Monday, November 20, 2006

A Coat of Arms – An Easy Way to Design and Make It

Designing and making your own Coat of Arms is an interesting and enjoyable project. The Coat of Arms could be for your family or as a present. It will make a distinctive and original gift.

You can choose whether it will be funny or more traditional. A Coat of Arms can be an unusual leaving present for a co-worker.

What theme?

The Coat of Arms can be themed to a particular event or hobby –

Hobby or special interest – golf, fishing, cooking
Life event – graduation, winning a particular contest
Humorous – funny episodes in life, the person’s quirks

Begin by choosing a background shape for the Coat of Arms. A shield shape is traditional; however choose a shape that matches the person it is for. You could have a heart shaped one for a young girl or for someone who is getting married.

Then select the items that will be included in the Coat of Arms. This could be very simple - for example a couple of crossed tennis racquets - or fairly elaborate depending on your theme.

The final size of the Coat of Arms will restrict the number of items you can include. A smaller ‘letterhead’ size Coat of Arms may only have one or two things, but one painted onto a canvas could include a lot more items and extra detail.

Placing for a great result

If you’re only using one item it would probably be placed centrally. For two items you could place them side by side or one to the top and the other to the bottom. When a Coat of Arms has four items they are often placed in the four quadrants which have been sectioned off with lines.

Clip art is a handy way to select the different things to include in your Coat of Arms. Copy and Paste a range of suitable items onto one page and then make your final selection from these.

When you are making a Coat of Arms for a particular person you can include the things that they like to do. My husband is a teacher, he likes golf, fishing and does a lot of DIY. A traditional Coat of Arms for him could be a shield shape divided into four quadrants. The sections could have –

A mortar board
Golf clubs
A cross shape made from a hammer and screwdriver

For a smaller, less formal one I could use a golf ball shape background with a diagonal cross made of a fishing rod and a golf club. There could also be a motto like “Life’s too short to work!” or something similar.

A good theme for a funny Coat of Arms would be to choose things that represent silly episodes in their life. You can really get creative with your items!

Making it up

To make up your Coat of Arms draw in the background shape and place your items for a pleasing result. You could add a motto at the bottom as well. Using computer fonts for this will ensure that the lettering, and the spacing between the letters, is perfect.

If you have done this in a computer program you could print it out. Remember that most computer inks will fade over time if left in the sunlight.

Alternatively you could trace and paint the Coat of Arms onto a canvas panel. For a larger one you can print out sections of the Coat of Arms onto several pages of computer paper and join them together. Trace this onto a canvas panel or stretched canvas and paint it – I like to use acrylic paints because they are water based and quick and easy to use.

**A large Coat of Arms on a stretched canvas is an impressive gift.**

If you have made a family Coat of Arms you could add it to your letterhead, or print it onto the front of cards for your own personalized stationery.

This is a great project that you will enjoy doing either by yourself or with others. Be sure to give it a try.

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