Designing a vehicle wrap is more complex than designing other marketing materials because you’re designing a much larger piece, in 3 dimensions, that will be seen only for a brief time while moving. This makes every decision critical.
Everything from software to messaging to image selection play a critical role, and a single poor choice can render an otherwise perfect vehicle wrap useless.
MS Paint isn’t going to cut it here—you need to use professional-grade design software. The industry standard for vehicle wrap design is Adobe Illustrator and/or Photoshop, but there are open source (AKA: free) alternatives, including Gimp for raster images, and Inkscape for vector images.
Start with large, high-resolution images because they will need to be at least 100dpi at full size. For example, a 10” wide image at 300dpi can only be scaled up to about 30” wide at 100dpi—further scaling will usually cause a loss of image quality.
It’s also important start with the proper image type in the vehicle wrap design process. Photographic images should start as a .jpg, while text, logos, and QR codes should start as vector files, such as an .eps, .ai, or .pdf. If you’re designing your wrap in Photoshop, you can place vector images into your file and they will retain the ability to scale without losing image quality.
Your final file should have, at a minimum, a 4” bleed to ensure complete coverage as the wrap is installed around the curves of your vehicle.
Choose clear, simple, sans serif fonts to ensure legibility.
Before sending your final file to the vehicle wrap company to be printed, you should convert any live fonts to outlines. You can do this in Illustrator by selecting Create Outlines from the type menu, or in Photoshop right clicking on the type layer and then clicking Rasterize Type.
Most people will only see your wrap for 10 seconds or less, and it will usually be while moving, so keep it simple. Save the long message for your brochure. At most, your wrap should contain your company name and/or logo, a tagline or call to action, phone number, and QR code.
A QR code is the black and white pixelated square you’ve probably seen on various marketing materials, especially outdoor media, and it makes it easy to pull up a URL without typing a single key.
You can find dozens of free QR scanner apps for both iOS and Android. They utilize the camera on your smartphone, so all you need to do it open the app, point the phone at a QR code, and the app decodes it and opens the URL. It’s even safe to do while driving because you don’t have to type anything,
Simply use a QR code generator to create your QR code. It’s important to choose an EPS or PDF because they are scalable, which enables you to make it large enough without becoming blurry.