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Vinyl Vehicle Car Wrap Advertising, Graphics Design Competition


Some tips and tricks to use when designing a great vehicle wrap.


A car wrap makes use of a number of graphic design disciplines. You need to look at a car wrap as a moving billboard, but at the same time when you are behind the car in slow moving traffic or when its parked - its a brochure. When you design a vehicle wrap it makes use of page layout, packaging, advert design, logo design and presentation skills.

Design Warp

But a vehicle wrap is not a flat area, it has shape and style, and the design needs to accent the shape and form of the vehicle to be effective. If the vehicle is a van you can pretty much approach the design as a flat sides or flat sheets of artwork area, but if its a shapely sports car then you need to adjust your design to suit how the graphic areas will be presented to the reader.

Design Warp


Step 1

If the client did not submit photos of the car that will to be wrapped, you need to go take photos of a similar model yourself. You will require photos of the FRONT, BACK and BOTH SIDES. Take good, clean photos with minimal shadows.


Step 2

Redraw the car in your chosen design package, then use this as your template to design on. If you have an existing template or can get one online, thats fine too. But make sure itís the exact car. Working with the actual car is always better.


Step 3

Drop your graphics on your design template. Design ALL sides of the car, DO NOT design one side only. Designs often do not mirror well. Create your artwork in either a vector program such as Freehand and Illustrator, or a layered Photoshop file. Remember everything is magnified to a large format, so check to see that your design can scale!


...But wait, there's more!

Presentation is EVERYTHING! You can present your artwork to the client in any number of ways.
Think outside the template... try something different!

More Design


Just as you design an advert you need to assess the weighting of importance of the elements in the design. What do you want seen and read first and what should the reader move to next. On a flat sheet of paper this principle can be followed easy as you simply apply the rules of reading left to right (in the western world) and use colour, layout and size to ensure the reader absorbs the message in the correct reading order. On a vehicle you need to look at the elements you need to present and place them in the best possible way to achieve the marketing goal. But its most complex as you donít have a simple flat square surface to work with. And the viewer may not see the part of the car you want them to first.


Designers often make the mistake of simply mirroring the design on one side to the other, and not taking into consideration that this often does not work. You canít mirror the logo, but you could mirror the template shapes and angles and the apply your artwork according to that. Often a grid applied to one side should be applied to the other side and the elements rearranged. But this doesnít always compute, as you have doors, handles, windows and beading to contend with. Its a nice challenge to your design creativity.


Do you design on flat sheets or do you design the car as a real 3D mockup with shadows and lighting. This really depends on what you are comfortable with or what your expertise level is. In most cases all you need to do is take photos of the car from the sides, front and back - then redraw the car template in a drawing package like Coreldraw or Illustrator. Once you have a nice clean template you can design your graphics, and scale it according to the size of the vehicle right in the design package. This will ensure you scale your graphics to the correct size and import images and pixel independent graphics at the right resolution for print. A rule of thumb for large format printing is provide your graphics at a resolution of 150 pixels per inch. This is half the resolution required for normal litho printing. Most designer prefer designing flat as this is how you need to supply the artwork to the sign shop in the end.


But when designing flat, remember that you are also designing in a flat space for something that has curves and a lot of shape, edges, handles and joins. Your artwork must be designed to be easily applied. If you have created a design that has exact spacing around a handle and to the edge of the car - bear in mind that the wrap is like a massive sticker and no matter how skilled the applicator is, there will often be a couple of millimeters here are there that do not line up - so design your vehicle wrap to be forgiving and give the sign shop some space to move in when applying your design.


You have designed the wrap and the client has signed off, now you need to send to your sign shop or Roland Wizard to get it done. What is the best way to supply the files and the artwork? The best is to provide printouts of what was presented to your client to approve, all the artwork files at the right size and right resolution. You want to be friends with your sign shop, so give them everything they need to get your job done right.

Um... Fail!

This is how NOT to do it!


Next Round deadline 31 july 2009 have you entered yet?

About Vehicle Wraps

About designing vehicle wraps and what we are looking for when you design.



The awesome ROLAND machines that can print your vehicle wraps are:

Printed Roland

WANT ONE? Are you are thinking of starting your own business or adding vehicle wraps or large format printing to your existing service?