Anatomy of a Gray Wrap
“The first comp I sent was on February 20, and the final design was [approved] on September 18,” said Nate Rapp, shop manager for Scribbles & Drips Lettering and Graphics (Laurys Station, PA), referring to a wrap job from last year on a 2017 Audi RS7 Performance. What the heck could have been going on during those seven months? “Our customer, Ryan, is a big Audi fanatic and this was his dream car,” Nate said. Having first come to Scribbles & Drips a few years back for a helmet wrap, Ryan originally had the shop wrap the Audi in satin black with blue accents. But a collision required a new wrap, and “this time he wanted to go ‘wild,’” Nate said.
INDECISION, THEN INCISION
The shop presented a wide range of layouts and colors, from camo to 50/50 splits to racing liveries, until finally – after the change of two seasons – they won Ryan over. “The big deciding factor was the grays,” Nate said. The design was composed with multiple templates so that the full wrap would appear as one piece. They printed the job on an Epson S80600 using Arlon SLX wrap film and Arlon 3270 satin lamination, applied by their Royal Sovereign cold laminator. “This was the first ‘full gray’ design we produced on our new Epson printer, and we were all blown away at how well it produced the different gray tones,” he said.
Both sides were printed as one piece each, Nate said, with the hood, roof, trunk and rear bumper done separately for the customer’s ease of maintenance and to achieve a better overall look. “Both side pieces were pretty large, 220 x 58 in. to be exact,” Nate said. “It took three of us to peel and set them.” To match, both side pieces wrap all the way to the center of the bumper, he explained, so the design flows better.
Scribbles & Drips designated two places for “slash cuts” for overlays, one below the taillights going onto the rear bumper, the other along the extension of the hood design on each side of the front grill. The overlays for the front measured 12 x 12 in. and the pieces below the taillights, 42 x 12 in. To keep everything straight, the back pieces were done separately so that they were dead on, Nate said. “The front extensions were actually an afterthought and never a part of the original rendering.”
The most difficult part of the whole wrap was the alignment of the stripes from the sides to the hood, roof and trunk. “We tried to keep everything in one continuous design, so it was a ton of prep work in measuring and templates to samples, to make sure everything would align the way we wanted,” Nate said, reporting that, “Surprisingly, installing the sides was very simple. The sides took three of us to set up [but] one guy only a few hours to finish and trim.” The install team used standard 3M gold squeegees, a heat gun and a heat lamp that “helped a ton to keep everything straight with minimal stretch and distortion for the side installs,” Nate said, adding that “race ramps are an absolute time (and back) saver!”
The installation took about two weeks in-between other jobs at the shop. After completion, everything was ceramic coated by Joe LeVan, owner of Obsessive Car Detailing (Slatington, PA).
Lastly, Ryan wanted something to carry the design into the new wheels he was ordering for the Audi: 21-in. Vossen VFS-1’s in satin black. “We took the same CMYK blue on the vehicle and made some custom ‘slash cuts,’ plotter cut them, and inlaid them on the barrel on the wheel behind the spokes,” Nate said. However, at first the shop installed the decals on the wrong rims. “The wheels were brought to us off the car, so we installed the graphics on them and when [our team] went to install them after the wrap was done, nothing was right.” Eventually the correct wheels rolled in and the custom decals fit perfectly, Nate said. “I guess that’s all part of any custom project.”