Heraldry for Scribes
Date Written: Summer, 1986
Last Updated: Summer, 2016
Author: Eowyn Amberdrake

Policy Level: Informational/Educational - a good “Heraldry 101” primer
Intended Audience: Scribes, Beginning Heralds, and Populace
Abstract: An article written for Scribes, by a Scribe with an extensive knowledge of heraldry. The West Kingdom College of Scribes obtained permission to print this article, and once the Scribes showed it off, we (the Heralds) decided it would be very useful for us as well (we got permission of Mistress Eowyn to reprint it here). Peredur ap Tristan enhanced the article by adding more images than were in the original. Originally published in Tournaments Illuminated, Issue 79 (Summer 1986). (Some of this was brought back to the original article as the appearance of the version Peredur was responsible for was nearly impossible to duplicate in HTML ...)


(Adapted with the author’s permission for Western usage, by Master Khaalid al Jaraad with the assistance of Mistress Alison von Markheim.)

In this article, I will assume that the reader is a scribe who does not read fluent heraldese, but who has just been given an abstruse verbal description of a set of arms and a poor-quality black and white copy of a picture drawn by a non-artist. The scribe’s goal is to redraw that picture in a manner consistent with heraldic practice, and to color it properly. This is not an introduction to heraldry, so I am also assuming that the reader has either a reference book or two or a tame herald available.

When SCA practice differs from mundane heraldic references, it is best to consult an experienced SCA herald about the difference, or to assume that the SCA practice is correct and is in keeping with our interpretation of heraldry.

I will specifically address the basics of heraldic drafting style (size and shape), heraldic conventions (what the blazon doesn’t say), SCA specific rules, and enough heraldic terminology to understand what goes where and how it is painted. Since animals occur frequently and have their own peculiarities of color and position, they are in a section of their own. The reader should refer to nearly any heraldic reference book for illustrations of crosses and their variations: there are too many to cover here. There are some crosses that are SCA inventions: if they aren’t in a mundane reference ask a knowledgeable SCA herald. Heraldic terms are printed in bold type the first time they are used, and the reader may wish to refer to an heraldic dictionary for a more complete definition. I particularly recommend An Heraldic Alphabet by J.R. Brooke-Little.

Some of the statements here are based on rulings gathered into the Laurel precedents documents. There are not exact quotes, but many interpretations. Nearly all are based directly upon mundane heraldry and heraldic illustrations and practices.

What goes on a shield?
The duty of heraldic design is to be distinct, simple and impressive. To this end, good heraldic style is typified by the following qualities:

Drawing a Shield
Figure 1 shows a basic shield shape. Draw the top of the shield and the center line. Draw straight sides 1/5 to 1/2 the width of the shield. 1/3 is a common length. Next, draw the sides curving to the center line. Either by starting at the bottom of the sides for a pointed base, or from the center for a round base.

Figure 1: How to Draw a Shield
1. Draw top line.
2. Draw centerline.
3. Draw sidelines
(Those drawn here are 1/3 the length of this top line.)
4. Draw the sides
curving to the centerline.
Either by starting at the center for a round base,
or from the bottom of the sides - for a pointed base.

The Blazon
The emblazon is the picture, the blazon is the description of the arms in formal heraldic wording. A blazon first describes the field, or background, then the color of the objects placed on the field. After that it describes charges placed on top of charges, and so on, building up from the surface of the shield. If a bordure or chief is present, it and its charges are blazoned last. The order that charges are given (depending on how they are arranged) is: from chief (top) to base (bottom), from dexter (shield’s right, observer’s left) to sinister (shield’s left, observer’s right), and from center outwards. When describing the charges, their number and arrangement on the shield are mentioned first, followed by their positions, positional details, color and color details. Several charges of the same color would all be described before mentioning the next color. Roundels (disks) and gouttes (drops) are sometimes blazoned by other names that imply their color (see Table 1).

