New Traceable Images

Over three hundred and fifty images have been added to the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art since the November update, drawn from a variety of sources.

The set I’m most excited about is the first batch of 94 images from Torric inn Björn’s Heraldic Templates, which was published in 1992 and, as far as I know, is the earliest collection of art distributed specifically to facilitate tracing in construction of society armory. My sincere thanks to Lord Torric for granting permission for these images to be re-published here.

This booklet offers far more potential than its 56-page size would suggest, because it contains elements which can be recombined in multiple ways; for example, it contains a few illustrations of deer in various postures as well as examples of various types of antlers that can be mixed and matched together to create stags, elk, and reindeer in those positions. Þórý Veðardóttir has helpfully worked through a number of these combinations, ringing the changes on postures of dragons, wyverns, cockatrices and basilisks. We’ve got dozens more  of these images still to process, and I look forward to getting them all online in the months ahead.

Another source of new images in this last round has been John Guillim’s 1611 A Display of Heraldry. While its engraved style with extensive shading contrasts with the pen-and-ink outline style used in most society submissions, the images are useful patterns for tracing that (with a bit bit of adaptation) can be used digitally as well, and I enjoy seeing material that dates from so close to our period of study. I’m particularly fond of his Dr. Seuess-ish eel and turkey.

I’m also continuing to work through the images from the 2007 Pennsic Traceable Art book, which yields over a dozen heraldic dog postures newly added to the collection this month, and from the Viking Answer Lady’s SVG Images For Heralds collection, which helped fill out some more of the many varieties of heraldic crosses.

The further I get into this, the more I realize how much remains to be done, so I’m looking forward to a productive new year as the collection continues to grow.

Traceable Art Fall Update

I needed some time off after the big push to get the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art into shape for Pennsic, but have made a bit of continuing progress on it this autumn.

We’re now up over 950 pages of traceable illustrations, and should blow past a thousand pages before the end of the year. (It’s amusing to note that at the start of the year I thought a thousand pages was likely to be the end point of the project — at the current rate, we could plausibly reach two thousand somewhere in the next couple of years.)

I’m also working on a new printable “catalog” layout that allows people to easily scan through design elements at a consultation table — it packs most of the tinctures, divisions, and charges into a compact format that’s a bit over fifty pages rather than a thousand.

The catalog layout still needs some cleaning up around the edges — I’m using a Perl script to rearrange the SVGs and metadata from the original document into a series of web pages which are then converted to PDFs via JavaScript and Chrome, which seems kind of jury-rigged but so far seems to mostly work.

Traceable Art at Pennsic

The Book of Traceable Heraldic Art made its premier appearance at Pennsic’s Heralds’ Point art tent this year.

I brought printouts of the full thousand-plus page collection with me, which was sleeved into page protectors by the volunteers at the point. While the new collection is not yet complete enough to retire the old Pennsic Traceable Art book, I was pleased to see that it was of practical use for many of the hundreds of armory submissions generated this year.

Throughout the week of activity, the team in the art tent generated useful notes about areas that needed more work, and as the Point was closing up, Signora Beatrice Domenici della Campana and Master Kryss Kostarev took several hours of their time to sit with me and systematically work through the first 430 pages identifying designs which needed correction or could be safely omitted from the version to be used on site next year.

I look forward to incorporating that feedback and continuing to expand the collection over the coming year.

Traceable Art Update For April

I’ve continued adding charges to the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art, drawing from both the Pennsic Traceable Art collection and from period sources, and it’s now up to over 800 pages of illustrations.

Of these, I’m particularly fond of this image of a tent from Guillim’s Display of Heraldry (1611).

There’s also a new External Resources page that lists charges which are found in the PTA or PicDic but do not have corresponding images in this collection, and a Contributing page with some preliminary notes about how to send in your own art for inclusion.

More (and Less!) Traceable Art

There have been a bunch of incremental improvements to the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art in the last few weeks:

  • I’ve continued to add images to the collection, so it’s now over 700 pages of traceable illustrations.
  • I’ve been sourcing more charges from historical rolls of arms, like this key from the Derring roll (c. 1270) and the Schnecke from Siebmacher’s Wappenbuch (1605).
  • There’s a new abridged version available for download that leaves out some of the mirror-image alternatives and artistic variations, producing a PDF with 10% fewer pages for folks who want to have less to haul to events in the field.
  • New “see also” links on some pages lead you to the matching entries in the PicDic and Pennsic Traceable Art libraries, so you can review alternative design options.
  • For the nerdiest folks who might be interested in how the site is built, there’s a new Build Scripts page which explains how a 2,000-line Perl program converts the book’s PDF files into a series of web pages.

