Semiotic Standard Signage

The design of this website was heavily inspired by the Semiotic Standard (For All Commercial Trans-Stellar Utility Lifter And Heavy Element Transport Spacecraft) developed for the film Alien. The images used in the headers and navigation bar are based on artwork by Brandom Gamm, coloured on my own based on the palette found on Joe Blogs' website.


These signs, despite being completely made-up, are largely usable as caution signs. The ones relating to airlocks, bulkheads, and pressure suits strike me as being especially obvious.

What I find especially interesting is how some of the signs tell a story when you realize what the colours mean. For example, the radiation hazard sign shows a black stick figure lying down on a yellow field. Not obviously radiation (especially when one considers that we already have a well-known sign for radioactivity). However, knowing that yellow represents harmful processes (like radiation), and black indicates death the meaning becomes all too clear.

Were I to redesign these signs (which I may try someday) I would make a few changes. First off, making use of existing symbols (e.g. WHMIS, consumer hazard symbols) would seem a logical first step. While the Semiotic Standard symbol for radiation hazards is fun, it's perhaps less obvious than the existing trefoil symbol. Symbols such as the intercom could be made more obvious by using something like a telephone or radio, instead of the more abstract interlocking shapes used by the Standard.

Additionally, several signs are identical save for the colours of different regions. Existing hazard symbols are designed to be printable in black and white only. While not essential, making all symbols visually distinct when converted to monochrome seems like a good idea.

These signs are clearly intended for use on spacecraft which may not have gravity. This implies that the signs must be orientation agnostic; someone in zero-g may not view the signs oriented properly, as with no gravity the concept of "down" becomes nebulous. The creator of the Semiotic Standard has done a good job making the signs rotatable without losing their meaning. Any new/changed signs would need to keep this property.

Some new signs to use may be things like Pressurized, Refridgerated Areas with or without artificial gravity (based on the refridgeration symbol with a red standing/floating stick figure as needed), signs for other emergency equipment (e.g. portable intercoms/radios, flashlights, hull repair/patching kits), and the like.

Overall, I quite like the signs. The Semioic Standard is one of those hidden gems of film design. It's that background material that helps flesh out the setting, and shows that someone gave some serious thought to hypothetical problems.


The actual colour palette used consists of exactly seven colours, described by the creator of the standard as follows:

Black (#000000) Vacuum, death, hazard
White (#ffffff) Life-supporting condition, pressure, temperature
Grey (#7b7b7b) Same as white
Red (#ae0001) Viable, sound, alive, alertness
Yellow (#f7a400) Harmful, active process (e.g. molecular, nuclear, chemical)
Blue (#1a397c) Lowered thermal condition
Green (#11532f) Non-human biological substance or process, foodstuffs

(Note: these colours are approximate, based on screenshots from the film. They're the colours I use on this site, but they're not necessarily the exact, canonical tones.)

Official Signs

Pressurized Area Pressurized Area
Pressurized Area with Artificial Gravity Pressurized Area with Artificial Gravity
Artificial Gravity Absent Artificial Gravity Absent
Cryogenic Vault Cryogenic Vault
Airlock Airlock
Bulkhead Door Bulkhead Door
Non-Pressurized Area Beyond Non-Pressurized Area Beyond
Pressure Suit Locker Pressure Suit Locker
Photonic Systems/Fibre-Optics Photonic Systems / Fibre-Optics
Laser Laser
Astronic Systems/Electronics Astronic Systems/ Electronics
Hazard / Warning Hazard/ Warning
Artificial Gravity Area Artificial Gravity Area
Non-Pressurized Area: Gravity Suit Required Non-Pressurized Area: Gravity Suit Required
Exhaust Exhaust
Radiation Shield Radiation Shield
Radiation Hazard Radiation Hazard
High Radioactivity High Radioactivity
Refridgeration Refridgeration
Directions Directions (up, down, left, right)
Life Support System Life Support System
Galley Galley
Coffee Coffee
Bridge Bridge
Autodoc Autodoc
Computer Terminal Computer Terminal
Medical Medical
Medical Life Support System Medical Life Support System
Maintenance Maintenance
Ladderway Ladderway
Intercom Intercom
Storage Storage
Organic Storage Organic Storage
Refridgerated Organic Storage Refridgerated Organic Storage

Original Signs

These images are my own personal contributions to the Standard. They are in no way canonical, but try to emulate the style as much as possible.

Refridgerated With Artificial Gravity Refridgerated Area with Artificial Gravity
Refridgerated Without Artificial Gravity Refridgerated Area without Artificial Gravity
Hull Breach Repair Kit Hull Breach Repair Kit
Refridgerated Storage Refridgerated Storage