Printing from Drawings – Bad Idea

Everybody makes this mistake once – Printing a wallcovering job from an architectural drawing.  99 times out of 100, the actual dimensions of the targeted wall are NOT the dimensions of the actual wall when it comes time to hang the wallcovering mural.

Why can I not rely on architectural drawings?

Drawings can be inaccurate, Carpets and mouldings can encroach from the floor up, mouldings and sills can creep from the cieling down, local ordinaces can require on-site changes of wall dimensions, and the most fun of all – YOU could be working from drawing Revision A, when the contractor is building from drawing Revision D!

Managing quick turn wallcovering installations

Because wallcovering or wallpaper murals are often one of the last items to be installed into a newly designed room or building, the biggest concern here is time.  It’s crucial to get the expected mural installer into the site to take measurements.  There aren’t rough estimates- these are down to the inch measurements.

Other options are to convince your customers to install the mural into or onto a fixed size frame.  I’ve had clients that have had me create a drawing that is too small for the wall, and they frame around it after its done.  I’ve also had clients install 1″+ plywood offset from the wall with blocks, and wrap the entire mural around the edges of the plywood- giving a wrapped canvas effect.  Installing onto a FIXED size gives everyone expectations that CAN be met.  This includes the contractor, designer, architect, the artist, and the printer.

Check out future blog posts and find out how to deal with errors in size – AFTER you’re printed mural is already half installed, or atleast on site!

Substrate Texture affects Perceieved Color with Solvent Inks

One of the lovely surprises that many digital printers realize when printing on wallcovering is the fact that texture greatly affects the sheen of a print, and that sheen greatly affects perceived color.  Although this is highly obvious when using ‘slower drying’ solvent inks, it can also be seen on UV prints as well.

Vinyl wallcovering, whether 15 oz, or 20oz thickness, will almost always have a texture.  These textures are added through embossing rolls during the calendering, or manufacturing process.  In general wallcovering applications- textures can range from paint strokes, to basket weaves, to dot patterns.  At a meager cost of $10k-$20k, some large volume wallcovering buyers can have their own logo embossed into their textured wallcovering.

The nooks and crannies and ‘valleys’, provide places for ink to hide.  The sometimes undercoated ‘hills’ of a texture provide underprinted areas that are often highly reflective.

There are two ways that this can be manifest in a print

  1. Textures with Large Elements – (big valleys, big hills) – although possibly annoyingly shiny on the hills, the valleys offer a deep rich color that comes through.  This can be an attractive feature if your texture is brush strokes.
  2. Textures with small elements – (little valleys, little hills) – the size of the varied facets of the wallcovering blend together to the eye, and appear to dull the color of the image.  This can be a great effect if you have a low key, low contrast image that does not require tight color matching, but can be devestating if you are looking for deep blacks, and vibrant colors.  These textures are often called ‘suedes’, or to a lesser degree ‘stipples’.

Viewing Distance vs. Resolution (dpi/sight distance chart)

What can you get a way with?  –Often times that’s the question in regards to large format graphics -with wall sizes that can be 100’+ long x 40′ tall,  what’s the minimum resolution that an image needs to be in order to satisfy the human eye?  Below is my take on resolution and minimum viewing distance:

15 dpi: 25 feet
25 dpi: 20 feet
50 dpi: 06 feet
75 dpi: 04 feet
100 dpi: 03 feet
300 dpi+: 1 foot

Top discussion items regarding wall size for wallcovering

If you’ve been in the business long enough- you know you have two kinds of customers – those that know what they want, and those that do not.  And the ones that don’t know what they want can be extremely dangerous!

When working with Architectural/Design teams, or their respective clients, start from the ground up.  I’ve had clients to whom I’ve had to explain Length x Width equals area, or squarefootage.  Make no assumptions!

Wall Size basics to discuss with customers

  • Your clients are used to choosing EXACT colors from a Pantone stack, or from an existing fabric.  They do not necessarily understand the concept of CMYK, or process color.  It is your job to provide accurate expectations (and of course samples) of color to be printed for the job.
  • Always ask for real measurements – and never print off of a drawing.  Why?
    • Drawings go through revisions
    • Contractors change layouts and plans on site
    • Soffits, mouldings, lights, speakers, and other items aren’t recorded in drawings
    • Clients change their minds as to what graphics go where
  • You will be charging your client for the actual print that you create- if your client has a room with a round ceiling that you have contracted to print a cloud scene for – be sure they know that you will be printing something square, not round…  The crafy customer will try to catch you on this sort of a discrepancy.  As a side note, always charge for bleed, too!
  • It’s a common discussion, but be ready to explain why an image 2x as TALL as it is wide can not be ‘resized’ or ‘stretched’ to fit into a space that is 2x as WIDE as it is tall.
I did a job for a bowling alley in Las Vegas.  The client had chosen images of a women who was bending over to pick up a bowling ball, and the two target walls required that I stretch the image in either the horizontal , OR the vertical.  Stretching it Wide, the woman looked like her upper body was huge, and that she suffered from dwarfism, Stretching it TALL for a vertical wall created an Amazonian women ready to crush any man with her extremely elongated legs.
  • If you have a job that includes more than one image, you would be very wise to create a cut sheet that shows what each image is, and WHERE in the drawings it goes.  This should also list out actual print dimension.  Receiving a sign off on such a sheet will cover several asses….