This article was co-authored by Renée Plevy. Renée Plevy is an Internationally Acclaimed Portrait Artist from New York/Palm Beach who has painted The Grand Dames of Palm Beach and various celebrities and community leaders. With over 50 years of experience, Renée specializes in painting realistically in oil and capturing the soul of the person. She has studied under internationally renowned portrait artists John Howard Sanden, David Leffel, Robert Beverly Hale, Clyde Smith, and Leonid Gervits. Renée is featured in over 68 shows and galleries including a one-woman museum show at the Paterson Museum. She has garnered numerous awards including “Artist of the Year” from The Bloomfield Art League and First Prize from the Boca Raton Museum Artist’s Guild. Renée has even painted a portrait of celebrity, Vanilla Ice. She also teaches at the Boca Raton Museum Art School - formerly at SVA in Manhattan.
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People who are interested in genealogy will often conduct intense searches to fill in the gaps of their family tree. If you are interested in genealogy, you may find out that your ancestors had their own coat of arms. However, you may discover that you are either unable to find your family's coat of arms or perhaps you simply find the idea and symbolism fascinating. With an understanding of the elements of a coat of arms and the symbolism behind these designs, you can create your own coat of arms!
Method 1Method 1 of 4:Designing Your Shield Download Article
- 1Begin by choosing the shape of the shield. Shields are often shaped like an upside down triangle with a slight curvature of the vertical lines. Feel free to be creative and change the shape to whatever you desire! For some inspiration, try experimenting with drawing different shapes or conduct a Google search to look up the various shapes of shields.
- The shapes of shields generally represent different eras. For example, the 11th and 12th centuries used a triangle with curved corners and the early 13th century shaped their shields similar to a guitar pick.XResearch source
- 2Choose the divisions of the shield. "Divisions" refers to how the shield is segmented or what shapes go on the shield. For example, you may want to section the shield into three parts. Perhaps you want to add three diamonds horizontally across the shield. There are numerous ways to divide the shield. When designing your own, you can reference classic heraldry or choose your own design.XResearch sourceAdvertisement
- 3Choose the shield's color. In some cases, depending on how you want to display your shield, you may use different colors in the various divisions of your shield. You can also choose to not divide the shield at all and simply use one color or no colors at all.XResearch source
- If you choose to use color, you could use colors such as bright red, royal or sky blue, emerald green, royal purple, black.
- If you choose to go for a metallic shield, gold or silver are your best bets.
Method 2Method 2 of 4:Embellishing the Shield Download Article
- 1Select the charges for your shield. The designs on the shield are known as charges. You can use animals, flowers, stars, crescent moons, sunbursts, or mythological creatures. Most animals are shown to be two-dimensional, meaning that they look flat and only the characteristics that distinguish them as an animal, like tails, are obvious.
- The most common animals used on shields include lions, bears, boars, eagles, horses, dragons, and griffins.
- 2Choose the colors for your charges. Traditionally speaking, if you chose a metallic color for your shield, then you should use a color for your charges and vice versa. In classic heraldry, different colors symbolize different traits. However, feel free to use the colors that you would like to use, since this is your own design.
- Gold or yellow symbolize generosity.
- Silver or white represent peace and serenity.
- Blue represents truth and loyalty.
- Red represents a warrior or military strength.
- Green represents hope and joy.
- Black represents grief or constancy.
- Purple represents royalty or justice.
- Orange represents ambition.
- Maroon represents patience in battle yet achieving victory.XResearch source
- 3Decide the posture for your charges. The charges on a coat of arm can appear in different postures, depending on how you want to represent yourself. If your charges are animals or creatures, they will appear on your shield as they would naturally, standing on their hind legs, standing on hind legs face turned toward you, walking, lying down, or sitting.
- Charges that are standing are generally regarded as more alert, fierce, and prepared for battle, whereas seated charges generally symbolize peacefulness and serenity.
Method 3Method 3 of 4:Choosing Your Accessories Download Article
- 1Choose accessories to add to the outside of your shield. Lay out the rest of your coat of arms by choosing from the different parts and accessories. This could be a crown symbol, plants or flowers, weaponry, or something that you believe symbolizes yourself or your family.XResearch source
- If you love flowers, you could incorporate flower, vines, or plant designs all around your shield.
- You could incorporate flames for a more powerful vibe.
- 2Decide on the helm. The item that sits on top of the shield is the helm. For example, some people use a coronet, which is similar to the pillow that the king's helmet sits on. The coronet would rest on the shield.
