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Templatize to Simplify

Pre-Made Vehicle Templates

By Melissa Donovan

Business professionals in all industries look for ways to drive efficiency into every working hour. In the graphic arts, this means implementing efficient RIP software, sophisticated substrates, and a lights-out workflow. Any full-service sign shop knows that to make money, it is necessary to look for even the smallest tools to aid in the workflow department. For the well experienced or the novice, one solution to consider is pre-made vehicle templates.


A useful tool for layout design, they minimize the risk of error. Trusting a supplier that takes the time to accurately measure a vehicle means print service providers (PSPs) can move on to the next step, design. According to a recent poll taken by Digital Output (DO) readers, nearly 73 percent of respondents share that one of the reasons they use or have considered using vehicle templates is because of the associated time savings. This leaves more time for sales and profit.


Templates do more than save time, however. They also make for ideal proofing and prototyping tools. Customers may have a hard time visualizing just how their final graphic will turn out, or where an image might be placed on a vehicle.  A mocked up proof is the ideal sales tool to close the deal. 64 percent of DO survey participants use vehicle templates as sales tools.


There are a variety of solutions available to PSPs interested in pre-made vehicle templates. For the consummate vehicle wrapper, investing in a solution from Art Station Vehicle Templates, Digital Designware, or SA International, Inc. (SAi); whose collections offer over hundreds of templates ranging from cars to boats spanning several model years, is worthwhile.


Collections for the Collector

Most templates are vector-based, allowing for ease of manipulation without loss of quality. However, some are also offered as raster files, to promote a high-quality image. All solutions include cars and trucks, with boats and motorcycles as additional options depending on the collection.


100 percent of the DO readers involved in the vehicle template survey shared they have used templates for cars. 73 percent admit to using them for trucks and coming in third with 18 percent were those who say they use templates for boats. Nine percent claim to use templates for motorcycles and another nine percent for airplanes.


Art Station provides cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans, with a promise of semis available soon. Templates are saved as EPS files and compatible with any program that supports them. Model years are available the first day of that year. The 2011 edition was available on January 1, 2011.


The Car ’n Truck Pro Vehicle Outlines collection from Digital Designware offers model years from 1993 to 2011, with boats, motorcycles, trucks, and cars. It is compatible with products from CADlink Technology Corporation and SAi, as well as through design programs from Adobe Systems Incorporated and Corel Corporation on both Mac and Windows platforms. Pro Vehicle Outlines’ upcoming templates are generally available on December 1 of the preceding calendar year.


Digital Designware’s solution stands out from its competition in a number of ways. “It is one of the largest collections with over 60,000 templates available. Pro Vehicle Outlines comes as a hard copy printed catalog as well as easy to use three-dimensional (3D) conversion software that creates 3D renderings of vehicles, a great presentation tool,” explains Luke Green, sales manager, North America, Digital Designware.


Heather Wilkinson, owner, Window of Opportunity Inc., learned about Digital Designware four years ago—meeting a sales representative at a trade show in Toronto. “Having vehicles accessible makes it easy to present accurate and professional drawings to our clients,” she shares. Adding that the templates are helpful when outsourcing designs to out-of-office graphic designers, Wilkinson says emailing the files makes for an easy process.


SAi offers The Bad Wrap templates, which contain 320 vehicles; this includes cars and boats. These high-resolution TIFF files can be opened and edited in SAi’s Flexi 10 or Adobe Photoshop 7 or higher. Currently, they span model years from 1987 and 2010. 2011 templates are currently being developed and SAi expects to release them shortly.


Citing the ideal use of templates as sales tools, Stephanie Stamm, marketing manager, SAi, shares, “The Bad Wrap is an excellent presentation tool. Designers can drag and drop any graphic onto the template for a fast, life-like preview. Customers are impressed with the quality and speed of the proof, and can offer on-the-spot feedback.”


Providing a customer testimonial, Jim Wheat, owner, Pro DeZigns, says he’s used The Bad Wrap since 2006, when he began wrapping vehicles. “It is one of our most valuable assets. In the wrap industry time is money, and the last thing you want to do is skimp on design and presentation. Pre-made vehicle templates are invaluable tools for concept, design, and most importantly, printing,” he adds.


Purchase Options

Purchasing a collection versus one-off templates depends on the volume of vehicle graphics a shop runs through on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.


Art Station templates are priced at $299, but they regularly run specials. Individual templates are available through the company’s Web site. Bundled packages that include vector art and Wrap Master collections are available through distributors including Southbeach Graphics of Albuquerque, NM; Taylor Digital Imaging of New Brunswick, Canada; and Cutter Pros of Peoria, AZ.


Digital Designware’s templates are available from the company directly or through distributors. There are two solutions; a complete set on DVD with a hard copy manual and free online access to new or archived templates for a full year, or an online copy with unlimited template access for a six-month period.


SAi’s The Bad Wrap templates are available in two ways. First, The Bad Wrap DVD Collection, which retails for $795 in North America. Others looking for individual files should look to, where templates range in price from $29.95 to $34.95.


If a user isn’t interested in spending money on a targeted solution—such as those from Art Station, Digital Designware, and SAi—pre-made templates are inexpensively found on stock photography sites like iStockphoto—with images running around 15 credits, which is the equivalent of 24 to 95 cents a credit depending on the payment plan. Templates are also found in desktop publishing programs such as the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite.


Creation of a Template

According to Art Station, it usually takes four to five hours to complete a full template. Larry Lopez, owner, Art Station, explains that he takes his own photos and measurements at a car dealership. He stands about 25 to 30 feet away from the vehicle to reduce lens distortion. After images are captured, measurements are taken using tailor’s tape because according to Lopez, “it is soft and flexible and will not harm the vehicle’s surface.”


Lopez uses Adobe Illustrator to trace the photos at tenth scale. If a door is 41x32 inches, it becomes 4.1x3.2 inches. He then makes shapes out of the doors, hood, trunk, and gates—making it easier for designers to control color fills, as the templates are kept in B&W to only show design parameters. “I also provide an undistorted rear window shape because most vehicles may show an accurate rear drawing but the windows are foreshortened due to perspective issues,” adds Lopez.


Many of Art Stations’ customers find this in particular an attractive feature. Todd LaBrie, president/CEO, Carwraps, Inc., is one such client. “Lopez creates outlines that show every detail. It helps prevent the graphics professional from experiencing unexpected fit and finish issues, which are costly and time consuming,” he explains.


When Digital Designware creates a template it takes them approximately ten hours. They are created using manufacturer-supplied vehicle renderings, as well as physical viewing and measuring. Once all of the information is gathered, a vector line drawing is created and saved in Adobe Illustrator and then uploaded to the Pro Vehicle Outlines Web site.


Ranging from four to ten hours, these suppliers cut down on a considerable amount of time for the PSP. For a print shop that regularly produces vehicle wraps, creating a template for every job adds unneeded pressure to the task at hand. Every car is different, and assuming the same template will be used for every project is unreasonable.


Despite this, many PSPs have admitted to creating vehicle wraps without templates. 81 percent of the readers polled in DO’s survey share they do not use this time saving method on a regular basis. When asked how much longer it takes to create the vehicle wrap in question, 22 percent say four to five hours, 33 percent two to three, and 33 percent say one to two hours.


Why would a print provider not use pre-made templates? One reason is to exhibit control over the entire process, making a template just as well as the vendor. Lopez shares some advice, “some people take it to the next level and produce their own vector templates. Just keep in mind that it takes time out of your schedule. One way to make more money is to save time.”


Aiding in Application

Not only do pre-made templates save time in the design process, PSPs also use them to accurately wrap during application.


“Designers are able to easily reference key areas of the vehicle and be very precise in the positioning of the important elements within the overall design. The printed template is used as a reference during wrap application,” explains Green.


36 percent of readers share they also utilize vehicle templates to eliminate errors during the application process.


Tim Cuny, CO, Trimex Mobile, Marketing, Inc., has used Art Station’s vehicle templates for over five years to create detailed lunch truck templates. To target those who visit lunch trucks every day, Trimex’s clients request graphics for the back and sides of a truck. “Used as a mobile cafeteria for factories, construction sites, and industrial parks, a wrapped lunch truck becomes a rolling advertisement with eye-catching graphics,” says Cuny.


Save Times Infinity

Recognizing the benefits of pre-made vehicle templates are essential to a well-run sign shop. PSPs who constantly create vehicle wraps, or those just getting their feet wet, should consider either purchasing one of the above solutions or trying out images on a template-by-template basis.


The attractiveness of these tools is their ability to save time and money, on both the front and back end of a project. Ideally, they convey a look of cleanliness and sophistication when presenting a prototype or proof to a client.

May2011, Digital Output

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