Table 1: Roundels and Gouttes
Roundels Gouttes
Color Name Meaning Name Meaning
Argent - White Plate Silver (plata) de l’eau Water
Azure - Blue Hurt Hurtleberry des larms Tears
Gules - Red Torteau Cake de sang Blood
Or - Gold Bezant Byzantine coin d’Or Gold
Purpure - Purple Golpe Wine    
Sable - Black Pellet or Ogress Cannon shot de poix Pitch
Vert - Green Pomme Apple d’huile, d’olive Oil, Olive oil
White and Blue Fountain Water    
Black and White Tai-Ch’i Yin-yang    

The Field
The field is the background of the device, and is blazoned first, followed by the charges. A divided or parti-colored field is one divided into several pieces. It is partitioned into an even number of pieces when only two (which is by far the most common) tinctures (colors) are used. Otherwise, the field is said to be charged with the pieces. For instance, if a field consists of eight horizontal pieces alternately green and yellow, it is “Barry of eight vert and Or ...” If, on the other hand, it consists of several green and yellow pieces, with a green on the top, it is “Vert, three bars Or ...” Exceptions are chequey and lozengy, where it doesn’t matter. Chequey and lozengy do not have to be of a specified number of pieces and can have either odd or even numbers along their longest division. Sometimes a blazon does specify “chequey of nine ...” or the like. St. John Hope notes that the longest bar of chequey is generally divided into six or eight pieces, but seven has “some artistic advantage as well.”

The first named color is the one closest to the chief of the shield. If more than one part of a divided field shares the chief, then the color on the dexter side is mentioned first. Parti-colored fields normally have six pieces, otherwise the number is blazoned. Figure 2 shows the common divisions of the field, and the order that colors are given in the blazon. For arms without a chief, determine the tincture that belongs in the dexter chief corner, then color the rest of the arms from that starting point. When a charge such as a bend or saltire covers that corer, sketch in the field as if the charge were not present to determine tinctures. For arms with a chief, treat the dexter corner just below the chief as the top of the shield and proceed as above.

Figure 2: DIVISIONS OF THE FIELD

PER FESS

PER PALE

QUARTERLY

PER BEND

PER BEND SINISTER

PER SALTIRE

BARRY

PALY

CHECKY

BENDY SINISTER

BENDY

LOZENGY

PER CHEVRON

CHAPE

CHEVRONELLY

CHAUSSE

PER PALL

PER PALL INVERTED

GYRONNY

GYRONNY OF SIX

TIERCED IN PALE


Table 2: TREATMENTS OF THE FIELD
Name Meaning
Diapering Artistic "filling in the blank"
Fretty Interlaced diagonal lines
Masoned A regular brick-like pattern
Mailed Interlaced rings in a chain-mail pattern

Diapering
Diapering means to fill the blank spaces on a shield with a pattern of lines in a slightly darker or lighter hue of the same tincture. It is not mentioned in the blazon and is purely at the artists’ discretion. Uncharged otherwise empty fields or ordinaries were commonly diapered in period scrolls.

Lines of Partition
The lines of partition need not be just straight lines: if they are not, they should be bold enough to be identifiable from a distance. Thus, three to five copies of the basic unit of the design placed across the width of the shield is about right. Figure 3 gives their names and pictures. Lines of partition not only apply to divisions of the field, but they can be applied to the ordinaries and subordinaries.

Since a line of partition cannot face “outward” the rule is that it faces in the more “honorable” position: chief over base, dexter over sinister. Thus, a field per pale invected would have points to dexter, the arches to sinister. This appears to be the mundane practice, though precedent is somewhat muddled. Society practice is exactly the same. “Per pale” is the same in both but “per fess engrailed” mundanely would probably have the points to base (because the chief position “owns” the partition line), and Society practice places the points to chief so they look like the cups the partition line is named for.

