graphic designer working

Tips for Designing a Vehicle Wrap

Vehicle wraps are a fun, unique, and striking way of advertising your brand. Even if the vehicle wrap is not meant for advertising purposes, it can still stand out and turn heads. No matter how you decide to use a vehicle wrap, it will get noticed! Creating a design for a commercial vehicle wrap can be daunting, but as long as you pay attention to details and keep the design simple, you’ll have a great mobile advertisement!

design inspiration sources

Start by Looking for Vehicle Wrap Design Inspiration

The most difficult part of starting a vehicle wrap design is at the beginning. You might start out with a very broad design idea, but when there are too many styles and ideas to work from, you might get overwhelmed with everything that’s out there. Consult with the vast bank of design inspiration that is the internet. A couple of great places to check out are Tumblr and Pinterest. The one catch with searching for design inspiration on the internet, however, is the temptation to plagiarize another vehicle wrap design. Make sure that you’re looking for inspiration, not a completed design made by another designer.

ugh coffee cup

Don’t Hesitate to Purchase Design Elements

If you get stuck on a design or are unhappy with the way it’s looking, there’s no shame in purchasing a pre-made stock illustration to use for an eye-catching background. When you purchase a royalty-free stock graphic you will be able to use it for all your business’s marketing assets. Vehicle wraps are large-format digitally printed over-sized stickers, so ensure that your print will look clean and crisp by buying vector-based graphics only. High-resolution photos will work but will result in a very large file which slows the processing time down when the wrap is being printed.

scaled pickup truck template

Work from a Scaled-down Vehicle Template

Any trust-worthy, reputable, experienced sign company will gladly send you or your designer a vector vehicle template to create a vehicle wrap design. They will most likely send it to you for free if you have them print and install the vehicle wrap. Obviously, working from a template will ensure that the important elements of the design are not impeded with door handles or plastic rocker panels. One more tip for working from a template is to make sure that it is accurate to the actual vehicle that will be wrapped. Measure the wheelbase (the measurement from the center or the front wheels to the back wheels), measure the height and width of the vehicle, and the windows.

person drawing a design

When in Doubt, Keep it Simple!

Take it or leave it, but the most effective vehicle wraps are the ones with the simplest designs. “Keeping the design simple” means that you’re not distracting from your main product or service that you offer. A vehicle wrap design that is too busy with lots of text and imagery will almost always be overlooked and ignored. Everyone has different opinions and preferences, but an advertising vehicle wrap should not be an extension of what you think looks good (it’s for marketing your business). Keep the design simple, straight-forward, and eye-catching and that’s it!

abstract sign design - Connecting Signs

Sign Design Basics

Graphic design is the process of communicating and problem solving using visual symbols, typography, photography, illustration, and layout principles. Graphic design for signage is purely functional as each sign is meant for a specific purpose. Some signs are created specifically for advertising purposes and some are created to answer frequently asked questions. If you’re interested in designing your own signs, there are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind. The following points about sign design are based on the past experiences of working with multiple businesses, clients, and other graphic designers.

Appreciate Your Audience

clapping hands

Before you even start your sign design, put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Understand that they may not be as informed as you about your business so you may need to consider simplifying your sign design. Consider how your sign will look to someone who has no idea what your business does. How do you ensure that your message is understood? Be specific, be direct, and always keep it simple! Another important part of understanding your audience is knowing how they will be viewing your sign. Will they be driving past your sign at 75 MPH on the highway? That means that your audience will have one or two seconds to understand your message so plan your design accordingly.

Pick the Right Type of File

typing hands

The most frequently asked question from clients looking to send their own artwork is: “What type of file do you prefer?”. The preferred file-type is almost always a .PDF but it sometimes depends on what type of sign the client is ordering. If you’re using a software program to create your artwork, make sure you’re using a professional design tool like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Further, understanding the difference between raster and vector graphics is vital especially for large format digitally printed signs.

Understand the Difference Between Raster and Vector Graphicsraster vs vector logo

 

Raster graphics are images that cannot be enlarged without pixelation occurring. They can be edited with special software applications like Adobe Photoshop, but you will need to have a good understanding of how resolution works. Raster graphics are usually small files that are ideal for photographic prints and website imagery. Vector graphics are graphics that are defined shapes with lines and points. Vector graphics can be enlarged to any size and printed without any trouble. Vector-based graphics are also the only way to create cut vinyl decals as the digital plotter needs to read the lines and points within the file to plot them out onto the sheet of vinyl.

