Tracing Heraldic Art in Clip Studio

In this video class for Ansteorra King’s College, Lady Elionora inghen Ui Cheallaigh provides an in-depth tutorial on tracing examples of armory from scans or photographs to produce digital images which can be used by the reenactment community.

The primary application used here is Clip Studio (Windows/Mac, $50) but the techniques are generally applicable to most other modern digital illustration software. There’s also some brief discussion of related tools, including how to convert images to vector art and assemble complete devices in Inkscape.

Examples of some of the other art that Lady Elionora has traced can be found on her artist’s page at the Traceable Art site.

A Technique For Internal Detailing On Sable Clip-Art Charges

A recurring challenge when illustrating armory that contains complex sable charges is how to handle the internal detailing that is often provided by fine black lines within a charge of any other color, but which disappears when the charge itself is black.

For example, consider the clip art pomegranate shown below. If we color it entirely black, as shown in image 2, the internal detailing disappears and it’s difficult to identify — is this a roundel wearing a crown? One viable approach is to use a dark gray color for the fill, as in image 3, which allows us to still see some details, but sometimes that’s not enough contrast, and there are contexts in which using shades of gray like this isn’t a viable approach. Continue reading “A Technique For Internal Detailing On Sable Clip-Art Charges”

A Survey Of Online Armorial Clip Art Sources

[Editor’s Note: This post draws heavily on an FAQ document produced over the course of several years by multiple users in the SCA Heraldry Unofficial Chat Facebook Group. My thanks to the many people who helped create this resource. — Mathghamhain]

The SCA College of Arms does not have a master list of all registrable charges — we add new ones all the time, and we remove others that are determined to be not something found in period heraldry — but these resources can give you a good idea what’s out there, and provide ready-to-use art for those who can draw original illustrations on their own.

You can incorporate these images directly in your armorial illustrations or use them as references when drawing new original art. Continue reading “A Survey Of Online Armorial Clip Art Sources”

A Survey of Digital Tools for Armory Illustration

[Editor’s Note: This post draws heavily on a FAQ document produced over the course of several years by multiple users in the SCA Heraldry Unofficial Chat Facebook Group. My thanks to the many people who helped create this resource. — Mathghamhain]

There are a wide variety of electronic tools that can be used for illustrating armory at all stages of the process — sketching out ideas, filling out submission forms, and displaying registered designs.

Each of these programs has both strong points and limitations, and a learning curve associated with getting familiar with the user interface and feature set. There are tutorials and documentation available for each of them online, including web pages and YouTube videos. Continue reading “A Survey of Digital Tools for Armory Illustration”

Using DrawShield for Emblazons

DrawShield is a web service that allows rapid generation of armorial images by either entering a blazon or choosing elements in a point-and-click interface.

It’s an automated system, so the results often aren’t as polished as you can produce by assembling elements yourself, or as unique as the custom work of a talented heraldic artist, but it’s fast and easy, and doesn’t require any tools other than a web browser, so it’s a great option for casual users to try out different possibilities and quickly mock up options for discussion.

Hundreds of charges from the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art have been converted to DrawShield elements, so users of the Traceable collection may recognize some images they encounter there, and DrawShield users can find additional variations of charges here if they wish to further embellish a design they started in that system.

Using GIMP for Emblazons

Jehanette de Provins, Her Majesty the Queen of Northshield, teaches classes on how to create armorial images using GIMP and images from the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art, and recently recorded a session for viewers at home.

GIMP is an open-source software package for pixel-based illustration, in the same vein as Paint and Photoshop. As a Mac user, I find the interface to be a bit clunky, but it’s free, it includes a lot of features, and it runs on a wide variety of operating systems, which makes it a useful tool.

Make sure to turn your volume up to follow the presentation!

OSCAR Color Gamuts

While there are a wide range of colors that can be used for digital renditions of heraldic art, the set of colors that gets discussed most often in the context of SCA submissions is the one used for OSCAR’s “color checker” display.

When armory images are uploaded to OSCAR, color-checker thumbnails are generated which convert each area to one of these standard tinctures. This doesn’t mean you should use those specific colors in your graphics, but it does simplify things if the colors in your image are not transformed incorrectly.

The tinctures used by OSCAR’s color-checker thumbnails are shown in dashed circles below, with outlines delimiting the range of colors that are converted to each of those targets.

(Click for a larger image, or download a printable PDF.)

While the color-checking process usually goes smoothly, there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Warm golds (containing more red than green) can end up being rendered as orange or brown.
  • Warm browns can develop streaks or splotches of red.
  • Blues and purples can become ambiguous if they come too close to the violet boundary.
  • Although not apparent on this chart, fine-line details, like black outlines within a charge or around an argent charge in a fieldless badge, can disappear entirely, so it’s better if the overall silhouettes of your charges are still recognizable without that detailing.

Many thanks to Elena Wyth for the experimentation which allowed these OSCAR ranges to be estimated.

The Submission Escutcheon

A recent question on a society heraldry Facebook group about the dimensions of the escutcheon on the submission forms reminded me that I never posted the comparison outline I put together last year showing how it diverges from the geometric construction typically used to create this “heater shield” shape.

The most common technique for drawing a heraldic escutcheon, shown in red below, is to lay out a rectangle which is three times as wide as it is tall, then add a pair of quarter circles below it, enclosing the area where they overlap.

The escutcheon on the society’s submission forms, shown in black below, is slightly different; the curve starts lower and then pinches in more steeply.

I don’t know if there’s a concrete reason these curves are different; it may have been an accident, or an aesthetic judgement by the illustrator, or perhaps there’s some other explanation that’s been lost in the mists of time.

The difference is relatively small, but it’s enough to bite you if you use a computer to create field divisions or peripheral ordinaries or the like. Submissions which do not use the precise escutcheon shape from the form are likely to be rejected.

I haven’t found a geometric construction that precisely matches the submission form, but I’ve very carefully traced the outline from the form so that I can create heraldic clip art that matches it.

For the curious, the whitespace inside the escutcheon is a couple of hundredths of an inch over 5″ wide, and a couple of hundredths of an inch less than 6″ tall. After adding a two-point outline (2/72″) around the edge, the solid black outline is 5.06″ x 6.06″.

The diagram above is available as a PDF; you’re welcome to print it out and hold it up behind a copy of the submission form to confirm that the outlines match up precisely.

Folks who are creating digital submissions might be able to save some time by reusing the outline I’ve traced, either with the alignment tick marks (SVG vector, 300 DPI PNG) or without them (SVG vector, 300 DPI PNG).