By Lisa Guerriero
Vehicle wrapping is a niche business that many print shops embrace. Vendors of vehicle templates provide layouts for many popular, and some exotic, vehicles.
Conceivably, it’s possible to wrap without templates. But due to low cost and ease of use, they allow print shops to produce competitively priced wraps quickly and with fewer errors.
The following print service providers (PSPs) generate a substantial portion of revenue by providing vehicle wraps of every type and size from full buses to partial wraps, all with the help of templates.
Templates enable faster, more accurate vehicle wrapping. Advertising Vehicles, based in Cincinnati, OH, uses templates daily. Fleet and vehicle wrapping contributes to about half of the business. Most of its jobs are full wraps, but it also handles partial wraps and artwork application. The company wraps boats and food trucks as well as more traditional vehicles.
Advertising Vehicles has a contract to wrap public buses for Cincinnati and Cleveland, OH; Lexington, KY; and Nashville, TN. It’s also created wraps for clients like Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, and Dominos. “Our business is all about large-scale printing and ‘messages that stick,’” says Sarah Miller, lead graphic designer, Advertising Vehicles.
Art Station Vehicle Templates is the sole provider of templates for Advertising Vehicles. The PSP selected Art Station because of the clean, precise layouts. Its Wrap Dimensions guide offers an accurate bleed area that ensures Advertising Vehicles sends the right amount of vinyl to print—which saves the PSP money.
“This is a huge tool for our sales executives. It helps generate accurate quotes for clients on the price of vinyl and perforated materials without having to pull a designer into the mix,” adds Miller.
Advertising Vehicles updates its subscription annually. It also works closely with Art Station, which provides new templates when new vehicles are introduced to the market. Art Station’s layouts are organized by type and are easily viewable with Adobe System Incorporated’s Bridge. This saves time when the PSP is wrapping a new vehicle, “instead of creating a template from scratch, which could take hours to create when you factor in the time and manpower to track down accurate measurements and photos,” notes Miller.
Art Station provides vector templates through Adobe Illustrator. However, Advertising Vehicles works with a variety of customers, some with inexperienced wrap designers. The PSP converts the templates into Adobe Photoshop files for each vehicle side, and embeds each file with details about formats, sizing, and bleed. This allows the client to visualize the wrap, and designers don’t have to worry about a client forgetting to send fonts and links.
“This is important because we open and review each and every provided art file before printing so we can help catch or educate a client about issues that might arise before printing and installing,” explains Miller.
When APE Wraps opened in 2002, the focus was using digital designs and print to simulate custom paint. Today, the jobs are more varied, including full and partial wraps, single vehicle and fleet jobs, and wraps for diverse vehicles like boats and trailers. Vehicle wrapping comprises about half the business at the shop, which is based in Coronado, CA. The other half is devoted to wrapping anything non-vehicle, such as buildings and walls.
Troy Downey, president, APE Wraps, believes templates are essential to print shops that handle vehicle wraps. “The only way to achieve a design that translates to the actual vehicle is to use an accurate vehicle outline/template. This accuracy translates to the bottom line; you are always working towards the finish and when previewing with a client it’s accurate and not hypothetical,” he says.
APE Wraps uses vector-based templates from CADlink Technology Corporation’s Pro Vehicle Outlines, a company it’s worked with since it began wrapping vehicles in 2002. “I prefer to use photo-based templates to sell the job initially, but always use vector-based templates for final sign off and production so I know my prints will fit as planned,” he notes.
The shop updates its template library once or twice a year with new models. Downey suggests other PSPs do the same, describing it as a necessary expense. “If I run across a job that requires a template I don’t have, then I set out to locate it in order to secure that particular job. In my case, I opt for a subscription; I’m always updating, I like to have new models at my fingertips, so I elect to have a subscription-based program that I can check at a moment’s notice.”
APE Wraps also uses the Wrap Design Studio from Aurora Graphics Inc., a Web tool for uploading and modeling graphics. Available on a subscription basis, the program gives the designer, as well as the customer, an interactive and realistic preview. It also lets users build the design they want, using Aurora’s purchasable, scalable graphic elements. Downey appreciates how the tool helps sell the job, encouraging the client to commit to the layout.
Cutting Edge Graphics
Greg Berlatsky’s background is in vinyl work. He opened Cutting Edge Graphics seven years ago in Marion, IL. He soon noticed the demand for vehicle wrapping. Not many shops were producing wraps at the time, and Berlatsky decided to “jump into it with both feet.”
He took a course on using templates for vehicle wrapping, and today, wrapping comprises about 90 percent of his business. When he was starting out, Berlatsky chose templates from CADlink’s Pro Vehicle Outlines. He researched template makers on the internet and was impressed by the reviews on Pro Vehicle Outlines and the precision it offered.
