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SMARTwork: 10 Tips for Designing Vehicle Graphics

It's easy to imagine the most amazing looking vehicle graphics and how well it would work for you/your clients brand on paper, but the reality is not always so simple... To that end we have put together a quick checklist of things that you might want to consider when looking at vehicle graphics:

  1. Think about how legible the text will be when the vehicle is far away or moving. It's surprising how quickly the text and shapes can become confusing to the eye if the design is too busy or the content is too small!
  2. Consider where the joins between panels are. Is there text or logos right on the gap? Do you want to use the shape of the panels to influence the design; ie - logo on the front door and contact info on the other?
  3. Also consider the actual body shape. There may be really deep curves or humps on the bodywork which will likely distort anything placed over that section. Sometimes when you see the flat shape of a vehicle template it's easy to misunderstand the shape, so it's always worth checking the shape of the vehicle from photos, or even better the real thing!
  4. Don't forget to leave enough space between elements. Partially linked to #1 above, if you cram your logo too close to the wheel arch or put your web address around a headlight, it will advesely affect the overall design (probably!).
  5. Don't forget it's still a vehicle. Remember that graphics toward the bottom of the vehicle will be the first to get covered in mud (this is Scotland after all). Try to keep important information high. Graphics placed lower will get dirty quicker, and also get scratched or damaged in the same way as the painwork would.
  6. Remember to allow good visibility out of the windows. There's a tendency to want to put information on the windows, particularly on smaller cars where useable space is at a premium. But remember, the driver will still need good visibility to allow them to drive safely! There are plenty of clever products including one way vinyl which can help create clever designs without affecting the visibility too much, and we can help advise on that if required.
  7. Think about how these graphics are actually going to be produced. If you want to put drop shadows or faded effects around your lettering, we will basically have to produce the graphics as giant stickers to print the effects you see on screen. Consider whether you want your car to look like it is covered in oversized bumper stickers.
  8. Avoid photographs. Whilst it's not difficult to print photographs and apply them to a vehicle, a lot of the time the end result can look pretty poor. If you really want to include images, consider how they will be framed and again, whther or not it's clear what the photo is as the vehicle passes by.
  9. Experiment with colours and textures. Not necessarily an option for the budget end of the market, but there is a massive range of speciality films for changing the colour of all or part of a vehicle, as well as textured materials to give the effect of leather, carbon fibre or brushed metal finishes! Used in combination, you can create some stunning designs...
  10. Budget! Before you get carried away with a car wrapped to look like a tropical beach paradise, consider the costs involved. Vechicle graphics can go from £50 for some black lettering on the side of your Punto, up into the thousands to wrap a van in long term, durable outdoor photographic vinyl with speciality textured laminate... Work out what you can afford to spend on the vehicle before you get too far on with the project.


Want to know more? Check out these sites for some of the more technical aspects of vehicle graphics:

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