In general the sequence is outlines first, water gilding before oil gilding, shades and shadows after the lettering is finished with backgrounds or varnishing last. The protective varnish layer or a painted background is always the last step so I wont include it in the following descriptions. You can take it as given that signs are always varnished to increase life expectancy, being subject to an unkown future of careless window washers. I don't usually varnish my artworks as they intended to be framed and are not subject to wear.
This sequence can vary with a number of standard lettering treatments. A good example is the common combination of outline/bright letter with a matt centre, also called "Boston Style" in the USA. The usual (quick) method is to paint the outline (a) first, then frost the glass with talc or whiting for visiblity and paint the centre (c) with goldsize/varnish. Follow by water gilding the whole letter, backing up is easy as the outlines show clearly through the gold.
This gives an acceptable bright/satin contrast within the letter but to
get a better result I prefer the following:
Water gild the outer section (b) of the letter first. Next paint in the centre (c) with goldsize and oil gild using transfer leaf for a truly matt centre. Finish with the outline (a) that covers the whole back of the letter. This is painted using a paint that is not fully opaque so that you can tell how thick the outline is as you paint it from the back. If you use an opaque paint you end up with an uneven width outline that looks very amatuerish. Alternatively you could finish it with a shadow or shade
Bright with Matt Centre -1. Letter shape, bright as outline 2. centre (oil) Bright with Matt Centre and outline (budget) - 1.outline 2. Centre,varnish 3.Backup with water gild Bright with Matt Centre and outline (premium) - 1. Letter shape,bright as outline 2. Centre (oil) 3. Outline Prismatic (budget) - 1. Varnish, one half 2. Water gild whole letter Prismatic (premium) - 1. Water gild,one half 2. Oil gild other half