Vehicle Wraps: Design Tips and Considerations

Vehicle wraps are graphics printed on vinyl that are designed to partially or completely cover different types of vehicles like buses, cars, trains, trucks, vans, and even helicopters. As a graphic designer, you can transform anything that rolls either into a ride that is worthy of being featured in car magazines, or a marketing machine on wheels. Since automotives are meant to be driven, your design will be showcased on the road and can be seen by thousands of people while the vehicle is cruising and even while parked.

Vehicle art used to be done by paint, which is expensive and time-consuming. The advancements in large format printing technology have made it possible to easily create works of art without using paint. Well-designed and properly-installed vehicle wraps can achieve the same look provided by paint. When properly maintained, these graphics can last up to five years and protect the original paint job of the vehicle.


Designing Vehicle Wraps

If you are preparing to create your first wrap, here are some design tips and considerations:

Do Your Research

Check out classic vehicle art designs for inspiration. Browse the sites of top graphic companies that specialize in wrapping vehicles so you can familiarize yourself with the process. Call the printers in your area to learn about their requirements.

Preparing Your Vehicle Outline

After choosing a vehicle model that you want to wrap, go online to check if you can find existing vehicle templates. If you are unable to find any, you need to take pictures of the vehicle and measure the dimensions. Use a vector graphics editor like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, which allow you to create designs that you can scale without losing clarity. After taking a good side profile picture of the vehicle, bring the photograph into Illustrator or Photoshop.

Designing Your Wrap

Sketch a few ideas first before jumping straight into your computer. It would help if you print several thumbnailed copies of your vehicle so you can visualize your design better. After finishing a couple of designs, use Illustrator or Photoshop to create your drafts.

Considerations for Advertisements

If you are designing vehicle wraps for advertising purposes, keep the message simple because the ad is basically a moving signage.

Avoid making the design too text heavy and include only the most important details like the business name, contact information, and a tag line. Use a font that is readable while the vehicle is moving. Make the message stand out by carefully choosing your color scheme. The images you choose should support the message.

Recreating to Scale and Printing Preparations

Once you are done with your mockups, create it to scale on your outlined version and send it to your printer, who will then create a 2D format of your design that is ready for printing.

Installing the Vehicle Wraps

After printing your design, you can apply the wraps yourself or ask the printer’s installer to do it for you. Applying wraps is simple if you are good with your hands and you will learn how to do it by watching the installer.


I’m Kaycee Mabborang, I write for Arete Digital Imaging a leading large format printing company that provides vehicle wraps, architectural wraps, and banner printing services. I have been producing top quality content at a very quick pace since 2007.


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