Figure 3: LINES OF PARTITION (or DIVISION)

URDY

INVECTED

ENGRAILED

INDENTED

RAGULY

EMBATTLED

DOVETAILED

POTENTY

NEBULY

WAVY

RAYONNY

Colors
Tinctures are divided into color, metal, fur, and proper, and are used according to the Rule of Tincture:

Thou shalt not place metal upon metal nor color upon color.

Tables 3 and 4 list colors and metals with recommended paints. Furs and proper are nominally neutral with respect to this rule, as long as contrast is maintained. Or is generally metallic; argent is usually white.

Note: On period scrolls, silver metal as pigment is not often used, due to tarnishing and chemical reaction, its use is not in general recommended. -- Ed.

Table 3: COLORS
Name Color Shade Paint
Sable Black Greyish black Ivory black and dab white; India ink
Azure Blue Bright aquamarine Ultramarine and cerulean; French blue
Gules Red Vermilion Vermilion; cadmium red light
Vert Green Emerald green Emerald; azure and cadmium yellow light
Purpure Purple Mauve Purple lake; azure and cadmium red light

Table 4: METALS
Name Color Paint
Or Gold Grumbacher designer color cake; gold ink; decoupage "gold" foil;
genuine gold leaf; genuine shell gold
Yellow Pale yellow ochre; cadmium yellow light
Argent White Chinese white
Silver Silver ink; decoupage "silver" foil

Proper
Proper is used two ways for a charge colored as in nature, and for one with understood conventional tinctures. For proper colored as in nature, SCA blazons specify the exact genus and species, and if needed the variety or breed. Mundane blazons do not specify this. For conventional proper, entire charges so termed obey the Rule of Tincture, though details might not. Some charges even change their proper coloration when placed on different fields, to force compliance. Table 5 defines some conventional proper tinctures.

Table 5: CONVENTIONAL PROPER COLORINGS
Charge Tinctures
Barbed and seeded Green sepals, gold seeds
Flame On metal: gules (red) outside, Or (gold) inside
On color: Or (gold) outside, gules (red) inside
Ford On metal: barry wavy azure (blue) and argent (white)
On color: barry wavy argent (white) and azure (blue)
Humans Caucasion (pink) unless otherwise stated
Leather items Brown
Rainbow Nature: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo; white clouds
Heraldic: yellow, red, green, white; white clouds
Rose Red
Slipped and leaved Green leaves, green or brown stem
Stone items Grey
Sword Silver blade, gold hilt and quillions
Thistle Purple flower (SCA default -- mundane convention
is red flower; green sepals, stem, and leaves
Tree Green leaves, brown trunk
Wooden items Brown

Furs
Table 6 lists the furs and their patterns (along with the images in Figure 4). Varieties of ermine fur can be created by blazoning color (field) ermined metal (ermine spots), or vice versa. A variety of vair or potent fur can be created by blazoning vairy or potenty color and metal, or vice versa.

Table 6: FURS
Name Tinctures Pattern
Field Charge
Ermine White Black Ermine tails
Erminois Gold Black Ermine tails
Counter-ermine Black White Ermine tails
Pean Black Gold Ermine tails
Vair White Blue Vair Bells
Vair-en-point White Blue Vair Bells
Vair in Pale White Blue Vair Bells
Potent White Blue Crutch-like
Counter-Potent White Blue Crutch-like
Potent-Counter-Potent White Blue Crutch-like
Potent-en-Point White Blue Crutch-like
Papelonny Blazoned Blazoned Crescent
Plumetty Blazoned Blazoned Feathers

Figure 4: FURS

ERMINE

ERMINOIS

COUNTER-ERMINE

PEAN

VAIR

COUNTER-VAIR

VAIR-EN-POINT

VAIR IN PALE

POTENT

COUNTER-POTENT

POTENT-EN-POINT

PAPELONNY

PLUMMETY

Field Treatments Treatments are certain recognized patterns of contrasting tinctures. They may be applied to the field as Field Treatments, or to charges on the field as Treatments.

