By Olivia Cahoon
Used for mobile marketing and personalizing, vehicle wraps are in steady demand. However, the design process is challenging due to vehicle measurements, curvature, and overlapping panels.
Software with application-specific tools overcome these challenges to provide a better workflow. Print service providers (PSPs) implement wrap software to save time and create better results.
Wrap software includes templates, design programs, and clip art. These tools offer print providers premade layouts, helpful shortcuts, and artwork for cars, trucks, and boats.
Wrap software saves time by eliminating the need to measure vehicles and create templates from scratch. The programs include features like pre-measured dimensions for various vehicle models. This detailed accuracy helps to prevent lost revenue from designs that need to be corrected multiple times or installation errors if something was designed improperly.
Dave Dorsey, president, Aurora Graphics Inc., explains that most shops can’t justify the time or equipment for talented artists to create original wrap artwork. To avoid a hefty investment, he says it’s much easier, faster, and inexpensive to purchase a pattern.
“Buying existing artwork enables the customer to look over the available designs, pick one, and move forward rather than paying and waiting for artwork to be designed and ultimately approved or rejected,” adds Dorsey.
Wrap software tackles the vehicle curvature, spaces, handles, and angles considered during artwork creation. “Designing for a vehicle wrap is a dramatically different workflow than working on a standard flat space,” says Sobia Hameed, product manager, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, Corel Corporation.
Furthermore, vehicle wrap software standardizes the initial quote and customer proposal process. “Presenting the vehicle graphics design to potential customers on a professionally created template improves the ability to close the sale,” explains Luke Green, sales manager, Pro Vehicle Outlines.
Templates for Efficiency
Wrap templates include libraries of pre-designed canvases for nearly any vehicle. PSPs may purchase desired templates based upon client demands.
The use of templates allows print providers to focus on the wrap’s creative design rather than the mathematics of the vehicle outline preparation. Annette Plummer, marketing director, SA International (SAi), believes using templates makes it easier for PSPs to communicate design concepts to the customer.
The SAi store offers over 4,000 vehicle templates available as photorealistic or full-size vector outlines. The templates are instantly downloadable after purchase.
The Bad Wrap also offers photographic templates. “The collection of photographic templates range from model year 2000 to current, focusing on cars, trucks, and vans available in the U.S.,” shares Jeff Garrison, technical director, The Bad Wrap. The templates are tenth scale, layered, masked, and design ready. They are available as individual designs for $29.99 and through a one or two year subscription package.
According to Green, the primary issue facing template use is ensuring the template library provides accurate measurements for all vehicle components and includes detailed vehicle trim placement. “Pro Vehicle Outlines always recommends that template users double check all details by quickly reviewing trim locations and conducting quick measurements on the actual vehicle,” he says. This includes the trim detail’s proper positioning.
Pro Vehicle Outlines is an 8GB file format accompanied by a reference book and an online subscription for immediate access to new vehicle templates. The templates are designed to import into existing design software. Green says this makes the learning curve for Pro Vehicle Outlines virtually non-existent. The software includes over 10,000 vehicles from 1994 to 2017.
Larry Lopez, owner, Art Station Vehicle Templates, says that because templates are two dimensional and the final product is three dimensional, it’s the designer’s responsibility to envision the template’s appearance on the vehicle. He suggests bleeds to allow enough vinyl for manipulation in any direction.
Clip art is artwork sold in collection sets that provide pre-designed graphics for vehicle wraps. The images include universal symbols and simple elements to inspire designers. Clip art eliminates the need to create custom graphics or textures. Instead, clip art directly imports into the design program.
According to Hameed, “the trick is to integrate clip art into your designs in such a way that your work remains unique and fresh for your client.”
Dorsey says large digital art sought by the vinyl industry is a relatively new arena. Raster artwork that is output ready in raw form may be 18.5 to 30 feet in length and 90 to 100 inches tall. “This is the scale of wrap art and we produce it at full scale to meet this need.”
Dorsey considers Aurora Graphics’ clip art as digital art. “We have thousands of complete wraps, partials, and of course design elements too. All of them are geared for vinyl output and are produced at full scale in the correct color space for today’s RIP software to ensure the best results possible.”
Design software enables adding, moving, and resizing graphic elements. Dorsey says that from artwork creation to final editing, design programs are vital and a mainstay within the vinyl industry. The software allows designers to save on costs and time. “If you don’t know the proper way to use it, it can eat your profits before you cash the check from the job you are engaged in,” he cautions.
