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Design Collisions

(March 2011) posted on Tue Feb 22, 2011

When the proof and reality collide.

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By Jared Smith

Recognizing that this area should be addressed early on is the first step. Explain the challenge and the possible solutions to your customer up front. We recommend to our customers that they only use this area as background or non-vital display. Since the vinyl must be stretched and pulled quite a bit, the image alignment is never guaranteed here. I also recommend that you produce a separate panel to be used exclusively for the top surface of any dually fender.

The corners of any vehicle can present a special type of challenge, too. To make this point, let's think about the corner of the vehicle where the sides meet the rear. For this example, let’s use a Ford Crown Victoria. Most installers will tell you that the cleanest way to install a full wrap on this vehicle is to pull the side panel around back and trim the vertical line at the trunk lid. This also implies that the same will happen where we pull the vinyl up over the side and trim along the horizontal line of the trunk. Seems easy enough. “So where is the problem?” you might ask. The problem occurs when the designer shows a rear view that does not take into account that some of the side vinyl will be visible from the rear, and vice versa.

This is true on modern bumpers, as well, where they cover the rear and as much as a foot or more on to both sides. If the side of the vehicle is to be blue and the rear is to be white, you must strategically decide early on how to handle the bumper-wrap design. Where does the blue stop? Where does the white begin? Keep these areas in mind when producing proofs, so you can illustrate the options and recommendations to your client. This is much better than a surprise during the install.

Three easy steps
These design collisions are easy to spot if you’re looking for them, so challenge your sales and design staff to become experts at avoiding these collisions. Here are a few tips:

• Don't send proofs to clients that are impossible to re-create in reality.
• Walk around the vehicle with the installer and think about where each panel will start and stop.
• If you plan out how the vinyl will land, it should be apparent if you could be in for a design collision.

Then, be professional and clear when you communicate the options to the client. The best option, of course, is to design away from these problems from the beginning. It will avoid confusion and dissatisfaction in the long run, and goes a long way to remind them that you are the vehicle-wrap expert.

Jared Smith is president of bluemedia (, a leading provider of design and printing for use in vehicle, large-format, and environmental applications, in Tempe, Arizona.