10 Tips for Designing Vehicle Wraps with Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator is a great tool for designing vehicle wraps, and with the help of Adobe PhotoShop you can achieve beautiful, high impact results. Perhaps the most important tip for the designer is to begin with an accurate template and work closely with your print provider to follow their required quidelines. Installation and print considerations can sometimes trump an interesting design idea when it comes down to the practicality of applying images on vinyl to metal. Below are 10 tips to bear in mind while working with wrap designs.
Powerful marketing use of vinyl vehicle wrap that dares you not to notice!
- Your design starts with an accurate template of your vehicle — they are available from the manufacturer or online and are essential for creation of your design at the correct size. Most templates come drawn at a scale of 1:20. Change the scale from 1:20 to 1:10 by selecting all and increasing the size by 200%. Now the scale is 1:10, where 1 inch onscreen equals 10 inches in real life. When the files are output, they are scaled at 1000%. It keeps the math simple.
- Begin by setting up your template with the correct layers. One layer will need to include all the bumpers, windows and elements that allow you to view the design in a realistic way, but are really not needed for printing. This layer should be at the top of the Layers palette. You can keep it locked while you work. Create separate layers for each of the different views that will be printed out: passenger side, drivers side, front, back and top. On each layer you will need to place a copy of the vehicle outline of that view to clip the images/artwork placed there. Create a Clipping Layer (not just a clipping path). That way, all art placed on that layer will be clipped, regardless of its order in the palette. When it comes time for output the clipping mask can be turned off. Also, name each layer clearly. Keeping all of this organized is the key to creating usable files that your printer can use for output.
- Keep in perspective how your wrapped vehicle will be seen – usually while in motion, or from a driver’s level view while sitting in traffic. Bolder colors and one main point of focus might work best to make your design eye-catching. Extensive text will probably not be very useful. By the way, if your vehicle has a sliding door, be sure any text or images don’t create an unexpected result when the door is open… you don’t want to be surprised by what might inadvertently be created!
- Be careful of the corners! Bear in mind that your design has to be tiled into panels which are generally 52 inches wide, and your print provider or installer will need to discuss with you any concerns they have about how difficult the crossovers on these panels will be to line up during application. When you design a side view, it will have to connect with the front and back view. These “corners” will have to either match or have some allowance made for one image ending and the other beginning. If you can work in a solid color in these areas, or white space, it may prevent an awkward crossover in the finished product.
- If you work with Photoshop to bring in image or pixel-based artwork for your wrap, be sure you are using a high resolution image. The preferred resolution for an image placed at 100% in this 1:10 scale is 720dpi – much higher than what is preferred for standard offset printing. The reason is that these files will be output at 1000%. File sizes will be large.
- Some parts of your vehicle cannot be wrapped: state laws effect which windows can be covered with 50/50 window graphic material, and some plastic components will not allow the vinyl material to properly adhere. Consult the installer to find out these limitations, and to determine whether handles, chrome, and other decorative pieces can be removed, covered, or cut around.
- Keep it simple. Overly complex designs will often defeat your purpose, both in being visually confusing and difficult to install. Car wraps have great proven recall rates, but too much information will work against a good impression.
- Allow for at least 3 inches of bleed area outside the outline of the vehicle – that translates to .3 inches at the 1:10 scale you are working with. When in doubt, leave even more.
- Avoid use of spot colors – go ahead and convert them to CMYK or RGB (whichever mode in which your provider suggests you work). The use of spot colors where any transparency is involved can result in some strange and unexpected results when printed.
- Save a copy of your file to keep. Then turn all your fonts to outlines, save it as an eps and turn that in, along with ALL linked or placed image files, to your print provider.
Expect your printer to make some adjustments, with your approval, to your files in order to achieve the best results. It is also a good idea to doublecheck measurements between your digital template and the actual vehicle to avoid any costly mistakes. Designing “flat” artwork to fit over an irregular three dimensional object can be tricky, so work closely with your printer and installer to achieve the best possible outcome.
Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solution
Good Video on Visualizing a Car Wrap
30 Brilliant Vinyl Car Wrap Designs
Custom vinyl car wraps, commonly called car wraps or vehicle wraps, have become very popular. This relatively new and rapidly growing industry relies on wildly creative precision graphic design teams and skilled installers. While many art car wraps are installed for commercial purposes, there is also a growing demand for more personal designs, reminiscent of Americanized art trucks of Pakistan.
The Tattoo Car
(images via: Action Graphics and Signs)
The tattoo car is a full wrap and serves as a memorial to Paul Rodgers and Carolina Slim. Action Graphics and Signs designed the graphics and wrapped the vehicle. It is an every day personal vehicle, so this wrap gets a lot of attention.