Design software is sold alone or included in packages with templates and clip art collections. Adobe Systems Incorporated’s Creative Cloud provides the entire collection of Adobe desktop and mobile applications, like Photoshop and InDesign. It provides built-in templates and step-by-step tutorials.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is a complete design package capable of formatting vehicle jobs as large as buses. The software includes special tools for node editing, font management and selection, and integrates vendor-specific color palettes for accuracy.
Its design elements feature a knife tool that creates cut overlaps to tuck vinyl wraps inside vehicle doors and around angles. “A task that could easily take many steps and a lot of time for each overlap can now be completed with just one click,” says Hameed.
Design software understands cuts may need to wrap or separate from its adjoining piece, common for vehicle wrap designs.
A good design program includes features for other designs and graphics aside from vehicle wraps. “Vector illustration, photo editing, font management, and support for large paper sizes up to 150×150 feet are all essential features for anyone working in graphic production environments,” continues Hameed.
Software that scales to full size creates accurate layouts. SAi Flexi software accommodates full-scale vehicle templates for easier installation. Using the program’s Artwork Approval Tool, PSPs may send wrap proofs and receive comments from clients within the software. Plummer says the feature streamlines workflow and gets the job into production quicker.
Still, designing a complex vehicle wrap may be challenging for PSPs. To aid in this process, tutorial videos are readily available. Garrison says that The Bad Wrap offers tutorials and customer service to aid the design process.
Concerns for Wraps
Print providers considering vehicle wrap software should first ensure the shop’s operating system sufficiently handles large files. Workspaces must also accommodate full-size vehicle templates—12 to 15 feet long.
Wrap software is compatible with a variety of formats ideal for a PSP. However, additional plugins and add-ons increase the software’s cost. This may lead PSPs to be tempted by free or inexpensive templates available online. Green recommends avoiding this type of software. “Saving a few dollars on a template could very well end up costing hundreds of dollars in lost revenue because of accuracy errors,” he explains.
Print providers should also be aware of how many templates are included in the purchase. Green advises PSPs to see if the templates are North American vehicles or a collection of foreign vehicles rarely used in the U.S. Newly released vehicles should be added regularly to the collection and accessible.
Lopez suggests PSPs download template samples. Art Station Vehicle Templates offers several vehicle template samples for trucks and cars in vector format. The templates include an undistorted rear window shape for vehicles with drastic rear end slants. “We are constantly adding and updating our products. We provide quarterly updates to all our customers for a year for both of our products,” he says.
Art Station Vehicle Templates also markets a square footage guide, Wrap Dimensions, to aid PSPs with price quotes. “It helps you give the customer an immediate and accurate quote from the square footage of the vehicle,” explains Lopez.
Wrap designs are usually wider than the printer and media so designs are split apart into two panels. Installing the panels onto the car, also known as tiling, may be a challenge unless the software has an automatic tiling feature. “Doing this manually is time consuming and often results in errors that waste material,” shares Plummer. Software with tiling features avoid difficult tiling crossovers.
Vehicle wrap software should also be easy enough for the shop’s designer to use. PSPs should consider if new employees will adapt quickly to the software. Designers with insufficient knowledge of software programs leads to inadvertent editing, which may affect color and finishing.
“Knowing the workflow and the limitations of the editing software are vital. Lacking these skills can result in a roadblock in production,” suggests Dorsey.
Focused on Fonts
Founded in 1979, Diaz Sign Art provides graphic services for logos, print design, websites, business cards, brochures, letterhead, wrap design, illustrations, and t-shirts in Pontiac, IL. The shop originally offered interior design, painting, and hand-painted lettering and artwork, which it continues to offer today.
Diaz Sign Art uses Roland DGA Corporation VersaCAMM large format printers for signage. The shop commonly produces lettering and large graphics for semi-trucks and truck fleets using CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X8 and a Roland VersaWorks RIP.
The shop implemented CorelDRAW software after viewing a demonstration in 1990. “I was really impressed with the capabilities of CorelDRAW version one and have been using it ever since. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is my go-to software for all vehicle wraps and designs, I use it every day,” adds Joseph Diaz, owner/creative director, Diaz Sign Art.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X8 features Corel Font Manager for custom font organization. Diaz credits the wrap software’s user-friendly features and regular updates for its efficiency. “Once I’m in CorelDRAW, I can then filter my fonts to only see the style I want, so rather than spend time searching through thousands of fonts, I narrow it down to a specific category. That alone saves time, especially with big font collections.”
