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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    So, in order to represent the imperial family in my setting, I elected to use the eagle from the german imperial flag on a white background, which ran parallel to two blue stripes.

    When a friend of mine saw this, he pointed out that it was terrible flag design, and I can kind of understand where he's coming from.

    There are sort of rules for flag design, such as that it should be simple enough for a child to draw from memory and all that...

    Question is, should those rules for flag design apply to heraldry?
    Last edited by MonkeySage; 2018-02-12 at 02:48 PM.
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Are you kidding me....heraldry was heavily regulated You couldn't just slap just something on your coat of arms.
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    If I were a better artist, I woulda drawn my own eagle. :) But in the end, I felt alright with the decision I made. I mainly made sure it didn't break any rules; the white, a metal, against the blue, a color.
    Last edited by MonkeySage; 2018-02-12 at 03:02 PM.
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Whilst it would be a good idea for flags to be easy to draw - look around the world, a lot are not, therefore it's advice you can feel free to ignore.

    [I am British and you might be surprised how many people don't realise that the Union Jack (or Union Flag to purists) has a specific "way up" - it does not have mirror symmetry either vertially or horizonatally!]

    And while yes, European heraldry does have a lot of "rules" as to what colours can border what other colours, again these are the rules of European heraldry and have no reason to be followed in a fantasy world (and I am sure were ignored from time to time in European history, especially the further back one goes before they were quiet so codified).

    So, yes, flags that are hard to draw are a pain, and yes, heraldry as we know it has a lot of obscure rules - but there is no reason for you to feel bound by any of that.
    Last edited by Khedrac; 2018-02-12 at 04:33 PM.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Re: flags being easy to draw...

    Heavens, I wish more of the States of the USA had understood that rule. I think Texas is the only one that is a real flag, and that may be due to it having been an independent nation, first. Missouri's flag is three stripes with the Seal of Missouri in the middle. The Seal is not easy to draw. I can recognize it when I see it, but it has lots of fiddly details to the point I would be hard-pressed to DESCRIBE it in text.

    Missouri's flag is fairly typical of US States' flags.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by MonkeySage View Post
    So, in order to represent the imperial family in my setting, I elected to use the eagle from the german imperial flag on a white background, which ran parallel to two blue stripes.

    When a friend of mine saw this, he pointed out that it was terrible flag design, and I can kind of understand where he's coming from.

    There are sort of rules for flag design, such as that it should be simple enough for a child to draw from memory and all that...

    Question is, should those rules for flag design apply to heraldry?
    So, like this?

    Spoiler: Flag
    Show


    Looks fine to me. Yeah, the eagle is kind of complex, but it's not like other coats of arms weren't.

    And: modern rules for flag design aren't going to be relevant in all cases. Does it matter if a random peasant kid could theoretically draw the flag in a world where he's probably an illiterate farmer? Probably not.

    EDIT: Plus, it is fairly simple to draw. With full detail, no. But enough to make it clear what it is, sure. And I'll take unique, technically rule-breaking flags over Unadorned Tricolor #182 any day.
    Last edited by PersonMan; 2018-02-12 at 06:03 PM.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    1. ) Rules of heraldry are fun and i tend to use them when designing coats of arms and frags in pseudo-European fantasy settings.

    2.) The rules do not state that flags have to be simple. Quite a lot of historic flags clearly are not.

    3.) Most of the rules do have purpose. The bordering color rules tend to force contrasts. The rules about allowed colors make sure that flags and coats of arms are still recognizable when they bleach out in the sun or when you don't have the exact same kind of pigment ready. The rules on figures and position make sure that you can recognice a coat of arms based on a description or that you could draw one from description alone without needing an original as template.

    Yes, later and especcially for sea travel the simple flags and tricolors really became popular but i rarely use them as i rarely play in appropriate periods. However simply showing literally the "colors" instead of the proper ccomplete complicated design is still common as a means of identification. There is a reason why colors became a shorthand for flags.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    This is the actual coat of arms of Philip I of Castille:


    There's no way you're accidentally going to top that.

    Even for a flag your design doesn't sound that weird.
    Last edited by Lvl 2 Expert; 2018-02-13 at 04:56 AM.
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    There's a few major points to understand about flag design and heraldry, a lot of which mirror each other quite nicely. The first is that there's not really a single list of best practices for either, the lists themselves vary. The second is that there's a bit of a gap between best and actual practices in both cases. The third is that the rules for flags are very much not the rules for heraldry.

    Good flags are often bad heraldry, good heraldry are often bad flags, and bad flags and heraldry abound. Just look at national (or better yet provincial) flags and compare them to any list of recommendations. Then consider that heraldry was much more variant and had room to be yet worse.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    The sadlamb at the bottom evokes the poor sod who had to draw that hot mess in the pre-CTRL+X/C/V era.

    Hopefully he had a stencil.

    Or at least a strong rope.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Just a thing: in heraldry, you don't need to reproduce the "animal" perfectly. If it's a two-headed eagle, then it can be drawn in very different styles, but, as long as it's a two-headed eagle that is facing the right direction and doing the same thing, with the same main colours, then it's OK.

    I don't know if flags actually have rules.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    The sadlamb at the bottom evokes the poor sod who had to draw that hot mess in the pre-CTRL+X/C/V era.

    Hopefully he had a stencil.

    Or at least a strong rope.
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Is that just his entire family tree in one flag? From what I understand, you quarter a flag to show two family heritages. Did he just quarter the flag repeatedly to show three generations of his ancestry?
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    As far as a flag or standard goes it is fine. But it is a little bare for a heraldric flag of an imperial family. Even if they were up and comings there should be more in terms of history, comedy, and maybe gravitas. Then again, this is for a campaign and it really comes down to effort. Don't put in more effort than what you want too.
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    And while yes, European heraldry does have a lot of "rules" as to what colours can border what other colours, again these are the rules of European heraldry and have no reason to be followed in a fantasy world (and I am sure were ignored from time to time in European history, especially the further back one goes before they were quiet so codified).
    Well, the rules will vary with the history of the society, sure. But some of these rules have reasons to them. A utilitary coat of arms has to be simple enough to describe and recognise, for example. And they have to be easily told apart from a distance on a battlefield, when knights have been trampling blood-soaked mud and waving heavy metal sticks at each other for half and hour.

    IIRC, that's the reason why most coats of arms alternate white/yellow ("metals") and blue/red/purple/black/green ("colours", or émaux) : putting metal-on-metal (yellow on white) or colour-on-colour (green on red, for example) is messy when seen from a distance, while a red symbol on white background can be recognised miles away.

    Of course, for a peacetime imperial flag, I guess the ego (oops, sorry, the "long and proud lineage") of the nobleman becomes a more important factor than utilitarism, esthetics, and common sense ^^
    Last edited by Kardwill; 2018-02-13 at 07:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Is that just his entire family tree in one flag? From what I understand, you quarter a flag to show two family heritages. Did he just quarter the flag repeatedly to show three generations of his ancestry?
    If you are referring to Philip I, he became king of Castille by marrying the queen of Castille. In the coat of arms, he has both his original holdings (Burgundy & some more, upper right, lower left) and Castille (upper left, lower right).

    The sad lamb is actually the symbol of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which had been founded by Philip's great grandfather, Philip the Good, Coolest Man North of the Alps.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Is that just his entire family tree in one flag? From what I understand, you quarter a flag to show two family heritages. Did he just quarter the flag repeatedly to show three generations of his ancestry?
    out of my memory :

    Top left and bottom right is basically Spain. You can easily recognize the Spanish kingdoms of Castille, Leon and Aragon. Castille and Leon had been together for longer which is why they share a quater of that quater. The union between Castille and Aragon was still quite new and people did not necessarily think of Spain as Spain. Navarra is missing, but the figure Granada is also included as sign of the successful reconquista.

    Now Phillip is known as (rather short lived) King of Spain, but only because he married the heiress of Spain. Before he did so, he was already an archduke and a duke of Burgundy and the son of the Holy Roman Emporer and thus of the house Habsburg. the blue parts are Burgundy. I would have to look up the black and the yellow lion but i think that were some small countries near the north sea. Not sure about the red eagle.

    Top right and bottom left is what was is own coat of arms before the marriage. Easily even nowadays recognizable are the colors of Austria hinting at the Habsburg connection.


    So overall it is less of a family tree and more a whole bunch of different titles and crowns being held by the very same person all referrenced in his personal coat of arms.


    And yes, that is the coat of arms for himself as a person containing all his individual stuff. The coat of arms of all the various countries he was souvereign over were obviously far simpler.




    P.S. After looking it up, the Lions are for Brabant and Flanders and the red/white stripes for Lothier, all of which he also was a duke of. Still haven't found the eagle. It looks a bit like the Brandenburg eagle but he hasn't held that title.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2018-02-13 at 10:07 AM.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Heavens, I wish more of the States of the USA had understood that rule. I think Texas is the only one that is a real flag, and that may be due to it having been an independent nation, first. Missouri's flag is three stripes with the Seal of Missouri in the middle. The Seal is not easy to draw. I can recognize it when I see it, but it has lots of fiddly details to the point I would be hard-pressed to DESCRIBE it in text.
    Yeah, that's not a thing with heraldry/coat of arms. Mermaids, snakes, hearts, lions, dragons, griffins, that weird buer thing, etc. all get hard to draw if you don't know what you are doing.

    As for the flag, the two colors makes me think this Imperial family arose from two different houses, much like the Tudor Rose. I'd figure out what the family wants to represent and what their history is and go from there.

    I mean, it's the imperial family. They could probably just plain rewrite the rules (and maybe they did, to force others to come to them for a new coat of arms) because suck my imperious ding-dong. That way, you can make your OWN rules and not worry about the rules which probably varied from country to country because being simple isn't a thing heraldry does.
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Flags are included in the laws of heraldry, but the rules for ensigns (flags) are not the same as the rules for coats of arms.

    They also differ by nation, and over time. Heraldry is a deep, complicated subject.
    Last edited by Jay R; 2018-02-13 at 01:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    I imagine State Seals are much more associated with Heraldry than modern flag design is (supposed to be). The big issue is that flags need to be easily identified without having to squint at them across thousands of feet as they wave in the wind. Heraldry could be more complex because you didn't need to identify it from that far away, typically. It was more a substitute for facial recognition when your face is covered by a helm.

    Were I to redesign the Missouri State Flag, it would be a blue top and a red bottom, but not neatly divided by a horizontal line. Instead, a white arch would have its legs planted in the lower corners and rise up to just below or to touching the top of the flag, blue below it, red above it. Giving a look of a sunset over water as seen through the St. Louis Arch, perhaps one of the most iconic monuments in Missouri.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Hey, at least you did better than the old flag for the city of Pocatello, Idaho



    Yes. That is supposed to be a flag.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    P.S. After looking it up, the Lions are for Brabant and Flanders
    And don't you forget it. For the duke!

    (I first tried to google for the coat of arms on the castle of said duke near here, because I know that is a bit of a mix and match monstrosity as well, but It doesn't beat this one by a long shot.)
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Re: flags being easy to draw...

    Heavens, I wish more of the States of the USA had understood that rule. I think Texas is the only one that is a real flag, and that may be due to it having been an independent nation, first. Missouri's flag is three stripes with the Seal of Missouri in the middle. The Seal is not easy to draw. I can recognize it when I see it, but it has lots of fiddly details to the point I would be hard-pressed to DESCRIBE it in text.

    Missouri's flag is fairly typical of US States' flags.
    Maryland's is a real flag too, and it's probably the most relevant to the conversation since it uses the heraldry of the founding families of the colony. And New Mexico's flag could probably work as a Nation's flag very easily. It's a lot like Japan's flag, but with a different symbol and color scheme.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    As long as we're talking U.S. flags I do have to throw in for Colorado. Beyond that NM, AZ, Hawaii and yes, somehow, Alabama all have reasonably acceptable flags. Ohio's is also no worse than the national flag, design wise.

    The rest are pretty much all garbage as flags.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    The rest are pretty much all garbage as flags.
    Y'all need to learn how to draw at this point. Just learn how to draw a stupid bear for crying out loud.

    Through could the emperor have a simpler flag and a fancy-dancy seal AND some healdry? Maybe some spare healdry for the wives and children.
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    Y'all need to learn how to draw at this point. Just learn how to draw a stupid bear for crying out loud.

    Through could the emperor have a simpler flag and a fancy-dancy seal AND some healdry? Maybe some spare healdry for the wives and children.
    It's two stupidly detailed bears over a shield with its own heraldry, some laurels, and a drawing of a scrollwork label hovering over it. It's a SEAL, not a flag. It's stupid as a flag.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It's two stupidly detailed bears over a shield with its own heraldry, some laurels, and a drawing of a scrollwork label hovering over it. It's a SEAL, not a flag. It's stupid as a flag.
    It's a reference to the flag of California, which is just a bear. It shows up in an upgraded form in Fallout. I do wonder if California just decided on the bear thanks to committee...'No, we are NOT putting drugs on the flag!'.

    And you have to admit, empires are best with a degree of opulence. If you are going to have to put in so much work in oppressing the lower classes without getting their filth on you, you need things like a 50-foot statue of an eagle that can shoot flames. That imperial family needs some motifs, or the peasants will forget who owns them!
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    It's a reference to the flag of California, which is just a bear. It shows up in an upgraded form in Fallout. I do wonder if California just decided on the bear thanks to committee...'No, we are NOT putting drugs on the flag!'.

    And you have to admit, empires are best with a degree of opulence. If you are going to have to put in so much work in oppressing the lower classes without getting their filth on you, you need things like a 50-foot statue of an eagle that can shoot flames. That imperial family needs some motifs, or the peasants will forget who owns them!
    Oh, sure. I'm complaining about the Missouri flag, still.

    It's one of those that, even as a kid, I thought, "That doesn't...look right...as a flag." It's only been as a grown-up that I've been able to place why.

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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    ...Of course, I had to google the Missouri flag as I have never been there. And I'd like to point out that the bears are not drawn in the same way twice.
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    Default Re: Flag design vs Heraldry, an odd conversation with a friend.

    There is a story that California was supposed to have a pear, not a bear, but the communication was misread, and the fact was later accepted as done.

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