To Go in the Water

Just when you thought it was safe… boat season is back.
Picture This Advertising, Gatorwraps deliver detailed boat wraps

With spring comes boating season for much of North America, and that means boat wraps are in peak demand. New owners of motor, sail or even paddle craft will be looking to christen their new ships – and quickly – so here are two recent boat-wrap projects to help get your nautical-wrap skills shipshape.


How confident are you in laying down a 40-ft.-long piece of vinyl? That was one challenge faced by Picture This Advertising (Mandeville, LA) when a repeat customer returned again with a 39-ft. Contender Fishing Boat. The client wanted a design that would complement his commercial electrical work when taking clients out, participating in fishing events or just showing off, according to Picture This owner Trey Matula. “He said that we had impressed him with our designs in the past and left the creative up to us. He only asked for the overall look to include some saltwater fishing element and tie in with the boat name, ‘Wired Up.’”

Normally, Picture This does at least a 10-minute “art interview” with each client. “We also do our best to get an idea of who the client wishes to target with this wrap and for what reasons,” Trey said. “This allows us to get a starting point by considering what design elements would best capture their target market while matching their overall style.” Using Adobe Illustrator for the large graphics and curvatures and Photoshop for gradients, Picture This arrived at the final design with their third mockup. As a rule, they try to keep important elements in the middle portion of the bow, leaving the front and back quarters for background filler. “These boats can sometimes offer quite a bit of a curve that adjusts the lay of your prints,” Trey cautioned.

Picture This Advertising (Mandeville, LA) wrapped this 39-ft. Contender Fishing Boat.
Picture This Advertising (Mandeville, LA) wrapped this 39-ft. Contender Fishing Boat.

Picture This printed the design on 3M IJ180mC-10 using their HP Latex 210 61-in. and HP/3M latex inks before applying 3M Scotchcal 8518 Gloss Overlaminate. And while installation was smooth sailing, the highest wave Picture This normally traverses with larger boats is the logistics of getting them to, or even in their shop. When installing boat wraps, the greatest difference versus land vehicles is the lack of paneling in boats. “You are doing it in one, long linear sheet that requires a bit of repositioning several times to ensure all will lay out properly,” Trey said.


Here’s a 40-footer from Gatorwraps (Ontario, CA), the boat belonging, conveniently, to company president Rod Voegele. Berthed at Newport Harbor in nearby Newport Beach, the seafarer had to be wrapped at the harbor boat shop. Of course, this beauty is also “parked” in the gallery of photos in the company’s website, where its intricate design intends to lure customers. No, that background texture isn’t alligator skin – don’t let the company name fool you (like it did me) upon first glance.

The background is, in fact, the “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum,” printed in 1570 and considered to be the first modern atlas. Cool as that may be, think image quality first, of the ancient map itself, then scanning and finally blowing it up 40x. Gatorwraps Creative Director Jeremy Webb did a lot of digital work and some minor modifications, Rod said, but he kept the full concept intact. “I have several resampling and sharpening filters I’ve created to enlarge low-res graphics to a usable resolution,” Jeremy said. “It’s a bit involved,” though he stopped short of revealing his “trade secrets.” The design also had to allow for a few extremities, such as the radar arch. “The front railing is riveted on, so it’s tough to avoid the seams,” Rod said. To compensate, the design flowed from the bottom to the rail. Once ready, Gatorwraps printed the design using their Mutoh ValueJet 1638X on 3M 1080 G336 Gloss Green Envy – not white film. “We really liked this green for the background,” Rod said. They then used their SEAL Pro 62 laminator to protect the wrap with 3M 8548G Gloss Overlaminate.

Gatorwraps (Ontario, CA) tackled this 40-ft. boat wrap for the company president.
Gatorwraps (Ontario, CA) tackled this 40-ft. boat wrap for the company president.

The key word is “protect” because this boat, and many like it, sit constantly in salt water. And when not just sitting, boats can pound through wind and water at up to 60 mph. As a result, Gatorwraps pays particular attention to the sealing process – so much that “We offer a two year warranty for the 8548, even though 3M doesn’t expressly cover it,” Rod said. “It’s a good test.” Just remember to wear a life jacket.


Signs of the Times July 2020

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