Sleek and Animalistic Wrap Designs
(images via: Super Wraps)
At Super Wraps, the focus is on unique design. This company offers completely original custom vinyl car wraps or allows you to choose a pre-made design for your vehicle. Vinyl car wraps can be short-term or long-term, and partially or fully cover the vehicle.
Car for a Cause
(images via: Action Graphics and Signs)
This car was wrapped by Action Graphics and Signs for breast cancer awareness. Shawn Pilkington drives the brightly wrapped pink car in support of his wife who has battled breast cancer.
Larger Than Life Vehicle Wraps
(images via: Skinz Wraps)
Skinz Wraps has several locations in the U.S. and provides complete vehicle wrap services. This leading company in vinyl vehicle wraps employs top designers and installers and does not sub-contract any part of the process. They offer the “flat black” wrap that is stunning, but somewhat hard to find.
Car Wraps Are All the Rage
(images via: Rage Wraps)
Rage Wraps in Illinois provides bold and unique designer graphics on vinyl to transform any vehicle into a work of art. The company focuses on commercial designs to get businesses noticed out on the street.
(images via: Vehicle Wraps)
There’s nothing subtle about the work done by Vehicle Wraps. Here vehicle wraps are larger than life and promote the latest trends. Since vinyl car wraps can be frequently changed, they are a quick, easy and less expensive alternative to custom paint. All that, plus they protect the paint underneath from the sun and minor scuffs and scratches.
Vinyl Car Wraps Make an Impact
(images via: National Impact Wraps)
At National Impact Wraps in Texas, they have perfected vinyl car wraps down to a science. The company competes in vehicle wrap competitions and provides striking designs for corporate and personal vehicles.
(images via: CarWraps.net)
CarWraps.net is a national company specializing in corporate fleet vinyl vehicle wraps. Working on such a large scale allows the company to keep costs lower. In addition to corporate fleet car warps, CarWraps also designs and installs custom vinyl graphics on personal vehicles.
Vinyl Car Wrap Training and Competition
(images via: 360 Wraps)
360 Wraps in Texas not only designs custom vinyl car wraps, they provide training to educate others on the proper wrapping techniques. The company also participates in speed wrap competitions and are great sports, even when they don’t win. Perfection takes time.
The Vinyl Car Wrap Process
(images via: 360 Wraps)
Laura from 360 Wraps shares some photos of the car wrap process. Digital designs are created based on a vehicle-specific template. The designs are then printed on vinyl with adhesive backing. The vinyl is then precision cut to fit and skillfully applied to the vehicle.
Masterpieces are not just created on canvases. Nowadays, many graphic design companies are creating works of art in the exteriors of buses, cars, trucks, vans, and other types of vehicles. And why not? Vehicle wrapping transforms modes of land transportation into graphics on wheels and mobile advertisements. Your design will be seen by thousands of people on a daily basis, and help your client increase revenue and brand visibility.
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Vehicle wraps are hard to miss because they are designed to command attention. The design possibilities are endless. The trick lies in getting the message across with the proper use of contrasting colors, images, space, and typography.
Graphics and lettering used to be painstakingly (or rather paint-stakingly) done by hand. But digital printing technology and vinyl have made it easier for graphic designers and wrap installers to create half or partial wraps (which usually start at the rear of the vehicle and makes its way towards the driver and passenger doors) and full vehicle wraps.
Creative, well-installed vehicle wraps look like they have been hand painted on the car or truck. They also provide visual tricks that simply can’t be achieved using manual painting. A quality vehicle wrap can last between five to seven years – a good return of investment.
Here are some of the factors that you need to consider before you design your first vehicle wrap:
Choose a vector graphics editor like Adobe Illustrator, which will enable you to create designs that you can scale without losing clarity. Photoshop is also useful for designing vehicle wraps but Adobe Illustrator loads faster. Use vehicle templates so you don’t have to take photographs of the vehicle and measure the dimensions.
A wrapped vehicle is basically a moving signage so keep the message simple. It’s impossible to enumerate all of the products, services, and benefits. A design that is too text heavy is likely to be ignored so stick to the business name, contact information, and a tag line. Remember: wraps must be readable while cruising on the highway and when parked.
Highlight the important parts of your message by using contrasting colors. A good color scheme allows the message to stand out.
Resist the temptation to turn your vehicle wrap into a collage, particularly if you’re working on large vehicles like buses, trucks, and vans. The images should complement the overall wrap design, not take over it (unless your wrap is mainly for vanity).
The message must be legible while the vehicle is in motion or stationary. Choose a simple font and keep the size normal, not too big and not too small. Use the right spacing. Reverse the text on the hood to make the message readable on a rear view mirror.
Add white space whenever possible because it accentuates your design. The colors and images attract your audience – the drivers and pedestrians – while the white space allows them to zero in on your client’s message including the name, number, and address.
Take a look at some awesome vehicle graphics: