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Vehicle Templates Ease Wrap Design

By Cassandra Balentine


Advertising and branding opportunities evolve past traditional mediums and are used to transform everything from floors to buildings. Vehicle wraps remain a popular marketing platform. Essentially a moving billboard, companies look to this unique form of advertising for both branding and sales generation.


As more organizations realize the benefits of vehicle wraps and print service providers (PSPs) perfect their processes, profit opportunity is presented. The automotive industry is growing. According to Polk, a global automotive market intelligence firm, new vehicle registrations in the U.S. in 2013 are expected to rise 6.6 percent over 2012 levels to 15.3 million vehicles.


Simultaneously, the firm’s analysts forecast North American production volumes to increase to the 15.9 million unit range—an anticipated 2.4 percent increase from 2012. Each registered and new vehicle represents a potential wrap sale. In addition to personal vehicles there’s also transit to take into consideration.


Vehicle templates providing ready-to-use artwork enable efficiency for PSPs when it comes to design and even installation of wraps and graphics. Template programs are used to help illustrate a wrap for a client in the design phase, as well as assist designers in producing an accurate layout for installation.


Bryan Manwaring, director of product marketing, ONYX Graphics, Inc., suggests that template solutions provide a dramatic reduction in print jobs’ preparation costs. “A typical print job can be as much as 56 percent in overhead costs,” he explains. Vehicle templates help reduce job preparation time and eliminate costly design errors that could complicate installation.


Larry Lopez, owner, Art Station Vehicle Templates, points out that time is money—an old adage that holds true for any vehicle wrap business. Templates can ease some of the time it takes to create and design vehicle wraps. “Everyone in the industry uses some kind of template, whether it’s a photograph or line drawing done by the artist or purchased from a company that specializes in vehicle templates,” he suggests.


In addition to a design aid, template solutions provide a sales benefit for companies. “If you want to look like a professional company, you use templates,” states Luke Green, manager of sales and support, Pro Vehicle Outlines, CADlink Technology Corporation.


“Showing a proof of what the wrap/graphics looks like sells the job nine out of ten times,” he continues. “People always prefer to see how the graphics will appear before the job is completed.”


Similarly, vehicle template software often utilizes layers, which provide a time saving and effective method for design changes, such as swapping a graphic’s color. This is ideal when managing a job for a fleet of vehicles that will ultimately differ throughout the entire project or if it is utilized at a later date.


Solutions and Features

A handful of vendors offer templates. These are commonly downloaded from the Web or purchased and installed via out-of-the-box software.


Art Station provides two products—the 2013 Vehicle Templates Collection and Wrap Dimensions. The 2013 Vehicle Templates Collection consists of vector-based line drawings with over 5,700 vehicle templates. Wrap Dimensions is a PDF book that allows PSPs to quickly look up the square footage of a vehicle for estimating purposes.


The company constantly updates its collection. Currently, customers receive a new download link of the collection every three months to stay current.


CADlink’s Pro Vehicle Outlines offers vehicle templates that range from 1993 to 2013. It includes a disc set with Adobe Systems Incorporated Illustrator files and a printed manual to easily find the templates. The company includes more than 9,000 North American vehicles along with square footage listing for quick quotes.


Pro Vehicle Outlines offers toll free technical support and a 24/7 online customer service that allows the customer to download any new vehicles created 365 days from purchase. The software is updated throughout the year on the company’s Web site. This gives customers access to newly released vehicles. Prices range from $249 to $449 depending on the package.


MR Clipart provides access to over 70,000 templates for $99. Features that the company notes as differentiators from competitors include three dimensional (3D) design software, 3D models, tablet design capabilities, layered files for easy and fast changes, usability in all design and sign making software packages, as well as software classes and workshops specially designed for wrap and sign industry needs.


The MR Clipart product works in any existing design or sign making application. Updates are added on a weekly basis and the files are available to all registered and active users three times a week on the company’s site.


MR Clipart offers annual access for unlimited downloads starting at $99 and a lifetime access for $499 U.S.


ONYX offers SmartApps VehicleWraps, which is a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator. The software enables users to combine paneling and design of vehicle wraps within one application to streamline print production and finishing.


Design features are available during set up to enable accurate output. Users simplify their workflow by operating within Adobe Illustrator and eliminating the need to learn extra tools. SmartApps VehicleWraps is available for $499.


