Signs of the Times - February 2013 - (Page 32)
By Theresa Jackson
Theresa Jackson operates Orchard View Color (Escondido, CA) and has more
than 20 years’ experience in prepress, graphic design, color management
and photography. Email her at Theresa@orchardviewcolor.com
How to Design a Vehicle Wrap in Adobe® Illustrator®
You have much to consider.
Have youmakingthe photo of arounds? Oncewrapped
side-slider door covers the second through fifth letters
of Starbucks, which changes the message to a disparaging
one. If the image is real and not Photoshopped, I’m
sure the designer feels awful. Clearly, there is much to
consider when designing a vehicle wrap.
Where to start
Purchase a professionally created vehicle template and
confirm its accuracy by measuring the actual vehicle.
If needed, vector-based templates can easily be adjusted
to fit your vehicle. Also, take same-view reference
photos of the vehicle.
Think of the vehicle as a box with flat panels – four
sides and a top. Each panel gets an independent
design as a separate document.
Templates are provided at a 1/20 scale factor. Scale
the template 500% for ¼ scale.
Copy each view from the template; paste it into a
new document and scale up. Be sure to constrain the
height and width. A completed wrap design will have
four to six layouts – driver side, passenger side, back
view, front bumper, hood and top – depending on
how much coverage the design specifies.
Before starting, determine if your client wants printed,
perforated-vinyl window covering. “Perf” has a different
– slightly ghosted – outside appearance. Warn your
Preplanning can help avoid unpleasant surprises.
32 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / FEBRUARY 2013 / www.signweb.com
Big, bold, clean designs are best seen and read at
speed, but some buyers want details for parking-lot
views. Know your customer’s preference before you
start the design.
Various vehicle panels, especially the bottom rocker,
may not be level with the ground. Other body contours
may not square to side trim and windows. Such situations
make it difficult to realize the correct horizontal placement for your graphics, so explore alternatives – an
angle above the rear wheel well, for example.
Large letters – 8 in. high or more – will retain
legibility if chunks are missing; for example, text that
integrates vehicle door handles. Small letters become
lost as they cross over window seams or doorjambs.
Designing in 2D while thinking in 3D
For critical graphics, provide at least 2 in. of breathing
room in all directions, and add at least 6 in. of extra
graphics on all sides of the template.
Determine where the side graphics will meet the
front and back graphics. Also, because wrap installers
prefer to seam graphics between the quarter panel and
the bumper, which often aligns to the vehicle’s front
and rear, I suggest your side graphics partially wrap
around such corners. Ensure that your design accommodates the extra length.
Avoid patterned designs or linear graphics where
the sides meet at the front, back and hood. This adds
unnecessary complexity for yourself, as well as the
Working with images
Combine all bitmap graphics in a new Photoshop®
document. The Photoshop document height and width
matches the Illustrator layout document size (¼ scale
of the vehicle dimensions), and the resolution should
be between 150 and 300 ppi.
150 ppi may seem low, but, in most cases, it RIPs
and prints great, especially if the design elements
don’t include photographs. The key is to keep the
vector graphics as a vector, but use Photoshop for
background vignettes, patterns, textures, drop shadows
and glows. (If the design includes photographs, you
may want to increase the resolution.)
Keep all text and logos in Illustrator®.
Copy and paste the ¼-scale template into your newly
created Photoshop document. Make sure it pastes in at
100% by having the Move tool selected and checking
the transform measurements in the Options bar. Rename
the template layer FPO, e.g., “for position only”.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - February 2013
Signs of the Times - February 2013
Sign Museum News
Dressed to Impress
Uniqlo’s In-store Digital Signage
Pursuing a Different Rout
Word on the Street Signs
Signs of the Times - February 2013