Use Contrasting Colors

colorful photo

Ensure that your message is clear and attracts attention by using contrasting colors for the background and foreground. From our learned experience, the best color combinations for signage is a black background and white text or white background and black text. The worst color combinations are lightly-hued text on a lightly-hued background or dark-tinted text on a dark background. Color theory explains how primary colors mix together to create secondary colors, and how different combinations of those colors become intermediate colors. Understanding color theory, color schemes, and how colors affect people psychologically is a good idea if you’re designing multiple signs that need to have a cohesive design.

Choose Easy to Read Fonts

wooden letter stamps

Another important part of sign design is selecting the appropriate font to feature your text in. The general rule is to keep the number of fonts to a minimum and to not use more than two different fonts in one design. Sans Serif fonts are easier to read than Serif fonts when it comes to signage; this is why highway signage always features sans serif fonts. Consider the hierarchy of information in your sign. What do you want your audience to do if they need your product or service? Having a bold, upper case call-to-action could be the best way to get them to take a desired action.

Utilize Negative Space

beach scene

Too much text, photos, and graphics will actually deter people from your advertisement. It might seem like a good idea to include as much information as possible on a sign, but that can lead to a cluttered design which overwhelms the viewer and leads to information being overlooked or ignored. Negative space (intentional blank space) in a sign design layout helps the reader understand the message being communicated by singling out vital information and giving the reader’s eyes a break.

Always be Aware of the Rules

discussion hands

Some types of signs, like ADA restroom signs, are required for public and commercial spaces. There are a lot of rules for the design of interior ADA signs, like the letter height and pictogram design. Ensure that your signs are compliant by following ADA sign guidelines. Further, be aware of the local sign code for large exterior signs, like illuminated channel letters, to ensure that you don’t waste money by buying a non-compliant sign that will be removed (at your cost).

 

Hallway Wall Graphics - Connecting Signs

Wall Wraps

Endless Possibilities with Wall Wraps

The concept of wrapping a vehicle can be applied to virtually almost any flat surface. An advantage of wrapping versus painting is that it is not a long-term commitment. As long as your wrap is taken care of, you can look forward to about ten years of effective advertising (less if your wrap is exposed to the weather or sun). Wall wraps offer a unique opportunity to advertise your brand or message. Premium wrap film technology allows for us to wrap over textured surfaces like CMU or brick walls. Wall wraps can add interest to a boring space or they can inform your audience.

Wall wraps can be laid on any textured surface

Wall mural project

Modern vinyl manufacturing has progressed so far and quickly from where it began. Textured vinyl film is a very classy and elegant example of what is possible today. Architectural films are made purely for interior design purposes. With finishes like: marble, brushed metal, wood, carbon fiber, dry-erase, stone, silk, leather, and much more, you’re sure to find the perfect wall wrap vinyl for your project. Seriously, these are simple and amazing alternatives to expensive materials that might not fit within your budget. It’s shocking how well these architectural films can transform a space!

Digital printing technology allows for virtually anything to be displayed on your walls, desks, or windows. It’s important to work with a graphic designer who knows how to create good vector art. A professional photographer can also be a vital resource to your wall wrap design if you’re interested in displaying photographs or photo-realistic illustrations. The other element to a successful wall wrap is to partner with a professional installer. There’s nothing more frustrating then having yards and yards of vinyl ready to install and then an unforeseen issue arises at the last second! All in all, it’s best to always have a good team to work with.

Wall Wraps from Connecting Signs in Fort Collins, CO

Meeting room wall mural

If you’re stuck looking for a professional and experienced partner to help get your project off the ground, then look no further! Connecting Signs is equipped to help guide you through all of your wall wrap needs. Give us a call today or click here to get started!

school flag from coneecting signs in fort collins - Connecting Signs

School Flag Fort Collins

Schools will usually have a mascot that represents the school in the community and at events.  The mascot is displayed in lots of different ways – murals, banners, and a school flag.

colorful pixels - Connecting Signs

Sign Design – Raster vs. Vector Art & Resolution

Have you ever tried designing something on the computer? It’s not as easy as you would think! Graphic designing has come so far from hand-drawn thumbnail sketches. Sketching out your ideas on a piece of paper is simple and un-constricting. However, if you want to transfer than design to the computer so you can further manipulate the artwork, you must understand the program you’re working in. The most basic way to get your design on the computer is to simply scan it or take a picture with your phone (smart phone) and upload onto your computer. Modern sign design is like this, except the graphic designer needs to be able to edit and manipulate every element of the design. Customers who already have artwork (for example: photos, logos, text) can send these files to the designer who can then use their skills and knowledge to adjust your artwork and design your sign or vehicle wrap.