The Bad Wrap offers high-resolution photographic images. Malcolm M. Hilcove, CEO, The Bad Wrap, notes that files are to scale and accurate within one to two inches. Individual templates are sold online for $29.99 and subscription-based packages are also available. The one year package includes access to the entire library and weekly updates. The two year package adds on custom templates, PS Touch templates, and pre-made panels. To access The Bad Wrap program, customers purchase the product as an external hard drive or access templates online.


Hilcove recommends those new to the vehicle wrap design business start by buying individual wrap templates. That way they can be sure to not spend unnecessary funds.


PS Touch templates are the latest addition to The Bad Wrap. They are designed to allow sales and marketing staff to demonstrate to potential customers how The Bad Wrap program works and help them envision what a wrap would look like on their vehicle.


The Artwork Element

In addition to vector-based vehicle templates that aid in the design and installation process, digital artwork is a consideration for vehicle wrap providers. “Using purchased artwork is a necessity if you’re planning to grow your business,” suggests Dave Dorsey, owner/founder, Aurora Graphics Inc. “If you’ve ever spent a long time producing a piece of artwork for a client and then have the client reject it, you understand exactly what I’m saying,” he says.


By purchasing existing digital art, users show customers the design in advance and receive client approval before the purchase to avoid art rejection and wasted time. He points out that a skilled artist takes days to complete a given design—including rendering time—and those days cost the shop owner more money in payroll then it would take to buy existing artwork.


Dorsey notes that clients are motivated by the idea of applying artwork to a vehicle. “Without artwork, no one would be wrapping anything except to cover up bad paint,” he states. “The shop who embraces the template system and purchases digital artwork whenever possible will have superior prints, spend drastically less time on artwork and layout, and streamline the sales, design, approval, production, and installation of each job.”


Aurora Graphics provides over one terabyte of digital artwork through its Web site, which can be purchased one file at a time and downloaded. Additionally, the company offers its DVD collection series, which contains artwork ideal for signage, vehicle graphics, point of purchase displays, partial wraps, full wrap backgrounds, accents, design elements, and vector artwork. The artwork consists of individual graphic files that range in format from JPG, TIFF, EPS, and PDF.


The company also offers its Wrap Design Studio Web site, which is a sales tool that enables customers to create mockups online and view instantly.


Template Challenges

Precision is critical when designing and installing vehicle wraps. Therefore, designers and installers should follow the measure twice, cut once rule. Additionally, it is important to realize that as good as a template may be, it could be off.


“Templates are useful guides in sizing the graphics and preparing them for printing, but there are limits to what they can do,” cautions Manwaring.


Lopez points out that templates are flat representations of a 3D object. “Regardless if it’s a photograph or line drawing, you will not see the depth and concavity of each view,” he adds.


Green warns that not all templates are created the same. “Make certain you find a template manufacturer that specializes in your geographic region,” he notes. Green also points out that valid technical support and accuracy are essential considerations when choosing a specific layout.



The use of templates varies by wrap provider. For PSPs churning out vehicle wraps regularly, templates are a worthwhile investment. With the variety of solutions and pricing structures, an option is available for everyone.


Depending on the customer, Manwaring sees both purchased sets of templates as well as those created internally by the PSP. “In either case, our customers are looking for quick and simple ways to create print-ready files. This includes not only applying artwork to vehicle outlines, but they also need tools to assist in paneling and creation of installation guides,” he says.


Green adds that the benefits of using templates become immediately obvious to those that purchase them.


Dirk Moebes, co-owner/CEO, MR Clipart, estimates that more than 30,000 customers use the company’s product and that customers download hundreds of files each year. “The average use of templates is somewhere around 75 percent,” he estimates.


Profit Potential

As more businesses realize the benefits of vehicle wraps and the capabilities afforded by the latest digital print technologies, PSPs look to streamline the process. The use of templates—and ready-to-print artwork—help reduce design preparation time for many jobs, translating to faster turnarounds and an improved bottom line. Additionally, from a sales perspective, templates provide a visual for the end user, so they can truly envision a wrap before signing off.


As long as vehicles are manufactured, wraps present a viable advertising and branding service. Technologies and processes evolve and they become more affordable to produce and promote with the help of templates.


May2013, Digital Output

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