A Core Vertical
In 1979 Image Craft started as a photographic reproduction service that has since evolved into a large format digital printer in Phoenix, AZ. Doug Olson started Image Craft in a 6×4-inch closet in his one-bedroom apartment using the oven to dry prints. The company now serves clients worldwide in a 60,000 square foot plant.
Eric Rutin, sales and marketing VP, Image Craft, says the company lives by the motto, “any image, any size, anywhere.” The shop offers 392 products and its five core verticals include wallcoverings, window graphics, banners, corporate branding, and fleet wraps.
The print service provider subscribes to Art Station Vehicle Templates for singular wrap jobs and fleet wraps. After Image Craft expanded into national fleets, Rutin says the company quickly learned the importance of accurate templates for all projects.
The shop serves large businesses including Cox Communications for fleet wraps. “With a fleet like Cox that spreads across the country and has dozens of various vehicle makes and models, it would be impossible to survey each vehicle before designing and printing their wrap,” explains Rutin.
Using Art Station Vehicle Templates, Rutin says the shop is confident that executed wraps look exactly as intended. He adds that templates are accurate and updated, which saves time and money throughout the entire workflow. “When a client wraps their vehicle, they are making an investment in their brand and pocketbook, so a misplaced logo over a door handle or artwork that doesn’t fit the curves of the vehicle is completely unacceptable.”
Templates Kept Up to Date
Established in 2015, Skepple Inc. Wraphic Design Studio is a virtual design department in Jacksonville, FL. The company’s purpose is to fill a niche for vinyl wrap and sign shops without full-time designers.
Skepple started as a multipurpose business that offered websites, design, drop ship printing, and outsourced wrap installations. The company now works with more than 150 wrap shops in 22 countries with two designers in a 200 square foot office.
The company creates designs for custom and commercial street wraps for vehicles, trucks, trailers, race cars, and boats. The files are ready for print with the appropriate size, preferred color profiles, and overlapping panels.
Skepple creates its designs using Adobe Creative Suite. It also uses the application Astropad, which integrates the Apple iPad Pro into Adobe’s applications to directly hand draw into the program.
Scott Kepple, owner, Skepple, says the company regularly uses The Bad Wrap templates for accuracy. “We find ourselves basing many designs on The Bad Wrap templates because they are more appealing to look at than normal templates since they give a more realistic look of the vehicle in its final form.”
The Bad Wrap eliminates the need for the company to size, crop, and create templates. Skepple may immediately begin designing and by doing so, save time and money. The software has a layered TIFF format that allows designers to utilize templates in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
Kepple credits The Bad Wrap’s catalog features for keeping his company up to date. “You can purchase templates as needed or download with a subscription. They are always adding new templates.”
Based in Woburn, MA, Wrap Solutions is a graphic design, large format printing, and automobile advertising agency. The shop handles vehicle wrap design, printing, and vehicle wrap installation.
It originally offered hand carved signs and painting but made the transition to digital printing. Today, Wrap Solutions works in a 7,000 square foot area and serves Canada and the U.S. to deliver vehicle and boat wraps and window and wall graphics.
The shop produces 1,000 vehicle wraps a year with a minimum of three a day. It’s worked with corporations like Amaze International, Bapton College, Foco Fit Club, Massachusetts General Hospital, and MIT.
The company designs, prints, and installs full, partial, and quarter wraps directly to any vehicle. To do this, Wrap Solutions has a yearly subscription to Pro Vehicle Outlines and uses Adobe InDesign.
Emily Harguss, art director, Wrap Solutions, says the shop uses Pro Vehicle Outlines every day for its vehicle wraps. “It ensures accuracy for production and is very simple,” says Harguss. The program allows the shop to implement outside artwork into the software. “We find it to be more accurate and the one we trust.”
Wraps Come to Life
Print providers consider wrap software to avoid errors and save time and money. PSPs may utilize templates, clip art, design programs, or a bundled package of all three. Wrap software is composed of useful tools for the design process, which streamlines workflow and delivers quality assurance.
May2017, Digital Output