Table 7: FIELD TREATMENTS
Name Meaning
Fretty Interlaced diagonal lines
Grillage Like Fretty but set cross-wise
Honeycombed Hexagon lattice pattern
Maily Interlaced rings in a chain-mail pattern
Masoned A regular brick-like pattern
Scaly The SCA equivalent for the most commong
depiction of the Papellony field.

Figure 5: FIELD TREATMENTS AND SEMY

FRETTY (Field Treatment)

GRILLAGE (Field Treatment)

HONEYCOMBED (Field Treatment)

MAILY (Field Treatment)

MASONED (Field Treatment)

SEMY-DE-LYS (Semy)

MULLETY (Semy)

GOUTTY (Semy)

ANNULETTY (Semy)

BILLETY (Semy)

SEMY OF CRESCENTS (Semy)

ESTOILLY (Semy)

CRUSILLY (Semy)

Ordinaries
Ordinaries and subordinaries are standard heraldic geometric shapes placed in standard positions on the shield. Following are ordinaries and other charges that occupy a substantial portion of the field, with some notes on drawing them. The central ordinaries (fess, pale, bend, bend sinister, cross, saltire, pile and pall) are considered primary charges, and are named first in a blazon. The ordinaries around the rim (chief, base, bordure, and flaunches) are named after all of the central charges have been described. The other geometrical charges shown (dexter tierce, sinister tierce, gore, and gore sinister) are sometimes called ordinaries and sometimes blazoned first, but precedents, both mundane and Society are mixed.

The most common error in drawing ordinaries is to make them too small. They should be bold. The sizes listed under the shields provide a feel for what is reasonable - they are not hard and fast rules. An ordinary is drawn larger when it is itself charged with objects, to give them more room. It is drawn smaller if the field is charged and the ordinary is not, to give room to the charges on the field. An ancient convention for drawing bends showed them as an arc: a straight line drawn on an outward curving shield would actually look something like that, so it can be interpreted as an early form of perspective drawing.

A charge may surmount another, or be blazoned as overall. Overlying charges should be drawn boldly. An overall charge drawn to just barely overlap onto the field is poorly designed and should be redrawing. In general, underlying charges are drawn smaller to promote ready identification of the overall charge. Exceptions are overall central ordinaries: they are generally the ones drawn skinny, so the charge beneath can be identified.

The edges of an ordinary can also be specified with any of the partition lines. About a third of the ordinary’s width on each side is used for drawing the partition line. Thus, there will generally be more copies of the basic unit of the design on the edge of an ordinary than there are when it is used as a field partition. A fess or chevron embattled displays embattlements solely upon the upper edge. Further, there are two additional terms:

Counter-embattled (or embattled-counter-embattled) indicates offset embattlements on both sides of the ordinary; while brettessé indicates aligned embattlements on both sides of the ordinary.

The term fimbriated means that the charge mentioned in the blazon has a band of color or metal around its outside edge to separate it from the field where it would otherwise be indistinguishable. It is used presently to allow simple charges to be placed on the field color on color, or metal on metal, which is otherwise against the rules. There are some older devices which have very complex fimbriation (birds, animal heads) but this is no longer allowed. An ordinary that is cotised has an extra line, sometimes two around it. The cotise is typically one-fourth the width of the ordinary, see the examples on both this and the previous page.

When more than one copy of an ordinary is used, the blazon will specify how many, and will call that ordinary by a diminutive of its name. In the SCA “no diminutive of an ordinary can be borne singly.” this means that if the blazon says something like “Azure, a saltorel argent ...” or “Sable, on a bar Or ...”, the ordinary in question is drawn as a regular saltire or fess, larger or smaller as the rest of the design dictates. The scribe should remember that a field charged with several copies of an ordinary will have an odd number of pieces, and the first color mentioned is that of the two outside pieces.

