I want to take you through my process of creating a professional vehicle wrap from design to print ready files.
Step 1: Know your client’s audience and key goals
Here are a couple of reasons why wrapping a vehicle is great exposure for your client's business:
- shows your clients creativity and brand personality all around town
- reinforces their brand’s professionalism and or luxury when done clean and efficiently
- brings up new ideas - “hmmm we should really look into an electric car…etc."
- discounts/offers that inspire action, etc.
Ask your clients questions to define their goals, for example is the main purpose to gain exposure? Or will this be parked in front of clients homes/businesses as their first exposure to your company? Be prepared to push back on loading up the design with too many screaming selling points. (keeping it away from looking like a “penny saver” ad)
Step 2: Know your clients brand and gather assets
This vehicle wrap will be an extension of their marketing and current customer touch-points, all using their current brand guidelines- so review their current site, collateral, and other graphics. This might be a chance for you to shine and show them what their brand can look like with a new streamlined layout.
Step 3: Printing constraints
Understand the size constraints and printing specs before you start laying out your vehicle template. You may or may not be involved in finding the actual printer- some clients already have their own vendors. So when using their print vendor - ask for their printing specs. When choosing a printer for your client- it probably will be based upon price so shop around- or quality- either way make sure you see examples of their current work and ask about any details necessary to maximize your design and client needs.
- I like to ask about printing needs before I get started so when I gather content from the client or start my own designs I know what size resolution to use. I also personally believe you should try and stick to clean vector based graphics so the design is scalable and will not pixelate unless the client has professionally taken photos.
- Make sure you know where the vehicle’s seams, doors, windows and breaking points are in the vehicle before you layout your design comps.
- Check the vehicles manufacture website for exact model specs or other vehicle views that will help you make a tempalte- for example my client has 2 Ford vans so I found this helpful site that uploads my design and applies it automatically- pretty nice! http://www.fordcommercialgraphics.com/ Check out this site additional templates that might work: http://mr-clipart.com/eu/ctcinfo.php
Here is the vehicle my client would like to see wrapped:
Step 4: Start gathering ideas
- Keep it simple and clean
- People do not read, so a tagline contact info and/or website URL- thats it!
- Less is more
- A little mystery goes a long way;)
- Humor never hurts (think about all those people just sitting in traffic needing a reason to laugh so they don’t have road rage!)
- Panel it out- the sides do not have to repeat on back and vice versa
Examples of some well done vehicle wraps:
Step 5: Use your photoshop skills and really layout out your designs
- Every client needs to see to believe so show them exactly how it should look at every angle, this will not only allow them to approve your graphics faster but give the printer valuable views when executing your designs
Example of my design comps to our client:
Client: Evolution Plants | They specialize in high-end designs of tropical and exotic plants for professional indoor environments (spas, hotels, restaurants, etc) They drive around everywhere and wanted their brand to be recognized as delivering a burst of magic and life that people need around them. We went back and forth from using the clients real imagery of actual displays or using a feeling based illustration...
Final selection for Evolution Plants:
Client: Skylar’s Home and Patio | A home and patio furniture store that combines great customer service with a creative take on the Southern California home lifestyle. They were growing and it was time to elevate their brand to the level and vision of their owner. We did a complete rebrand - making sure every touchpoint of their brand and identity was executed with consistency.
Step 6: Print ready files
Every printer is different. Sometimes they have a really great production team that can take your file and make miracles happen when you forgot to change an image to the correct color mode or if a piece of artwork is off just a tad. I personally still want to touch everything if there are changes. I only allow certain printers I have worked with and known for years to make certain changes because I know and trust them. However there are printers that are not good with graphic programs and do not have the high level print software so you will need to make sure all elements are perfect. Here are some tips on setting up print ready files:
- Have your client sign off on the artwork- (maybe another given but has to be said) make sure all website URL’s are correct, phone numbers and no mis spelled words! Your client will miss things and even though its not your fault if they sign off and approve- its MORE professional if your work was checked FIRST by you, because ultimately you should always have your clients back. And either way it DOES look bad on you in the end.
- Set your document color mode based upon printer’s needs- CMYK or RGB (there are some printers that use large digital based printers)
- One way to create the design to scale is to use 1:10 ratio - For example the Skylar’s logo below was all vector so I scaled it down to the correct ratio and the printer said he would adjust as needed. I also made sure to show them how the final truck looked so they matched it.
- Set the document ppi to 720 or ask what they prefer sometimes it can be lower if the final output size is larger
- Use high resolution photos images (always make sure your fonts and images are allowed for commercial use or given to you from your client)
- Convert all fonts to outlines
- Label and organize each part into separate layers and make sure that each graphic has it’s own sublayer (this can be done based upon printer’s needs)
- Add bleeds according to printer’s specs - I personally would layout each file in panels (if that was good for the printer) For example, not one long wrap but driver side panel, passenger side panel, back, front, etc.
Step 7: Follow up and promote your work
Always follow up with your client after final delivery - they usually are super happy when they see their logo nice and big from a project well executed. When you do follow up, always ask if there is anything more you can do to help promote their brand. Finally, keep a copy of your artwork along with an image of the real deal for further promotions and portfolio needs.
Please note: after writing this post I realized the VERY first thing you should do and I am sorry this might be obvious but for detail’s sake, please put the basis of your process, the amt. of comps/changes, payment amount, and the due date into a proposal with terms protecting you and your design work. ;)
I reviewed this post for ideas and some of their thoughts here are good to review: https://99designs.com/designer-blog/2014/10/06/vehicle-wrap-design-tips/
Other information about the actual vehicle wrap process can be found here: http://northwestautosalon.com/vehicle_wraps_faq/