Wall graphics are a really fun way to accent a building’s interior design. Something as simple as wall lettering with a motivational statement or company mission can help motivate employees. Full wall graphics can protect a retail wall and add color & life. There are endless options and possibilities to add personality and style to any place of business, or even a home; using vinyl wall graphics or lettering.
As part of our 10 commandments series, we wanted to share some insider tips on how best to design, set up for print and install wall graphics of all kinds. How do we know all the tricks? Wilde Signs has been designs, printing & installing Wall Graphics for over a decade… so if you help with any part of the process contact us!
1. Thou Shalt Measure Twice
The old saying “measure twice, cut once” can save you a lot of time and energy because it can save you from having to reprint wall graphics if they are not the correct size! Before creating your artwork, double check your dimensions so you can be sure that everything is designed & printed the correct size. This small step can save you a lot of head ache in the long run.
Here’s what I like to do. Take a straight on photo of the wall and measure it from left to right and top to bottom. While you’re at it measure a second fixed point, like a door frame. Scale the photo to match one of those measurements, then check the other measurements against the scaled photo…. if they all match then you are golden!
2. Thou Shalt Never Use Grainy Images
Wall graphics, unlike many other large format signs are commonly viewed at close proximity by passing customers or employees. This means that grainy or blurry images will be easily noticed. Be aware of image quality when stretching images to help them fill a larger space. Always view your artwork at 100% or “print size” to check image quality.
There are some great stock photos available for purchase. We recommend adobestock.com for their large portfolio of high-quality images. If your image of choice is too small, find something similar, but large enough to fill the void without looking grainy or blurry.
3. Thou Shalt Label Graphics
If you are covering a full wall, or even a full room with a repeating graphics, make sure that you label the panels in one of the bottom corners. Keep the label small and nested into one of the bottom corners where it can be easily identified, before being trimmed off. We guarantee that labeling your panels will make installation a whole lot easier.
4. Thou Shalt Create a Safe Zone
When designing any print materials, you always want to have an inset safe zone to make sure that important elements do not get cut off in the production process. With wall graphics you want to follow the same guidelines for a safe zone around the outer edge, but you also want to design your important elements around any large objects that may block portions of the graphic from view.
Examples to watch out for are things such as furniture, cabinets, shelves, large equipment, mirrors, windows etc. Take note of any large objects that are directly in front of the wall, or part of the wall, and design a safe zone around them so important elements do not get cut out or blocked from view.
5. Thou Shalt Design With the End in Mind
The idea here is to make sure whatever you design fits well with the surrounding area. Sometimes a color or pattern might seem really cool on a computer screen, but once you get it full scale on a wall it can take on a whole new vibe. Not always a positive one!
Our recommendation is to take a wide-angle photo with your wall and the surrounding areas in view. Mock up your design on top of this photo and proof the design concept to get a better feel of how it will flow throughout the room.
6. Thou Shalt Design at Quarter Scale
If you are working with very large walls that need full covering, consider designing your art files at quarter scale. Even the top Adobe design programs have limits to the size your artboards can reach. Designing at quarter scale gives you the ability to create larger graphics on a single artboard.
When designing at quarter scale make sure that your resolution is at a minimum of 300 dpi. This will ensure that your printed graphics will still look crisp at full scale.
7. Thou Shalt Check Print File Carefully
When you are designing a really large print file on a computer screen you are viewing that file at a fraction of the actual size. This can make missing tiny flaws or errors very easy; especially when dealing with backgrounds that are stitched together.
Always view your artwork at 100% or “full scale” and check over everything carefully for crisp images, even fades, no hard edit lines or spelling errors.
8. Thou Shalt Overlap Sections
The easiest way to create a seamless wall graphic is to add 1 inch of horizontal overlap between printed graphics or panels. Even the most expensive vinyl will shrink slightly. Installing panels perfectly flush is nearly impossible. If you are covering a large area with wall graphics that requires multiple prints seamed together, adding an inch of overlap will ensure that your graphics have a perfect flow.
9. Thou Shalt Use The Right Vinyl
There are a wide range of vinyl’s available on the market today. Certain vinyl’s are recommended for specific applications. Which vinyl to use is decided on a host of factors including:
- What the wall is made of
- What the average temperature is in that area
- Will it need to be removed at some point?
- How smooth the surface is
- Will people be touching the wall on a regular basis?
Before ordering wall graphics talk with a professional about those types of details, so they can point you toward the best vinyl for your specific needs.
10. Thou Shalt Apply to Clean Wall
Always give your wall a good cleaning before installing wall graphics. Removing dust and debris before instillation will help your graphics stick securely in place, wrinkle free, and looking sharp for a long time. The same is true for filling any holes or small crevices that may have developed in the life of the wall prior to installation. While some vinyls are thicker than others, all vinyl will show wall texture, indents or debris left on a wall before installation.
Just like with painting, surface prep can go a long way in helping your wall graphics last longer and look better.
Putting it All Together
Wall graphics are a really fun way to utilize images and text to create a unique work or retail environment, but designing, printing, or installing them may not be in your realm of expertise. It does happen to be in ours though. We would love to help your wall graphic vision come to life.
Wilde Signs is a print provider for wall graphics of any size. We can provide wall graphic design, print and installation for the best value per dollar spent.
Not local to the West Michigan area? As long as you are in the US we can print your graphics in house, and contact one of our installation partners that are local to your area.
If you are interested in a free consultation or estimate on what a wall graphic project for your business could look like contact us today.