 

Understanding Vector and Raster Artwork

Consider the size of a business card. Now think about the size of a billboard. There is a huge difference in size between those two products. The artwork (size) for the business card cannot possibly work for the billboard. That has everything to do with the format the artwork in the file. Vector artwork (a term known very well by graphic designers) is the best to work with in large-scale printing because it can it be used for small-scale printing and large-scale printing. Vector artwork is created using special software programs. Vector art is made of points and lines; elements that scale to any size without losing clarity. Vector artwork is ideal and necessary for large-format printing. On the other hand, Raster artwork is made of tiny squares called pixels. Any image you look at on a screen (your phone, television or computer monitor) is a raster graphic. Raster graphics can absolutely work for large-format printing, but the image must be high resolution. Here’s a graphic to help understand vector vs. raster artwork:

 

Vector vs. Raster Graphics

Vector vs. Raster Graphics

Understanding Resolution

Raster artwork is made of tiny squares called pixels. Pixels are like puzzle pieces, that, when arranged correctly and put together make a picture. You can see individual pixels if you zoom in as close as possible in an image. Resolution is the term used to explain how many pixels make up an image. Low resolution means that the image you’re looking at has less pixels per square inch. High resolution means that the image has more pixels per inch. It’s important to know, however, that you can’t simply convert a low-resolution image to a high-resolution image. Only high-resolution can be converted to low-resolution, not low to high. Low resolution images are ideal for designing for a screen (like a website) or small-format printing (like business cards). High resolution images mean a larger file, but they are necessary for large-format printing.

Vector vs. Raster

Image Zoomed in to show pixels

Interior Wall Graphics for Sporting Arena

WallGraphics

School is officially back in session! We’ve worked with some great schools; from Elementary schools to Collegiate institutions. Colorado State University is one that we’ve established a great relationship with. We were really excited to help them with the new wall and window graphics in the Moby Arena. This arena is where CSU holds their indoor sporting events. It’s also a hub of activity in the Summer. Plenty of eyes are on the athletes, but the walls needed a refreshment of eye-catching graphics!

WallGraphicsHall

Digitally printed wall graphics have become more popular over the years, as well as a less expensive alternative to hand-painted murals. The freedom to print whatever you want is also an advantage of digitally printed graphics. The possibilities are endless, but we still have to be aware of the issues involved with wall graphics. The wall itself being one major variables in the process.

When you apply vinyl to painted surfaces, you need to know that some paint dries and cures differently across the spectrum of finishes and brands. Some finishes are not ideal to apply vinyl to, while some assist in the adhesion of the graphic to the surface. Drywall also comes in a variety of textures. If the wall has any texture (an example of this is the “orange peel” finish that is a feature of most indoor walls), then premium vinyl is the only option for ensuring longevity. But, even then, the painted surface below the vinyl needs to have been out-gassed and fully cured. Enamel paint is the best kind of paint for wall graphics, while latex paint needs a lot of time to fully cure. These are the problems that we must always consider when we’re contacted for wall graphics.

WallGraphicsFootballHall

There’s also many finishing options for the actual vinyl. The best and most popular finish for wall graphics, is matte or non-gloss. You can apply glossy graphics to an interior wall, but you will have a major glare problem. Unless you specifically request a gloss finish, your graphics will have a matte finish. For a unique look, you can mix the vinyl finishes! There’s so many different options that are available for wall graphics. Contact us today to get your walls customized!

LiftingRoom

Gun Safe Wraps 1

Gun Safe Wraps

We can customize your gun safe in 5 easy steps:

  • Contact us and let us know the make and model of your gun safe. If you don’t know, just provide us with dimensions of the surface you want covered. Sending us a straight-on picture of the surface you want covered is very helpful as well.
  • Do online searches for gun safe wraps and let us know what you have in mind. We can customize images to get you the exact look you’re looking for.
  • One of our designers will send you a proof/mock-up to help you see what it’s going to look like.
  • We use the highest quality 3M materials and laminates, printed on our HP latex printers to create a vibrant, colorful wrap.
  • Our installers will finish the job and make sure everything is installed correctly.

Firearms are your prized possessions that must be protected and kept safe, which is why you lock them in a secure gun safe. We help you customize your safe – maybe you want a camo wrap, or a wildlife scene, …one of the more popular themes is one that displays your patriotism.

