Log, they were reduced in size to 100 or 120 pixels in width by 100 pixels in height. In addition, the "Interstate" legend was removed from the Shield Generator's version of the Interstate shield. Business Loop and Business Spur markers were created by replacing the red and blue colors of the Interstate shield with the green color of the loop and spur shields.

Until December 2004, the font used for the signs was the freeware font Blue Highways by Larabie Fonts. In many cases, the numbers were kerned and adjusted by hand.

Then I discovered Michael Adams' Roadgeek Fonts, which were of much more realistic quality. I decided to re-do all the markers with Michael's fonts. I occasionally had to engage in some hand-kerning. Often, though, I was able to use the fonts without additional modifications.

Consistent with MoDOT practice beginning in 2000, the three-digit routes, including state routes, were given "wide" markers (non-square rectangular markers with an aspect ratio of 5:4). Before 2000, most US and state route markers in Missouri used square sign blanks.

When creating the new markers, I was able to use the GIMP graphics editor. It was simply a matter of "de-indexing" each blank, adding the fonts, "anchoring" the fonts with a single click, and then "re-indexing" the resulting marker. GIMP automatically preserved the transparent background for each marker and anti-aliasing for the fonts as long as the blank was de-indexed.

This procedure works in version 1 of the GIMP; the equivalent steps in version 2 may be different.

The use of the Roadgeek Fonts enabled a much closer match with actual MoDOT font usage, varying the font depending upon the type of highway and the number of digits in the route. The GIMP editor (version 1) only allowed a preset number of font sizes, but they matched well with the 72 dpi GIFs:

I decided not to include markers for defunct routes, except for US 66 and US 460. I may add them at some point, based on the old-style Missouri cutout markers.

I did not include markers for business routes or spur routes to reduce clutter and save time.

Why did I do all this? I wanted to freshen up the Route Log. It had been more than four years since major changes had been made to it. When David Kendrick made his Shield Generator program available, I sprang into action and a long-awaited enhancement to the Missouri Route Log finally happened.

Many thanks to David Kendrick for Shield Generator (now Shields Up!), and to Michael Adams for the Roadgeek series of fonts.

Mark Roberts
Oakland, California
E-mail: Please see the Contact Information page.