I’m still working on a process to streamline artists’ contributions of images, but if you’re interested please feel free to reach out and introduce yourself and we’ll get the ball rolling.

More Traceable Art

I’ve made a number of changes to the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art recently:

  • I’ve finished incorporating the last of the 74 images I received from the Pennsic Bored-Artist Collection.
  • I’ve added a couple dozen more images from historical sources, including Bossewell’s book of 1572 and Guillim’s from 1611.
  • Many more of the items have downloadable PNG and SVG clip art files.
  • The online index does a better job of cross-referencing items under multiple terms; for example “Stalk of Wheat” is indexed under both “Stalk” and “Wheat.”

Traceable Art Update

As I mentioned recently an effort is underway, led by Lady Þórý Veðardóttir, to update and expand upon the Pennsic Traceable Art collection in order to facilitate emblazoning of armory submissions at Pennsic and other SCA events.

I’ve been working on a draft document that combines field divisions and ordinaries were from a collection of heraldic elements I had been assembling, along with a number of charges picked up from other sources, including the original Pennsic Traceable Art book, illustrations by the volunteers of the Pennsic Heralds’ Point Art Tent, and several publicly-available sources, including the Viking Answer Lady‘s collection of SVG elements.

Field divisions and ordinaries are drawn at precisely the scale used for SCA armory submissions, while mobile charges are included in a range of sizes so they can be used as primary, secondary, or tertiary charges.

The collection numbers over five hundred pages, but is far from complete; I expect it to wind up somewhere over a thousand pages.

There are PNG and SVG versions of some of the items; eventually these should be available for every field and charge.

There is a alphabetical index for the full collection as well as a table of contents, both of which allow you to download individual pages in PDF format, as well as the PNG and SVG images where available.

You can also find separate tables of contents for each “volume,” which are organized by category:

  • Volume 1: Fields, including furs, field treatments, and semys.
  • Volume 2: Complex lines.
  • Volume 3: Field divisions.
  • Volume 4: Ordinaries and their diminutives.
  • Volume 5: Geometric shapes, heavily bodies, features of the earth, and assorted symbols.
  • Volume 6: Tools and man-made objects.
  • Volume 7: Plants, including fruits, seeds, and leaves, as well as mushrooms.
  • Volume 8: People and animals.

Additionally there are a few odds and ends that are related but not part of the core traceable art collection:

  • Visual Reference: Contains a number of pages of small side-by-side images of field divisions and charges, for use on a consultation desk to help show clients some of the choices and explain specialized terminology.
  • Reference Posters for Consultation Sites: These are posters containing examples of field divisions, ordinaries, complex lines, charges and arrangements designed to be hung at a consultation site for easy reference by clients. Designed to be printed on tabloid-sized sheets (17″ x 22″), but may also be printed on regular 8.5″ x 11″ paper for desktop use.
  • Consultation Worksheets: includes items that may be useful for on-site armory consultation, including doodle sheets, alternate display outlines like the lozenge, and drawing grids to assist with spacing charges.

If you have a recent version of the drawing application OmniGraffle (Mac only, $99) you can download the original working documents for each volume to use the elements to assemble armory electronically.

A Traceable Resource for Armory Illustration

While I’m happy to do most of my armory design on a computer, there are times when you need to be able to put together a device or badge submission entirely offline, most notably at Pennsic and other large multi-day events.

Some folks have both an encyclopedic knowledge of heraldic art and the freehand illustration skills necessary to produce quality designs unassisted, but many people with less experience or weaker drawing abilities — and those who, like me, have both of those challenges — depend on references like the PicDic and the Pennsic Traceable Art collection.

I recently heard about an effort led by Noble Þórý Veðardóttir to update the Pennsic Traceable Art book to clean up some of the rough scans, include additional material, and otherwise upgrade this useful tool, and have thrown myself into the effort.

I’m terrible at freehand drawing, but am able to tackle the digital illustration and page layout side of things, so I’ve jumped in and drafted a bunch of printable heraldic elements, scaled so that they’re ready to be traced over (perhaps using a lightbox) to help speed the process of creating devices and badges.

I’m pleased to share a rough draft of the first set of illustrations resulting from this work: a set of common field treatments, divisions, and ordinaries, all drawn at the exact scale used for SCA heraldry submissions.

None of the material here is particularly complicated or unique, and any experienced herald painter could reproduce most of this in minutes with just a pen and a straightedge, but hopefully this will help make things a little easier and save a bit of time for folks dealing with the crush of hundreds of submissions processed at Pennsic every year.