Have an item you’d like to personalize or make unique with your own graphic design? Whether you have a design all ready to go, or you need help creating one from an idea buried in the depths of your imagination, we can help! Our award-winning design team has created many custom designs. Using the process below, we have perfected the art of creative custom designs for almost any situation.

Give the experts at Connecting Signs a call today at 970.493.0133 to discuss your custom gun safe wrap project.

Bus wraps fort collins

Vehicle Graphics for Water Valley’s Limo Bus in Windsor, Colorado

Connecting Signs worked with Miles BrandDNA to create a great eye-catching bus wrap for Water Valley in Windsor, Colorado.

  • Miles BrandDNA’s singular focus is on creating differentiation by identifying and communicating our client’s Brand DNA has produced an unprecedented history of success for many of the leading real estate brands in the world.
  • Water Valley holds the distinction of being Northern Colorado’s premier resort-style lake front/golf course development.

We specialize in vehicle graphics, and as far as we’re concerned, the bigger the better! One of the challenges of this bus wrap was keeping the graphics flowing across the large windows on the sides of the bus. We used perforated window film to keep the graphics looking great over the windows, while allowing the folks inside the bus to see out. For the body of the bus, we used highly conformable 3M premium wrap vinyl to make sure our customer gets a beautiful looking graphic, with the longest life possible.

This newly wrapped bus with flashy graphics, not only provides the lucky riders with loads of fun while they safely enjoy their special event, but the bus is also providing a huge rolling billboard for Water Valley! Bottom line is that bus wraps really can’t help but get noticed, and they will drive brand awareness more effectively than nearly every other type of advertising.

If you have vehicle (even a bus!) that needs to be advertising your brand, give us a call at 970.493.0133 and we’ll help create a rolling billboard for your company’s brand!

Commercial truck wraps fort collins

Truck Graphics for The Generous Farmer in Loveland, Colorado

We partnered with The Generous Farmer and The Great American Food Pantry to design, print, and install a custom truck wrap for one of their farm trucks. These two organizations located in Loveland, Colorado are committed to helping feed deserving folks in need of a helping hand.

  • The Great American Food Pantry was founded on the idea of helping those in need. Ever since this organization was established, we have endeavored to provide help where the need is greatest.
  • The Generous Farmer is a reputable Food Broker that has been created to act as a conduit between Charitable Individuals, Farmers and Food Assistance Programs all over the Country in order to help feed our nations less fortunate by providing food in the form of quality farm-fresh fruits and vegetables at a lower cost than purchasing direct from traditional providers.

They approached us to see if we could take their specific and detailed design ideas, and incorporate them into a custom designed truck wrap. Our team specializes in vehicle wrap design in every situation – even the trickier ones such as what this project entailed. We decided on using contour cut graphics in order to show the great base color of the vehicle. The design includes shafts of wheat to accent the various sponsor logos and other features of the Ford E350 truck.

Using premium 3M wrap vinyl we printed and cut the Loveland truck graphics, and our 3M preferred installation rounded out the project flawlessly! When you have a truck wrap, or vehicle wrap that requires that extra-special design element, give us a call at 970.493.0133. We’ll take your ideas and transform your work truck, van, or car into something that represents your company in best of ways!

Food truck wraps

Food Truck graphics for Rocky Mountain Sausage Grill in Fort Collins

Food trucks are more and more popular in Fort Collins, Denver, and up and down the Colorado Front Range. They rely on hungry customers in downtown area, business parks, construction sites, and all other urban areas. They also rely on brand recognition and eye-catching graphics – which is where we come in!

Our team here at Connecting Signs specializes in creating spectacular Food Truck graphics, and we partner with you to create the brand awareness your business needs. We recently partnered with Rocky Mountain Sausage Grill in Fort Collins to create a mobile kitchen that undoubtedly will gather hungry patrons no matter where it’s parked. Their specialty will feature homemade and local products, including sauerkraut, sausage sandwiches, and much more!

We’ll make sure your business truck will get a top quality graphics to match the food you’re serving.

  • We offer one-on-one professional graphic design to make your logo and services stand out.
  • We use 3M and Avery vinyl for long lasting, and value-driven wraps.
  • 3M Preferred installers will make sure your graphics are installed with utmost care.

When you are looking for graphics for your food truck, mobile kitchen, mobile canteen, roach coach, gut truck, or catering truck you’ve got to give us a call at 970.493.0133. We love helping businesses be successful, and connecting them with customers looking for their products and services!