Figure 6: ORDINARIES AND SUBORDINARIES

FESS
1/12 - 1/5 height

FESS COTISED
1/6 - 1/4 height

PALE
1/3 - 1/2 width

CROSS
1/10 - 1/4 height

BEND
1/10 - 1/3 width

BEND COTISED
1/10 - 1/3 width

BEND SINISTER
1/10 - 1/3 width

SALTIRE
1/10 - 1/4 width

GORE
1/5 - 1/3 area

GORE SINISTER
1/5 - 1/3 area

CHIEF
1/5 - 1/3 height

CHEVRON THROUGHOUT
or CHEVRON (MEDIEVAL)
1/6 - 1/4 width

CHEVRON (Modern)
1/6 - 1/4 width

CHEVRON COTISED
1/6 - 1/4 width

CHEVRON INVERTED
1/6 - 1/4 width

BORDURE
1/12 - 1/5 width

PALL
1/8 - 1/5 width

BASE
1/4 - 1/3 height

PILE
1/3 - 1/2 height

CHIEF TRIANGULAR
1/5 - 1/3 height

PILE INVERTED
1/3 - 1/2 height

FLAUNCHES
1/5 - 1/3 height

ANIMALS
The heraldic positions for animals are given in the next set of Figures (there are quite a few). Whenever a leg is off the ground, the scribe should draw the far leg as the one farthest from the ground: this shows the limbs to best advantage, without obscuring far limbs with near ones. In theory, any animal with four limbs can be blazoned with in these positions: for instance, a duck can be rampant, with wings out in front.

A griffin described “segreant” is drawn as rampant. This term is used only for griffins (for reasons unknown).

The continental herald-painters of all periods and the later English ones were quite concerned that a male animal not be emasculated. The very early English and late Victorian painters generally ignored the problem. Continental painters often painted the relevant parts red.

The details on animals can be done in contrasting color, particularly if the beast is the only or main charge. However, it is not wrong to use the tincture of the beast for the details. If particular details are to be painted a specific color that is not the default color, then the parts of the body that are to be this color are named. The default or most commonly used colors are listed at the end of each entry. The parts of which a scribe is likely to encounter are:


Figure 7: POSITIONS OF ANIMALS
Rampant
rampaging
ca. 1100-1400
Vertical back, down to leg; hind legs at right angles, forelegs towards chief, tail bent towards back, mouth closed
Rampant
rampaging
ca. 1450-1600
Back bendwise, legs maximally spread out; far leg is usually parallel to ground, but both hind legs may be, on ground
Salient
leaping
ca. 1562
Back slanted, forelegs at right angles, hind legs parellel, tail bent towards back
Salient
leaping
SCA and
modern form
Back slanted, forelegs together toward chief; hind legs together on ground; tail fills space
Passant
walking
traditional
Body fesswise, far foreleg up, near hind leg vertical, others parallel to ground, tail bent away from body
Passant
walking
modern
Similar to above, but three legs are firmly on ground
Statant
standing
All four legs on ground, tail usually not quite the same as passant
Sejant
sitting
 
Sejant erect
sitting up
 
Couchant
lying down
   
Dormant
sleeping
 

Head Couped
Neck cut off straight, couped
close if the head ends in
a straight line before the neck

Head Erased
Neck is cut off with three
ragged tufts for the edge

Head Cabossed (Caboshed)
Head is facing the viewer with
no neck visible

Figure 8: POSITIONS OF BIRDS
Position Name Attitude of Body Position of
Wings and Tail
Position of Head Position of Legs Comments
Displayed
wings spread,
tips up
British default
Displayed
Inverted

wings spread,
tips down
Continental default
Migrant
migrating
SCA creation
Close
standing,
wings closed
Note: Owls close
are gardant
Volant
flying
Birds can also fly
horizontally; wings can
be addorsed
Rising
taking off
See below for wing
positions
Wing Positions
for Rising

