Good Wrap Design is Important


If you are national wrap installer then it is likely you are listed on WrapperMapper and you install vinyl graphics on some nice new rides. The typical wrap installer is patient, detail oriented and can be trusted to hold a butane torch near a new R8.  Of course, Zen-like installation skills only go as far as the creativity of your wrap design.  So, how do you get good art for your customers?

Most wrap jobs are for commercial purposes.  You spot up the logo, the URL and a picture of the product.  Sounds easy right…?  Yeah, not so much.  A car is not a billboard or a piece of paper.  It has 2 sides, front back, a hood and a top.  So, from an art perspective you are designing a 3D project using 2D assets.  This 3D vehicle will be viewed from 8 angles at varying speeds.  The experience of seeing the car is the whole deal so whether the message is to “Eat at Joe’s”, “Drink this Water” or “We kill bugs” we have to help them catch eyeballs and create an impression.

Most people reading this are installers, not necessarily graphic designers.  If you aspire to be to be a master artist, you need to have a portfolio that is so strong you have no problem showing it to anybody at any time.  That means having at least 5000 hours (minimum) drawing time under your belt and a website that reflects your experience.  Next, learn Illustrator and PhotoShop so you can translate your ideas into print ready art.  Now the hardest part, you need to pick your customer’s brain to understand how to deliver their message effectively on the vehicle that is provided.

Here’s how I go about designing for a car.  A list and an example are a great place to start. What’s important to you? Who’s car do you like? What are some examples of your current brand?  What colors do you like?  Once you have all the information, get a picture of the car.   Here’s the cool method that an artist can use to design a ride.   As a traditional artist I like to draw in loose strokes in charcoal on paper.  Free form representations that follow the lines and curves that today’s cars have built in.  Using the film we have today we can use designs to accentuate the subtleties in cars, then take it off when the lease is over.

Many of you have an iPad. What you don’t know is that for about $30 you can set your self up to import a picture of a car and draw over the top of it with your iPad in a layer.  As an example, go to  You will see a design called “Scribble” designed for the Hyundai Elantra.  The short story behind the design is that I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago for a conference.  At that time I knew that I needed to get a new car so I took some pictures of a White Elantra in a parking lot with my iPad.  I imported the picture making a scribble which I then e-mailed to myself.  Later, after realizing how interesting my quick sketch looked, I re-drew it in vector right over my sketch in Illustrator.  We are wrapping the car this week to complete the process.

Here’s what you need if you want to sketch a design using your iPad.

• Sketch Club – I know the price is high, but you need the “Sketch Club” app from the App Store. It costs $2.99. This is great software that allows you to import a photo from your iPad library, then draw in layers using a stylus.

• Stylus – This is a stylus that I really like for drawing, the Musemee Notier V2. Amazon $16.99.

• A QwickDraw Microfiber Cleaner – a QwickDraw hooks around your pinky and allows drawing without “screen bounce”. $12 (free shipping)

The idea is give certified MapperWrappers the precise tools they need to install an eye-catching visual accent package on a specific car.  My goal is to have a design that takes about an hour a side to put on. I am starting with the Elantra, next will be the Honda Civic and the Hyundai Veloster. designs and prepares art for automotive wraps. If your internal Michael Angelo or Di Vinci isn’t kicking in you can hire someone to do it for you.   You can get design work and film sent to you in a tube from ProSign&Graphics or Extreme Autowerks at a reasonable price.

Written By:  Mike Browne at – Please contact me if you have tablet art or design questions.