Background Recent advances in the manufacturing process and interactive technologies are developing signs that are three-dimensional and more dynamic. We incorporate soft materials and pneumatic actuation techniques to signage design and propose inflatable graphics, which can provide additional visual information with transformability and induce new types of visual effects. Methods We developed inflatable graphic tiles, which is comprised of three layers: surface layer, cavity layer, and the support layer. For implementation, we adopted a lost-wax casting method and we devised a release agent printing technique. We explored new possibilities of visual effects which shape-changing tiles create. We fabricated seven inflatable signs with various visual effects and we performed a user test with the tiles. Results Through prototyping and testing of inflatable graphics tiles, we identified distinct visual effects including state transition, altered materiality, transformability, animation in depth, and animation in the xy plane. The user test with seven inflatable signs indicates that the dynamic signs enhance visual attention and hedonic value, but worsen visibility and accurateness of graphic information to some extent. As a result, the inflatable graphics concept is more applicable to identity signs than to regulatory or directional signs. Conclusions This paper describes new types of visual effects that can be obtained by applying soft robotics technologies to graphic design. Through prototyping and a user study, we confirmed that the inflatable graphics concept has practical applicability to signage design.