Berlatsky briefly experimented with designing wraps based on photos, but abandoned the idea before ever using it on a client’s vehicle. It was too time consuming, whereas the template method was effective. “I don’t even mess with photos any more, I just go straight to the template,” he says.
Cutting Edge Graphics still uses templates from Pro Vehicle Outlines on a weekly basis and updates its subscription every year. The layouts are easy to use, and Berlatsky can almost always find an outline for the vehicle—no matter what it is.
He also likes the accuracy that Pro Vehicle Outlines’ templates provide. Running off extra material on every job or having to redo jobs because you came up short “starts eating into your profit,” observes Berlatsky. “I can figure the bleed in on everything and never have to question whether I have enough material printed or too much material printed,” he adds.
The PSP also uses Aurora Graphics’ Wrap Design Studio for most jobs. He can demonstrate backgrounds, logos, and lettering in the click of a mouse, which customers like. In addition, the studio tool is mobile friendly, so Berlatsky can take his tablet to a client’s location. “It’s very unique,” he says of the program.
Digital EFX Wraps
Digital EFX Wraps, of Louisville, KY, began wrapping vehicles by taking photographs and measurements to create its own templates. Though the shop occasionally still does this, it now uses templates for most jobs. As the customer base grew, it needed templates to quickly create proofs and generate quotes.
“Vehicle templates became a way for us to speed up time and present our clients with a proof quickly. This also allows us to double check all of our measurements for proper quoting and correct print size,” explains Matt Richart, co-owner, Digital EFX. The Digital EFX team began using CADlink’s Pro Vehicle Outlines’ templates when the shop opened ten years ago. Richart likes how it provides the full layout of each vehicle along with top views and window measurements, and says this allows the shop to create proofs quickly.
About 85 percent of Digital EFX’s business comes from vehicle wraps. The PSP uses templates daily to keep up with workflow and reduce waste. “Vehicle wrap templates save time, manpower, and most importantly money. Getting a design to your client is important. The main issue is, if you don’t calculate how much material is needed for the job you can lose money by not adding up all of your materials,” says Richart.
The shop develops a price estimate based on the template sizes, and provides an initial quote “without having to see the client’s vehicle,” he notes. And if a customer is creating the design in house, Digital EFX sends them the template to get started quickly. Then the company focuses on printing and installing.
Rob Ivers, Inc.
Rob Ivers first applied vinyl graphics in the 1970s and transitioned to vehicle wrapping when digital technology made it possible in 1993. He joined the Professional Decal Application Association, Inc. (PDAA) in 1993 and currently serves as a member of the group’s steering committee. Ivers helped establish the PDAA’s certification program and serves as certification director. President of Rob Ivers, Inc., he teaches wrapping classes and judges wrap contests.
Ivers recommends using templates as a way to save time, money, and manpower. “Templates from companies like MR-Clipart and Pro Vehicle Outlines are more accurate than photos and can save hundreds of hours in measuring, even if you only do a few wraps a year,” he observes.
Many professional wrappers recommend using a template for the design and quote stage, then double check the dimensions in real time prior to installation. “You should take a few measurements since it is impossible to accurately portray a 3D shape on a 2D template,” suggests Ivers.
Nagle Signs Inc.
Based in Waterloo, IA, Nagle Signs Inc. is a full-service sign shop that designs, manufactures, and installs all forms of interior and exterior signage. About five percent of its total sales are specific to wraps.
Holly Friedman, graphic designer, Nagle Signs, says the need for vehicle wrap templates became apparent when the company first began offering large format prints and partial/full vehicle wraps. “Keeping up to date with vehicle makes/models and the body styles that each present is a challenge. Not having templates on hand that were easily accessible by our design department slowed the process,” she explains.
While the companies’ vehicle designs were based off of line art templates, which provided accurate scale renderings of the vehicles, wraps presented a three-dimensional element the team wasn’t used to. In response, the PSP turned to The Bad Wrap. High-resolution, raster-based templates help the designers anticipate all the body lines, moldings, curves, and features on the vehicles.
“The design-ready templates took the guesswork out of the process, allowing us to focus on the layout rather than the initial setup. This eliminates photographing/scaling the vehicle prior to design. Less guesswork and setup time equals more options for innovative design solutions aimed at drawing attention to our clients’ businesses,” adds Friedman.
Revving Up Production
Templates allow print providers and wrap professionals to work on a variety of vehicles. The ready-to-use layouts streamline design and installation, saving money and ensuring accuracy and speed throughout an organization.
May2015, Digital Output