How to design a vehicle wrap

By Richard Clark on Dec 7, 2021 4:02:56 PM

4 min read
How to design a vehicle wrap.

It’s always exciting to get your vehicle wrapped. Applying your brand to a car, van or fleet is a great way to extend the reach of your business. It’s hugely cost-effective too! But how should you get started? Coming up with an idea is one thing, but turning it into a practical wrap is quite another.

Read on to get the design stage of your project moving. This page explains how to design a vehicle wrap that makes a big impression and helps grow your brand for years to come.

How to design a vehicle wrap, step by step

Step 1: Consider your budget

The extent of your vehicle wrap design depends on whether you want graphics (like signwriting), a half wrap, or a full wrap. This will affect the cost of the wrap itself. A full wrap will be most expensive, as it covers the entire vehicle and uses the most materials.

Full wraps start at around £1,800, but those wanting to spend less on a van or car wrap design can have their logo and text printed for as little as £570.

Full wraps are best for major brands, events and promotional campaigns, but small companies often save money with graphics or half wraps and are totally satisfied.

Step 2: Look over your marketing material

Learning how to design a vehicle wrap.

Review your branding and see what you think. If your logo, straplines or colours are out of date, it’s worth refreshing them before getting too involved in the car or van wrap design process.

Intent matters too. Have a strong social media presence? Print your social handles on the side of the vehicle. Want people to call you? Include an up-to-date phone number. You can also have an email address, website, and a QR code.

Think carefully about what your vehicle wrap design should achieve, though. Don’t include social media handles if you don’t update those channels regularly.

Step 3: Brainstorm your ideas

At this early stage, check out competitors’ wraps and search online for the best wrap design examples. You may spot something you love and be struck by inspiration! You can then make a similar design that speaks for your brand, with its own unique flair.

Choose a patterned vinyl wrap, go with something clean and simple, or pick a jaw-dropping design that demands attention - it's entirely up to you!

You’ll also need to select a finish; be it gloss, metallic, matte, matte metallic, brushed metal, satin, carbon fibre, or mirrored chrome. See our guide on wrap material finishes for details on each option.

Step 4: Create your design using a vehicle template

Are you an experienced designer and a pro with Adobe Illustrator? If so, now’s the time to download a vehicle template. If not, you’ll need a graphic designer to manage this stage of the vehicle wrap design process for you.

A template used to design a van wrap.

A template provides a 2D scaled frame of your car or van, separated into front, rear, top and side sections. Your designer must be adept at using Illustrator (and skilled at grouping, masking, layers, and pathing), as they’ll need to apply each design element with millimetre accuracy.

They should also be able to walk you through any challenges, such as sizing concerns and letter placement, how the design will sit on the wings, and how a sliding door might affect the design when opened. They might also highlight any design issues you missed.

Step 5: Give the design to your wrapping company

You should now have a finished template that your wrapping company can work from. Once you hand this over, they can get to work printing the design and preparing your vehicle for the wrap itself. The whole process takes a couple of days on average.

Make sure you provide a layered file instead of an embedded one like a PDF. This is important because your wrap technicians might need to move the images around freely.

Bonus tips on vehicle design:

  • 2 or 3 vivid colours go a long way and can look classy
  • Go for a simple strapline, preferably in 7 words or less
  • A van is a great place for a short, bulleted list of services
  • Try sketching out your ideas and see which you prefer
  • For the sake of accuracy, don't rely on an amateur designer
  • Send your layered template file at 10% scale and 300dpi
  • Vector images can be scaled up without a drop in quality

The results of learning how to design a car wrap.

Ready to get your design on the road?

Now you know how to design a vehicle wrap, it’s time to get the help you need. Remember, only an expert could do all of this themselves. Thankfully, finding a designer you can trust needn’t be difficult. See the link below to discover how you can find someone with the right experience, who’s both fully equipped and passionate enough to make your visions a reality.

How to Find a Good Vehicle Wrap Designer

Richard Clark

Written by Richard Clark

Founder of Raccoon, a graphics company launched in 1992. Still working hard to help businesses and brands connect with their target market!