Before vehicle wraps are printed or cut, graphics are conceived and mapped out with the aid of software and templates, which help installers set up, print, and align graphics with minimal waste. It allows for quick, ready-to-print wraps, or complete customization. Software is available in single downloads or in full, multi-vehicle templates and design packages.
Templates and pre-made designs are set to the exact proportions of specific cars, buses, motorcycles, and other vehicles. The canvas goes beyond cars and trucks. Digital Designware software includes over 60,000 different templates for buses, tractors, trailers, boats, bikes, skidoos, jet-skis, a golf cart, some planes, and other special vehicles.
Shops new to vehicle wraps are not typically fine artists, and don’t posses art generating skills. “Most people enter vehicle wraps to make money. These are the same people that hope to be flat out in production and installation every day. However, a customer is also buying the art. Providing an above-average install is only part of the game. Without the right artwork, the sale is difficult,” explains Dave Dorsey, president, Aurora Graphics. The company offers an extensive line of high-resolution artwork, featuring background elements and imagery such as outdoor scenes, flames, flags, fish, and more. The designs are available in packages—Graphic Design Suite, Digital Firestorm, and Digital Skullz; and single downloads, and work with mainstream design software from Corel Corporation and Adobe Systems Incorporated.
Most print service providers use templates to create a wrap and work in conjunction with Adobe Photoshop and various fills and vector graphics. “Templates are helpful for text placement and very handy for proofing,” says Stacy Clausen, VP of marketing, FELLERS. From SAi International (SAi), The Bad Wrap software program includes more than 320 vehicles, spanning over 1,500 model years.
“Over the last three years templates have become more accurate with an increasingly broader selection of vehicles. Some are 3D to give customers a sense of the finished product,” notes Ritchie Daize, international digital account manager, Arlon, Inc. “They can also be used to help printers stack images to get the maximum yield from media.”
Professionals agree that wrap templates are an important investment. Josh Culverhouse, technical support, Oracal, recommends them. “They are a great tool that provides useful guidelines for layout design,” he shares.
Jason Yard, marketing specialist, MACtac, says he always recommends wrap templates as a necessary tool in wrap design. “When you start out with the right graphics that fit the job perfectly, it is a smoother process,” he explains.
To create a vehicle wrap template from scratch takes time and resources. Purchased templates alleviate the added work and lessen room for error. There are many facets to designing a template that inexperienced PSPs may not take into consideration. Art Station Vehicle Templates addresses perceptive issues to achieve undistorted rear window and front hood shapes. “Using our templates helps with job pricing and designing with confidence,” states Larry Lopez, owner, Art Station Vehicle Templates.
Art Station Vehicle Templates features over 3,000 templates created at 1:20 scale, which are saved as Adobe Illustrator or EPS files. The templates can be imported into almost any vector and cutting program such as CorelDRAW and SAi’s FlexiSIGN-PRO, and completely editable. A complete set is available for $299, or individual templates can be purchased for $30 each, with exact vehicle make, model, and year selected from a simple online drop-down menu.
Templates can also act as mock ups of the final wrap. Digital Designware, who offers the Car’n Truck Pro Vehicle Outline Collection, provides a 3D presentation tool with which the designer can convert the conventional 2D design into an animated 3D presentation in minutes. “The problem the end user always had—and still does—is the ability to visualize how the wrap appear on the vehicle,” confides Dirk Moebes, co-owner/CEO, Digital Designware. “This program helps to avoid misunderstandings.”
Aurora Graphics’ Web site offers a unique online Vehicle Wrap Design Studio where customers virtually wrap their vehicle. It allows sign shops to mock up a design and forward to customers for approval before purchase.
CADlink’s SignLab software includes a wealth of features that facilitate the design and production of vehicle graphics. The design front-end of SignLab includes bitmap and vector design special effect features used to create graphics. The back-end production area of SignLab known as Visual Production Manager is a fully integrated print–and-cut software RIP that supports most printers, cutters, and hybrid print/cut devices. In addition, CADlink also distributes the Pro Vehicle Outline collection by Digital Designware.
Coming of Age
The vehicle wrap market is now a large competitive industry, with a host of factors affecting its evolution. To support wrap providers, software, media, and printer vendors offer enhanced, user-friendly tools. Trade groups and manufacturers offer educational seminars, training sessions, and Webinars. Read more about the evolution of vehicle wraps in the November issue of Digital Output.