Elevated and Addorsed

Inverted and Addorsed

Displayed and Elevated

Displayed and Inverted
Medievally, no distinction made

Figure 9: POSITIONS OF FISH
Position Name Attitude of Body Position of Fish Position of Dolphin Comments
Naiant
swimming
 
Haurient
rising to
draw in air
British version
Urinant
diving
Belly to sinister
Embowed
curved
French haurient;
fish can also be
embowed fesswise

Figure 10: Variations of Body Attitudes
Combattant
for predators

Respectant
for others
Addorsed
back to back
Passant
Counter-Passant
Affronte
front view
Volant
for insects
Tergiant
back view

Figure 11: Variations of Head Positions
Gardant
for predators
and most other
animals

At Gaze
for deer
Regardant

Summary Of Heraldic Conventions and Drafting Style

The language of blazon does not specify some things that should be understood by the herald-painter. Some of these “unwritten laws” are written below. Many of the details of a charge are left to the imagination of the scribe or specific instructions from the armiger.

The Field

  1. Treat the bottom edge of a chief as the top of the shield when emblazoning the body of the shield.
  2. Partition lines should be large enough to be distinguished from a distance.
  3. A line of partition faces the more “honorable” position: the chief portion of the field “owns” the partition (refer to “The Field” for more information).

Placement of Charges

  1. A single charge is placed in the center of its area of the shield, large enough to fill it comfortably, covering about half of the total area allotted.
  2. If there is an ordinary dividing the field, two charges are placed one on either side: otherwise, their placement must be specified.
  3. Unless blazoned otherwise three charges are arranged two in chief, one in base. The one in base may be drawn somewhat larger. The recipient of the scroll may want all the charges to be the same size: ask that person if possible.
  4. Without an ordinary, six charges are arranged three, two, and one: otherwise, they are evenly distributed on either side of the ordinary.
  5. When there are several of the same charge, old carvings and manuscripts showed no two exactly alike. Renaissance and modern style has them close to identical.

Orientation of Charges

  1. Charges on an ordinary (usually) follow the orientation of that ordinary. For example, a charge on a pale is vertical, while a charge on a bend is bendwise (315°).
  2. Charges oriented as if they were on an ordinary are termed ordinary-wise. For example, a charge oriented vertically is pale-wise.
  3. Charges arranged on the shield in the place of an ordinary are in their normal aspect. Three trees in bend are each palewise, three dragons passant in bend are each fesswise.
  4. All charges face dexter, unless stated otherwise.
  5. Inanimate objects default to business end up. Exceptions are those that are generally used with the business end down: arrows, pheons, quills, spoons, Mjollnir hammers, anchors, plows, and so on.
  6. The default orientation for all geometric figures (mullet, lozenge, hexagon, and so on) is with a point to chief. The exception is charges based on rectangles.
  7. When two charges are in saltire, the first one mentioned is the one in bend, and then the other is the one in bend sinister.

Drawing Style for Charges

  1. All charges are drawn in their most recognizable aspect, either front-on or in profile, almost never trian aspect or three-quarter view. Dice are among the few charges normally drawn in perspective.
  2. Objects that have medieval forms and modern forms should be represented in the medieval form (SCA ruling).
  3. In pre-Tudor heraldry, charges were generally shown flat, without shading or modeling. It is a good model for modern style, as well. As Balfour-Paul puts it, “All confusing shadows, all dim and doubtful lines should be rejected.”
  4. Charges have a distinctive silhouette. This means they are often highly stylized, and conventionalized in outline. Thus, a lion is large-maned and narrow-waisted, with paws spread to show the claws to best advantage.
  5. A tree or plant should display its characteristics in a conventional form. A few oak leaves and acorns drawn boldly within the outline of the tree is more clearly “oak” than a naturalistic tree.

