I am privileged to work on a team with seven talented designers. I’m not a designer, I’m the copy person, but I’ve been exposed to them enough to know what they do is special. Designing a three-dimensional graphic takes forethought, precision, and attention to detail. I remember a potential sponsor for an Indy car whose product came packaged in a bottle. Their creative team sent us a beautiful design for the race car with the bottle on the nose. Their design shared every view of the race car. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work. Tracey White, the manager of our design team, showed me by using a 3D template how the design would appear on the car. You couldn’t tell it was a bottle. A total redesign was called for; it needed our teams touch. With vehicle graphic design—there’s more than meets the eye.
Start with Accurate Measurements
Although templates are available for most vehicles, they don’t always share all the information needed. Sometimes only measuring the vehicle will produce accurate information. When working with a template, a key consideration is matching the template to the vehicle. For example, all Ford F150’s aren’t alike, there are long beds, and short beds, and crew cabs, and more.
Think in 3 Dimensions
Do you want redundant information on the sides and back such as your phone number and website URL? Does the photo wrap from the rear of the vehicle to the sides? What will the design look like if the windows are rolled down or the door is opened? Will the door seams or gas cap fall in the middle of text?
Picture the Vehicle on the Road
Imagine the design travelling on the highway at 65 MPH. How would it look? Design it too busy, and it’s a blur. If the text is too small, no one will be able to read it. Simplicity is key when it comes to text on a vehicle graphic. A single call to action and contact information is usually enough.
Use High Resolution Images
Vehicle graphics requires high resolution photos. Something found on a Google image search will not work for a project as large as a vehicle. Use vector graphics whenever possible.
Note what can’t be Covered
Adhesive vinyls will not adhere to certain materials, for example, several types of plastics and some metals. Local ordinances may prohibit covering part or all areas of vehicle glass.
The Best Practice for Vehicle Design
The best practice is to hire an experienced vehicle graphics designer. Most reputable vehicle graphics providers, including us, offer design. I began this post with a story about an Indy car design fail. The design was submitted by an advertising agency, they were experienced designers and they were good at it. However, they weren’t experienced in vehicle graphic design. There’s a big difference. If you’re considering a car or truck wrap design—hire a pro. We’d be happy to cover any questions you may have contact us.