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Vehicle Wrap

Project Description
Vehicle wraps have become one of the most popular ways of attracting attention and advertising for a large variety of design and advertising clients today. New technologies and materials allow for highly detailed and colorful graphics to wrap entire trucks, vans and virtually all vehicles making them into mobile billboards carrying advertising messages where ever they go. Each student will choose a client and design a vehicle wrap that will communicate a desired message or reinforce the client image to the general public. The type of vehicle is open and should be appropriate for the chosen client.
Start by thoroughly researching your chosen client. Make note of existing logos, images and styles that would be appropriate for a successful design solution. Begin the design process by brainstorming to arrive at a great concept. Choose an appropriate type of vehicle i.e. delivery van, truck, bus, boat or train. Shoot photos of your chosen vehicle and start the process with thumbnails. Select the best solutions and transfer those to roughs. Take your best rough to the computer for final output. Prepare a mounted comp for client approval and a completed digital file for printing. We will be using the recommended file format for output from our guest printer. Also, include a press quality PDF file and your original digital software file, all burned on a CD.
1.  Finished high comp, show all sides or views of the vehicle. Mount and flap all presentation materials.
2.  All process and research organized in booklet format, written justification for concepts, colors and applications.
3.  CD with all required digital files for printing.

Personal Commentary

If you asked several advertising agencies what the best media was for advertising you probably would start a huge debate about the strengths and weaknesses between television, radio and print. There would probably be a few forward thinking people who would throw digital media into the mix, touting that it was the advertising media of the now generation and all the others were dead or dying. The truth is there is no single “best” media for advertising and most advertising professionals would quickly point out that the best approach is a carefully planned combination of advertising based on the individual needs of each client. I also agree but the vehicle wrap certainly offers a “big bang for the buck!” Most of the graphic designers I know look at the vehicle wrap as some sort of “ugly red-headed step child” that is a close cousin to tasteless grocery store newspaper ads with 27 fonts, star bursts and absolutely NO white space to let the viewers eyes rest or just stop bleeding. It’s true, most of the vehicle wraps you see locally are exactly that, an explosion of tasteless Photoshop tricks that are more like a distraction on wheels than effective advertising. Don’t blame the media. . . it’s just bad design. Also, don’t blame the sign designers either, most of the bad design is driven by clients. “I want flying bricks, floating cows, splintering 2×4’s, tornadoes and oh yeah, can you give it all a dragon scale texture with a little fire.” Our job as designers is to take this powerful media and divert the train wreck and turn it into the powerful message delivering vehicle it can be.

This is the second year I have assigned this project. I have been able to partner each year with a local sign shop that specializes in vehicle wraps. I owe a huge THANK YOU to Monster Graphx and Justin Barr. Justin is a good friend and former student and most of the methods of creating a template for this project are what he uses on a daily basis at Monster Graphx. Quite frankly, I was disappointed in the results last year and it seems we are having a lot of difficulty getting this project going this year. So. . . . get off your butts and get going!

Tip – Use the unique properties of the media. Last year, I think everyone tried to simplify their designs to the point they destroyed the visual uniqueness of the vehicle wrap media. Many of the solutions could have been cut vinyl letters. The unique thing about a wrap is the fact it is produced by printing on a wide format printer. This technique allows for a tremendous amount of subtle effects and detail. Also, gradients, color merges and photo realistic textures are easily obtainable, so use them.

Justin’s method for creating an accurate template for any vehicle is also a great aid in the design process as well as the production of workable pre-press files. Some of you are still having problems with this part of the assignment so let’s go over it again.

Start by taking photographs of the vehicle you want to wrap. White vehicles are the easiest to work with to produce your finished comps. Black vehicles are the easiest to actually wrap because the dark color hides the edges as the vinyl wraps around each section of the vehicle. If you don’t have access to a vehicle for photographs go to a dealership and ask if you can take pictures on their lot. You should be able to get good photos of almost any kind of car, truck or van. Shoot a side view, back view and front view. Try and get as straight a view as possible. Now, take measurements from each view that you can re-measure in the photo. From the side view a measurement from the front wheel well to the back wheel well works well. Write these measurements down you will need them later. Next open your photos in Photoshop. In your tool bar select the ruler tool (see photo).

ruler tool

Using the Ruler Tool, measure the same element in the photo that you measured on the actual vehicle. Check your Info window for the exact measurement.

In this case the measurement is L: 3.652″. Take your original measurement of the vehicle, in this case let’s say from wheel well to wheel well measured 86″. Divide the original measurement by the photo measurement. 86÷3.625=23.5487404162103. This number represents the percentage of enlargement necessary to make the photo actual size. Because it is a percentage you must move the decimal point two number to the right. This gives you 2354.87404162103 percent. Next open the Image Size window, change the pixel dimensions window from pixels to percentage and enter in your new percentage number in both the width and the height windows. Now change the resolution to 72 and hit return.

You now have an image that is actual size. Check  your original wheel well measurement again, it should be very close to your original measurement. This Photoshop file will now serve as both your template and your final pre-press document. Copy the background layer and start creating a path around the vehicle that will be wrapped with the pen tool. Make the path into a selection and delete. Create new layers between this layer and the background layer to build your design in.