Coloring Charges

  1. One of the most common conventions is calling a roundel or goutte by a special name denoting its color. Table 1 lists these conventions.
  2. Minor details of animals and inanimate objects may be done in a more “lifelike” tincture. Details are more likely to be done in contrasting colors if the charges are few in number (generally three or less). The more charges, the less detail.
  3. In British heraldry, a lion (and by extension, any animal) is langued and armed gules, even when this violates the Rule of Tincture. If either the lion or the field is gules, he is armed and langued azure. In Continental heraldry, tongue and claws are generally the same color as the beast.
  4. Details in charges may be delineated in a contrasting tincture. Commonly the contrasting tincture used is either black or the tincture of the field. Period arms rolls seem about evenly divided in style. Some scrolls show everything outlined in ink, others have only the underside of the charges inked, and still others use only the field color for delineation. This outlining should not be confused with fimbriation, which is a much wider line of contrasting tincture around the edge of a simple charge when otherwise that charge would violate the Rule of Tincture. Fimbriation is always mentioned in the blazon if it is to be done.

Conventions for the Achievement

Medieval heraldic painters showed the shield helm and crest proportioned with the shield just over 2/5 of the total height. Proportions can also be done such that the bearer of the shield could reasonably wear the helm and crest depicted. See Figure 12 for some examples of what not to do.

When doing a scroll for a peerage or Royal peerage make every effort to consult with the recipient. There are many elements that may be used or left out, at the discretion of the recipient. For example, does the person want supporters or not? Do they want a helm, and if they do, what kind? The achievements associated with particular ranks are outlined elsewhere in this manual, but they are an upper limit. The recipient may choose to leave some out. Please ask.

Figure 12: COMMON MISTAKES AND BAD EXAMPLES
1) The crest and helmet should be turned in the same direction.

2) A shield with crest should not be displayed without mantling.
1) The helm should rest firmly on the shield, not float above it.

2) The mantling should go over the top of the helm.
1) The mantling needs a torse or coronet to hold it in place. 1) The mantling should cover the top of the helm, not hang from the torse.

2) These supporters are too small for the shield and are crowding it too much.

3) An insecure support for supporters.
1) When the arms include an ordinary, drawing the field couché (tilted) is poor practice.

Avoid mixing different styles in a single achievement. This example shows an early medieval helm with a Renaissance shield.
1) The charged ordinary should be wider.

2) The charges on the field do not fill the area alloted to them.
1) The bottom fo the chief should have been treated as the top of the shield for drawing the saltire.

2) The partition pattern cannot be clearly distinguished because there are too many copies of the pattern.
Arms should be drawn according to the rules of their country. This example shows a Japanese mon with a German-style achievement.

The Shield

  1. Use a heater shaped shield for most SCA achievements. The exact proportions can be varied to best display the arms. In the SCA, women have the option of using a lozenge shaped shield, but this is not required and medievally they were not restricted to such. St. John Hope notes that “the form of a shield is in itself entirely arbitrary and void of meaning.”
  2. Franklyn advises against displaying the shield couche, that is, tilted to dexter, when the arms have any ordinary in them. This style distorts the design: a pale looks like a fess, a cross looks like a saltire, and so on. Arms in the British style tend to have ordinaries, and are normally shown straight up and down. Continental style tends not to use ordinaries and arms are often shown couche without bad effect.

Crowns and Coronets

  1. The crown should rest firmly on the shield, not float above it.
  2. A crown alone was generally drawn in period as if it were as wide as the shield. A crown sized in proportion to the shield would be about a third of its width.
  3. A crown on a lozenge may be large, and balanced on the top of the lozenge, or smaller and rest around the top.
  4. A crown of four points has only three showing.
  5. A classic ducal coronet is "chased as jeweled" (that is, raised metal work in the shape of jewels), but not colored as if it were jeweled. It also does not imply ducal rank in mundane achievements, as it does in the SCA. SCA ducal coronets tend to look like the coronets people actually wear, and thus are not chased as jeweled.
  6. Crowns can be done in a flat style, which does not show the back of the crown, or a rounded style, which has pieces of the back part showing through. Flat style often shows the bottom of the crown curved up.
  7. Some people prefer that their own coronets be used.

