Welcome to Part 3A of our fun and exciting tutorial on how to create your very own Car Wrap Template!!!
Part 1 we got the goods, Part 2 we measured out our Car, so now in Part 3, we’re going to get the ball rolling in creating our template.
Keeping our measurements and photos taken from Part 2 on hand, start with opening up the driver’s side photo in Adobe Illustrator.
Don’t worry about sizing, colors, etc for now. Your primary focus at this point should be creating an accurate template for the sides of the Car. Now that the photograph of the driver’s side has been opened, we’re going to lock the photo in place so we don’t accidentally move it when we’re tracing out our template. We’ll do this by locking the layer the image is on while creating a new layer to trace our template.
First start by opening the “Layers” panel by selecting WINDOW from the top menu and scrolling our way down to LAYERS.
Once this has been selected, the Layers panel should appear.
As we can see here, there’s only one layer currently in this file which contains the image of our Car. We’ll begin with locking this layer, as mentioned earlier, this will prevent you from accidentally moving or selecting the photo while keeping it stationary the entire time.
This can be achieved by clicking the empty box next to the eye, which will toggle the LOCKED feature prohibiting this layer from being modified in anyway.
Next, double click on the layer name (i.e. “Layer 1”) to open the Layer Options window.
Once the Layer Options window opens, rename our first layer “DRIVER’S SIDE PHOTO”, then click OK.
Once we have our resource image locked in place, we can create a new layer to trace our template. To do this, click the peeling square icon next to the Trashcan in the Layer’s window. This icon is called the CREATE A NEW LAYER button.
Now that we have a new layer created, follow the steps mentioned earlier to access the Layer Options window on our newly formed 2nd Layer to rename it “DRIVER’S SIDE TEMPLATE”
WHEW! Now that we went through the painstaking process to have all our layer’s organized, it’s time to start drawing our template. With the DRIVER’S SIDE TEMPLATE layer selected, select the pen tool by either clicking on it’s icon in the toolbar to the left of your screen, or by hitting “P” on the keyboard. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pen Tool, here’s how the icon looks to help you locate it easier.
Using the Pen Tool can be tricky, so much so that it probably deserves it’s own blog post. If you’ve never used this tool (or Illustrator) before, poke around on YouTube searching for any “Illustrator Pen Tool Tutorial” videos you may find. Most of these videos can be fairly helpful to a beginner. It might take a while to get the hang of it at first, so take some time playing with the Pen Tool to get used to it’s idiosyncrasies, then come back to this step in the tutorial.
With the Pen Tool selected, locate the Stroke/Fill color boxes at the bottom of the tool bar. It should look like 2 squares staggered with one on top of the other other.
The top left square is the FILL color box, this means whatever shape you draw will be filled with the color selected in this box, right now that color is white.
The bottom right square with the hole in the middle is the STROKE color box, this means that whatever shape you draw will be outlined with the color selected in this box. Right now this color is black. The thickness of this outline is called the STROKE, the width of the stroke can be adjusted by using the Stroke Window that can be found at WINDOWS > STROKE at the top of the screen.
Since we are creating a template, we just need the outline of the car. With our Pen Tool still selected from the previous step, keep your eye on the Stroke/Fill color boxes and hit the “X” key on your keyboard. Notice it will switch which box is in the foreground. Try it a couple of times… it’s fun!!
After giving yourself a mini-seizrue from hitting the X key watching the Stroke and Fill boxes flicker like a strobe light, toggle the X key so that the Fill box is in the foreground. Once this has been achieved hit the ” / ” (forward slash) key on your keyboard. You should se a red diagonal line going through the Fill box.
This means no color is selected for the Fill of any shape you draw, not even white. Anything you draw at this point will have a clear/transparent Fill. Which is good since we only want to draw an outline at this point. Now hit the X key so that the Stroke box is in the foreground, then double click it. This should prompt the Color Picker window to open allowing you to select any color desired for your stroke.
Play with the Color Picker to change the stroke color, a bright color is suggested so that it will be easier to see what you’re drawing when doing so over the photo of our car. After selecting your desired stroke color, click OK.
We are now ready to start tracing our template for the Driver’s Side. (About freakin’ time!!!)
Having our Pen tool and a bright stroke color selected, begin to trace the outline of the car. Start with the shape of the car, then move onto it’s doors and handles, followed by the windows, and then any other section or body line that will need to be taken into account when laying out your Car Wrap design. When you’re finished, your image should look like this…
… and viola! We have our Driver’s Side Template!!! (Well, the most important part of the template so far.)
Now that we have our outline/template of the car, go ahead and delete the DRIVER’S SIDE PHOTO layer by unlocking it (click the LOCK icon next to the eye icon on this layer) and then drag it into the TRASHCAN at the bottom of the layers window.
Next, select the DRIVER’S SIDE TEMPLATE layer, once selected, hold ⌘+A (Command+A) to select all the lines used to create your template, then hold ⌘+G (Command+G) to group all of these lines together. This is necessary because if we need to move the template or mirror it at any point later in the process, every line will move together as one.
Now that all the lines creating our template have been grouped together, it’s time to adjust our template to it’s correct size. Start by clicking on the SELECTION TOOL on the left side of the screen at the very top of the tool bar, the icon should look like a black arrow. Once this tool has been selected, click on our template. This should make several numerical boxes appear at the top of your screen, focus your attention to the farthest two boxes on the right hand side labeled “W” and “H”
These boxes stand for WIDTH and HEIGHT. Still having the template selected and using the measurements obtained in PART 2, type the Width (156 inches) and Height (53 inches) into their respective boxes. This will size your template to 100% of it’s actual size. Don’t worry if your template is off by a few 1/10ths of an inch, even an inch or two can slide. As long as it’s close to the measurements you took in Part 2, you’ll be fine.
Keep in mind that the largest possible dimensions for Illustrator files are 227″ x 227″, some vehicles such as Passenger Vans, Trucks with extended beds, RV’s, or any other large vehicle may exceed these measurements. If that is the case, you may have to create your template at 50% or 25%, so take this into consideration when making your template.
So we learned how to create, lock, and rename layers, mastered the art of adjusting the Stroke and Fill color boxes, discovered how to use the Pen Tool effectively, traced the photograph of your car to get our template rolling, and totally kicked ass at scaling it to it’s actual size!!! Congratulations!! You’ve learned crucial skills in 2 hours that take mediocre Graphic Artist’s months (and large sums of money) to master at an overpriced Artsy-Fartsy college!!
Let this information sink in. You might not get it the first couple of tries, just review this article and follow along in illustrator until you get confident with your abilities.
We’ve just scratched the surface on the template creation stage of creating your own Car Wrap. This portion of the wrap process will be broken down into several smaller sections so you can absorb it easier, cramming everything into one blog post would be overwhelming… plus it’s late and I have to get up early in the morning. 😛
Retrace the steps in this article until you know it like the back of your hand, once that’s happened, you’ll be ready for Part 3B in this series… Adding Bleed to Your Template!!