- You could draw a soft bed of vines or plants or not even draw a helm at all.
- 3Pick a helmet. If you choose to use a coronet as part of your crest, the helmet will sit on the coronet. The can be of almost any style. Feel free to be creative! Depending on the style of helmet, there may be a crest atop the helmet. This crest often includes something like the head of a rooster or stag. It varied from family to family, and whether the family was of higher peerage.
- There are various styles of helmets that you can draw, such as the Ancient helmet, the Ancient Roman helmet, or the Barrel helmet.XResearch source
- If you are unsure what to draw for a helmet, conduct a Google search of helmets used in coats of arms and browse through the thousands of websites and images for inspiration.
- 4Pick out your mantling. Mantling refers to the leaves that usually attach to the top of the helmet or the bottom of the crest. These leaves can be from any plant that you choose. For example, you could choose the leaves of an oak tree to symbolize strength and growth.XResearch source
Method 4Method 4 of 4:Putting on the Finishing Touches Download Article
- 1Choose your supporters. Supporters can be animals, birds, or persons that appear to be supporting or holding up the shield. This is an important aspect of the coat of arms, as it takes up as much space as the shield itself! Think about what symbolizes you.
- If you feel like you are a bold, strong, fiery person, you could choose dragons to support your shield.
- If you feel you are quiet and wise, you could choose sparrows or another type of bird to support the shield.
- Your supporters do not have to be two of the same kind of animal or person. For example, you could use a lion and a griffin.
- 2Decide if you would like to include a compartment under the shield. The compartment usually consists of simple leaves or branches that take up the space between the shield and the banner below. You could also try ribbons or bows.XResearch source
- 3Design your banner. The banner is a pretty simple ribbon that displays your motto. For the motto, you can use an inspirational saying, such as "Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable" or it could have your full name on it. Remember that the coat of arms represents you, so put something on the banner that is meaningful to you.
- You could also use a saying in another language or use a quote. You could consult with your family to come up with a statement or saying. If you come up with a cool phrase, but don't really want to just have it in English, you could use Google Translate to change it to Latin, which will make it sound even cooler and encourage others to ask about it.
- 4Finish the banner. Once you have added these last finishing touches, look it over to see if there is anything else you would like to add. If not, sit back and enjoy your new coat of arms!
- QuestionAre there any ways to create a coat of arms that isn't a shield?Community AnswerYes. In Europe, the most common alternative shapes for the escutcheon are the lozenge (diamond-shaped, used to display the family arms of unmarried women) and the cartouche (oval, used by clergy, as well as women).
- QuestionWhat does hearts describe?Community AnswerHearts symbolize wisdom of feelings, love, and affection. They would be best used for a person who is very kind and caring.
- QuestionWhat do stars symbolize?Community AnswerStars - also called mullets - are among the many badges, or symbols, available to be placed on a shield. At one time, as with everything else in heraldry, there was an order of seniority in choosing charges. Some were reserved for the royal family. Next came the dukes, followed by the marquis, earls, barons and viscounts. Others were used primarily by women. When a star is the main charge on an armorial, it tends to mean of divine quality bestowed by God. Also, the star can signify the third son.
- How elaborate the armorial mantles and crests often was dictated by the level of peerage of the family. Peerage is whether the family owning the armorial was a Duke or an Earl.
- Not all coats of arms contain all of the parts listed above. In fact, flags often only have the shield unless the coat of arms belongs to a king or prince.
- The Great Seal of the United States is a registered Achievement.
- Armorials have been granted since the time of William I (The Conqueror). A Coat of Arms — also called an armorial achievement, armorial bearings, or arms — was a symbol used to identify the knights in battle by family and rank, because they weren't able to see the knight's face under the suit of armor. The formal description of an armorial was known as an emblazon. A green lion standing on its hind legs on a yellow, or gold shield, or chief, is described as "Chief vert, a lion rampant or."XResearch source
About This Article
With a little understanding of the elements of a coat of arms and the symbolism behind these designs, you can create your very own coat of arms. Shields are often shaped like an upside down triangle, but you can be unique and try your own shape too. Once you have your basic shape, decide how you want to divide your shield. For example, you may want to section the shield into 3 parts that are all triangles. You can then decide on the colors and designs for your shield. While different colors have varying meanings, like red representing military strength and purple representing royalty, you can also pick colors that you simply like. The designs are typically made up of animals, flowers, stars, moons, sunbursts, or mythic creatures that feel representative of your family. To learn how to choose accessories for the outside of your shield, keep reading!