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5 Tips on Designing Vehicle Wraps

By Michael Palladino | November 26, 2014 | in AAG

truck wraps

Vehicle wraps turn cars and buses into moving billboards. They’re popular among small businesses because they’re effective and affordable when done properly. There are a few things to consider: Will your business benefit from this kind of advertising? Can its message be delivered by something speeding down the road? Will you need help designing the wrap? As for the last question, probably. Vehicle wraps are some of the most difficult design challenges out there. There’s just too many variables for an amateur to handle.

1. Don’t overlook guidelines

If you’ve been assigned the job of designing a vehicle wrap, check the company guidelines regarding the colours, fonts, and images you can use. Some businesses are very strict about this and will specify exactly how their logo should appear. It’s also important not to infringe on anyone else’s copyrights, so double-check the design elements you plan on including.

2. Leave wiggle room

When using images and creating vector artwork, make sure there’s plenty of additional image outside of the template area. You’re designing in two dimensions something that will conform to a three-dimensional shape. The actual surface may be a bit more than overall measurements indicate. Logos and other graphic elements can be printed as overlays, allowing you to place them as needed. This prevents installation hassles and needing to redo the entire wrap if it doesn’t look right.

3. Match the vehicle

Vehicle graphics is one place you should exercise some creativity. They’re all about being noticed, so big and bold works best, even it if means modifying your logo. Make good use of layers when you need to isolate elements or tweak backgrounds. Rotate, add textures, and drop shadows. A vehicle is an irregularly-shaped canvas, so you need to come up with an irregularly-shaped design. Play on the vehicle’s style. If it’s a Hummer or SUV, forget pink—unless you’re selling makeup.

4. Use templates

Templates are readily available. A good print shop will supply you with the makings of a design, but not all are created equal. Since an inaccurate one can be costly once the wrap has gone to print it’s important to measure and evaluate the vehicle in person. Take pictures from all sides. These can help you visualize how the panels go together and spot potential issues. Study the lines. Look for angles that might distort the template. When in doubt, run everything past a qualified designer.

5. Send a clear message

Most people will only see your wrap for a few seconds. It should grab attention, control the eye, and leave a lasting impression. And it can’t carry too much information. The longer the message, the less likely it will be delivered in its entirety. Focus on one or two messages, keep the design clean, and don’t present the graphics randomly. An experienced eye can give you an edge. A pro can analyse the design elements and identify where the typical person is most likely to look in the first few seconds. They can be very helpful when revising your design.

About the Author

Michael Palladino

Michael has a strong passion for creating fashion for your car, having helped shape Auto Artisan into premier innovators and vehicle wrap industry specialists.

You can connect with Michael Palladino on Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn