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Making It Your Fault

(February 2013) posted on Wed Jan 30, 2013

Before blaming your designer for a final-product fault, take a step back and realize it may have been something you missed in the beginning.

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By Jared Smith

If we come across a request for a vehicle that’s not on our blue-certified list (and this happens almost daily), we must get our hands on the vehicle. We prefer to have the client bring the vehicle to us so we can complete the survey with at least two staff members, indoors, and in a controlled environment. This allows us to use a good camera and have full access to all of our tools, plus enough room to take the ideal perspective photos. These photos include: straight-on from all sides, three-quarter shots from all four corners, a high shot of the hood and roof, and close-ups of any non-linear areas (such as fenders on a dually or air intakes on a Corvette).

After the photos are taken, we then require a few specific measurements on every vehicle. First and foremost is the wheelbase. Wheelbase measurements are great for three reasons: many template providers include them; vehicle manufacturers provide them online; and this measurement leaves no interpretation. It’s a very precise way to ensure you have a template that matches the client’s vehicle. Remember, template providers do a great job, but they’re not perfect. So trust – but verify.

Another great use for the wheelbase measurement is to help you scale your photos to 10 percent in Photoshop, enabling you to get the entire vehicle to scale. Once you have that measurement, you can measure even a door handle or other small or forgotten detail in Photoshop when the vehicle is no longer in your possession.

The hood is an additional area we take seriously when it comes to physical measurements. Correct hood measurements are not easy to get from template views alone, and many times they are very close to the maximum media width.

It’s also a good idea to get measurements of the entire length of front and back bumpers, the widest part of each door, the overall height of side panels, and the exact window measurements. These measurements, plus a good strategy on where to add bleed and how much bleed to add, will give your designer a fighting chance to get good mechanical production files to your print department.