One of the most frequently asked questions that we get here at Camoclad HQ is about how our camo sheets match up with one another. People often want their camo to tile seamlessly from sheet to sheet, up and down, left to right. Well the simple answer is our sheets are not set up to accomodate this for two simple reasons: 1) the actual patterns we produce come to us in all different sizes which would mean every pattern we offer would have to have its own specific sheet size as opposed to the current standard of 4×5 foot sheets; and 2) it simply isn’t necessary to tile the patterns across a full install! Camouflage, by its very nature, blends into itself very well.
That being said, one of the easiest things to spot in a camo wrap (or any other environment for that matter) is a hard line. So today we’re going to talk about a couple techniques that we developed here in the Camoclad Install Department that will help you to eliminate these hard-line seams and easily achieve that ‘seamless’ look on your install without wasting tons of material trying to trim your sheets down to single tiles.
The first method we’ll discuss is what we here at HQ refer to as “the wavy cut.” When doing a typical install, we recommend that you overlap the next sheet by about a half inch. This will help to ensure that the seam stays strong and will prevent water and dust from penetrating your wrap and affecting the integrity of the adhesive or the finish on your vehicle. However, for the wavy cut technique we recommend increasing that overlap to roughly an inch or even an inch and a half. Once you have the ovelapping sheets in place, you should be able to run your finger over the seam and actually feel where the bottom sheet stops. At this point, it’s a good idea to mark that spot with a piece of low-tack tape (painter’s tape or masking tape is perfect) so you have a visual reference to help guide you through the next step.
With a sharp blade and a gentle touch, starting at the top edge of the top sheet begin to cut down the material in a loose squiggly line, making sure to stay at least a quarter of an inch from your tape line. Once you’ve completed the cut, simply go back to the top and pull away the excess material and your tape line to reveal the new seam. The key to this method is keeping a smooth line with your blade. If you don’t want to just wing it free-hand, you can take a grease pencil or even some of your kid’s sidewalk chalk and lightly trace out a guide-line to follow with the blade.
So that’s the wavy cut! It may seem a little bit too simple, but you will be surprised at how effective this technique really is at eliminating that hard edge. And by only increasing the recommended overlap by an inch or so, it is considerably more cost efficient than the second technique we’ll be discussing, which is the “advanced overlap.”
Basically, for the advanced overlap method you will be making your trim line according to the elements within the pattern (such as branches, grass blades, or leaves), and where possible, making a conscious effort to try to blend certain elements between the two overlapping sheets. This method for hiding that seam between two sheets is generally only recommended for small to medium installs (ATVs, boats, Vehicle Accent kits, etc) as it is rather tedious and will use considerably more material, especially on full wraps and larger scale installs. The more time and thought you put into a technique like this, the better your results will be in the end so don’t get in a rush!
Before you start out on a job like this, you may want to take some time before hand to get a bit of a gameplan in order to help make sure you have enough camo to cover everything you need, and to start to get an idea of how everything will all fit together. The overlap for this technique will vary slightly from sheet to sheet (we recommend as little as one inch or as much as 6 to 8 inches depending on where the patterns line up with one another) so a few minutes before you get started to get a mental picture can really help things move along once you get going. For the sake of this article, I’ll be refering to a VAK install, but the ideas and methods outlined here can easily be applied to any of the kits we offer.
Once you have your first piece installed, you’ll want to figure out how much overlap you will need to accomplish the blend. A good way to do this is to secure the overlapping sheet to your vehicle with a couple strips of masking tape on either end of the sheet. This way you can easily reposition the material forward or backward to figure out the ideal overlap. Once you’ve found the perfect placement, run a few pieces of tape all the way across the middle of the sheet from top to bottom to form a hinge. Free the rear end of the sheet by removing one piece of tape (keep the other end taped down to help keep the sheet properly aligned) and then peel the backing paper off the vinyl until you get to the hinge tape. At this point, take some scissors or your razor blade and cut off the excess backing paper (JUST THE PAPER, not the vinyl!!). Carefully lower the camo down onto the vehicle, taking special care to keep it nice and straight so it lines up perfectly with the sheet you already installed. Once you have it stuck, just go back over it with your squeegee to finish up the install.
Now for the fun part! Take your trusty grease pencil or chalk (something that wipes off easily) and start figuring out your trim line. Just like with the wavy cut, it’s a good idea to mark your seam with a piece of tape so you have a visual idea of where it is and don’t end up trimming away too much of your overlap (remember, the magic number is a quarter inch; you don’t want to have any less than that). Follow the various sticks, leaves, branches, bark patterns, and so on as you make your path from top to bottom. Don’t be afraid to erase and start over if your path doesn’t work out right the first time, just be patient and make it perfect! Once you have your line, you just take your sharp blade and gently cut away the excess and you’re done! Well…with this section at least. I warned you that it was tedious!
So there you have it. If you’re the picky type that doesn’t like having that hard-lined seam in your camouflage (like me), now you have a couple options for hiding that seam a little bit. It’s also perfectly possible to sort of blend these two techniques together. Say you’re doing the wavy cut and you come across a leaf. Instead of cutting that leaf in two, just trim around the outside of it for a more natural line. Or if you find yourself unable to find a natural path through an area while doing the advanced method, you can simply do a small wavy section to get you to the next element. Just remember to take your time and have fun!