Helm and Mantling

  1. Keep the size of the helm reasonable with respect to that of the shield. Look at actual shields and helms for reasonable proportions. Artistic style in period ranged from tiny to reasonable to enormous helms.
  2. A pot helm or quest helm was used on period achievements, current mundane practice is to use an armet or bascinet. Most SCA people wanting helms used on their scrolls prefer either their own helms or an idealized version of their helms. Ask.
  3. Drawn the mantling in a style in keeping with the rest of the scroll.
  4. Mantling should enhance the visibility of the shield, not obscure it. A good rule of thumb is to twist the mantling so that dark mantling is against light edges of the shield, and light mantling is against dark edges of the shield.
  5. When drawing mantling, keep the proportions of metal (lining) and color (outer surfaces) approximately equal.
  6. Mantling goes over the top of the helm: it does not hang from the torse.
  7. Mantling is used on scrolls for Grants, Peerages and Royal Peerages only.
  8. Renaissance (and later) convention is that the torse is six twists of cloth alternately metal and color. The first twist on the dexter side is metal. Anciently it varied from four to as many as eleven twists.
  9. The torse is generally the same tinctures as the mantling. However, if the arms have a strong secondary color and metal, they could be used for the torse colors.
  10. The torse holds the mantling on, or hides the joining of the crest to the helm. Thus, it should show a gentle curve, not a rigid bar. This is more of a mundane herald painter problem than an SCA one.
  11. If the coronet is being drawn on a helm leave off the torse.

Crests and Supporters

  1. Animal crests face the same direction the person in the helm is facing. Move the helm to best display the crest.
  2. Supporters should have something solid and appropriate to stand upon. For example, the sea is appropriate for a dolphin, but not for a lion: a strip of twisted paper or a banner edge is not solid enough for either.
  3. Human supporters generally face the spectator, beasts are generally upright and respectant.
  4. Supporters should be vigorous and forcibly occupy the space allotted, actively upholding the shield with their limbs, not leaning or sprawling.
  5. Supporters should not dwarf the shield, but should be large enough to see each other across the top without standing on tip-toe.

BIBLOGRAPHY

Sir James Balfour-Paul. Heraldry in Relation to Scottish History and Art, being the Rhind Lectures on Archeology for 1898. David Douglas, Edinburgh, 1900.

J.R. Brooke-Little. An Heraldic Alphabet. Arco Publishing, 1973.

Heather Child, Heraldic Design, a Handbook for Students. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1982

The Coat of Arms. Quarterly publication of The Heraldry Society, London.

Rodney Dennys. The Heraldic Imagination. Crown Books, 1975.

Baldwin of Erebor, editor. Precedents of the SCA College of Arms, Volume III: The Tenure of Karina of the Far West. 1983.

Baldwin of Erebor, editor. Precedents of the SCA College of Arms, Volume III: The Tenure of Wilhelm von Schlüssel. 1983.

A.C. Fox-Davies. A Complete Guide to Heraldry. Bonanza Books, 1978.

Julian Franklyn. Heraldry. A.S. Barnes & Co., New York, 1965.

Christopher and Adrian Lynch-Robinson. Intelligible Heraldry. Heraldic Book Co., Baltimore, 1948; reprinted 1967.

William Metzig. Heraldry for the Designer. Von Nostrand Reinhold Co.

Roger Milton. Heralds and History. Hippocrene Books, Inc., New York, 1978.

Ottfried Neubecker. Heraldry: Sources, Symbols and Meaning. McGraw-Hill, 1976.

W.H. St. John Hope. Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers. Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, London, reprinted 1936.

Wilhelm von Schlüssel. Rules for Heraldic Submissions. 1983.

Carl Alexander von Volborth. Little Manual of Heraldry, a Synoptical Approach. A monograph of The Augustan Society, inc., Torrance, CA, 1973.