Way to make graphics on a convex car window appear straight?


Question

I'm designing a vinyl decal to cover the whole back window of a Jeep Cherokee. I got the dimensions from corner to corner, but when it was printed there was a massive 'rainbow' curvature of everything, apparently due to the window having a sort of outward bow to it (which may or may not be greater at the bottom than it is at the top).

I've done a couple car decals before and haven't had a major problem, but this one has text stretching all the way across.

Starting from the flat car template in Illustrator, had to arc-warp the art -16º to even kind of approximate the areas that were cut off in the final print.

Does anyone know of a decent solution for making this kind of vinyl appear like it's going straight across a curved surface like this?

Original art (earlier version)

I don't understand how it could go from that to this (or how to correct for it without modeling it in 3D with UV coordinates or something crazy I don't have the tools for...?):

enter image description here

Edit - For clarification: I am not the person applying these decals. I'm the art director for the Barker Lounge. I live and work in a different state from the franchise that's getting this put on their car, and I don't have access to the vehicle. When we saw the results we got a guarantee that they would redo the job. But before that, I want to make sure we are providing art that won't cause this bend/arc issue...

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12/5/2014 6:49:00 PM

Many years ago we used to just take low tak masking tape generally around the size of the logo and place it on the back window and cut it out with an exacto knife and then remove it, lay it flat, and measure it to estimate the arc. Not seeing an example its going to be hard to give you a great answer but you could always do that as an option.

There are templates we used at a wrap shop that was just for Illustrator that has very good templates you might want to take a look at called Pro Vehicle Outlines. I recall they may have window measurements. It's been a couple of years but the site seems to have grown to what it used to be. If that doesn't work you could always look for window tint templates that usually configure the arch when die cutting tint on a plotter.

Other than those the only thing you can really do is test. Masking is somewhat cheap but I would suggest using scrap vinyl. We used to keep a huge bin of the stuff from die cut run for this very reason. They make great templates if you dont want to waste masking tape.


As stated you should still find a way to mask over the area. Maybe apply a flex ruler over the curved area and trace a line to find the exact curve you need to apply in your template or design file.

On another note, this is poor quality and I hope you didnt let this go out like this:

enter image description here enter image description here

You should gently apply heat from a heat gun and use a covered squeegee and mold the vinyl around the button or whatever you call it. Let it dry then take a new exacto blade and trim coming at an angle parallel to the window itself. Not cutting at a 90 degree which is what it looks like you did. Not at all trying to be rude but if that is your work you should stand by it and if I was a customer I wouldn't take that I'd have you redo it.


After reading all the comments in a curved rear window you will not be able to have every design match or in your instance look perfectly straight. I would suggest possibly consulting with a local sign shop to see if they have templates or can assist you in targeting a design range for certain vehicles. In this situation I would provide three types of designs. One design for flat panel or truck rear windows that do not have a curve in the glass, a small arced window design for SUV windows that have an angle C/D pillar and a design for sedans that may need more of an extreme arc.

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12/10/2014 8:00:00 PM

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