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Thread: The Medieval Heraldic Atlas Project

  1. #1
    Vladyvid's Avatar Wizard of Turmish
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    Icon1 The Medieval Heraldic Atlas Project

    Original post:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    First of all, im not sure if im posting this in the right section of the forums, so please admins revise it and put where it should be. I was struggling to decide whether this should go into the historical sections or here.

    Ok now about the idea itself.

    I have an interest in heraldry since as far back as i can remember, and over the years have gathered and also created a substantial amount of graphic assets/materials. I want to make use of that which i have already acumulated, and the idea is to create a comprehensive heraldic atlas covering all medieval Europe. This is an ambitious idea, because i want to cover not just the national emblems but go in depth into provincial heraldics (duchies, counties) and to some extend also cover the heraldry used by the nobility, church and chivalric orders. The period im hoping to cover would be generally XII-XV century, as prior to that heraldry did not exist in its modern understanding. Im not sure 100% but i havent come across a similar atlas that would cover all Europe, so im thinking this is an original innitiative at least in that regard.

    That is the idea of what will be covered, and now a few words about the format.

    The end goal i have is to have all of the heraldic designs recreated as vectors, high quality images that can be scaled and used as a resource. I want to make it a pdf book format, and it would NOT be for free (cause that will be a ton of work, hundreds of vector images). Im not planning to make a fortune off of it, but not everything can be free. This could be a useful resource for modders of all medieval themed games for the years to come, and for any fans of heraldry ofc. The commercial version would also include large full page illustrations and some other bonus artworks.

    There would be a free version for TWC that would consist of rasters - that any modder can turn into vectors if they like, so that would be free for this community.

    I will primarily focus on the artworks, and im looking for anyone who would like to help with research or historical background - i want to include descriptions of different heraldic traditions, basic explanation of heraldry etc. I want to stress here that all and any text work input will be available for the free TWC version.

    I also have to add that im generally a busy person, so this will not be my number 1 focus anytime soon, but its most likely a project to be developed across the span of many months or even years. The task ahead is quite monumental, especially as i only want to use my own assets. There would also be illustrations of historical sources but only as comparison, and if can be legally used.

    First i will be planning the general layout, cause im not yet sure if to go with alphabetical order or just go region by region geographicly, then i start with the national/royal heraldics designs.


    If anybody is interested to assist with this project, let me know.


    Entry 1: Tinctures, Pigments and Materials

    1.1 Tinctures

    Heraldic rules for colours and patterns determine the use of specific colours and their combinations, which are called tinctures.

    1.1.1 Metals

    Or - placeholder
    Argent - placeholder

    1.1.2 Colours

    Gules - placeholder
    Sable - placeholder
    Azure - placeholder
    Vert - placeholder
    Purpure - placeholder

    1.1.3 Stains

    Sanguine - placeholder
    Murrey - placeholder
    Tenne - placeholder

    1.1.4 Furs

    Ermine - placeholder
    Vair - placeholder

    1.1.5 Other tinctures

    placeholder

    1.2 Pigments

    placeholder

    1.3 Materials

    placeholder
    Last edited by Vladyvid; April 16, 2021 at 03:14 AM.

  2. #2
    Warcrafthero's Avatar Centenarius
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    Default Re: The Medieval Heraldic Atlas Project

    Intersting idea Vladyvid, heraldry is an intersting subject. I have to say that several years ago, thanks to a user who mentioned it in a thread, i discovered a website that collects heraldry images. The site is called WappenWiki, maybe you know it?.

  3. #3
    Vladyvid's Avatar Wizard of Turmish
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    Default Re: The Medieval Heraldic Atlas Project

    Yes i know it, and its definately a good website. These websites are good but mostly for reference. Also they are missing a number of (in my opinion) important heraldic designs, so even that particular website is not fully comprehensive, and i mean that its missing some kingdoms heraldics even, or lacks the designs from the period i want to depict. There is always something lacking there on such websites.

    Also the thing is, you always have to work with a heraldic design from there if you want to apply it in a mod for exmple. Maybe that sounds pretty obvious, but i mean work more than you would if they were more adapted.

    Some images are easier to work with, and some are not - if the shield is divided into 4 parts for example and you need to put that design on something of a different shape.

    For example lets look here:

    The bottom two quarters are not full rectangles, so if you want this image to be on a round shield, or a pavise shield, or just a different shape shield from the one in here, you have a problem. Then ofc you can look for a stag and for a lion and put them together and create that, but then you have to do it yourself. Also if you are using a specific design in a mod, there are good chances its gonna be on different things - shields, flags, horse barding, etc, so they will all be different shapes.

    Another example, pattern:

    If you want this pattern on a horse barding or again a differently shaped shield, you have to either find a different graphic that will fit your shape or create a large field with this pattern yourself. My work would cut those corners.

    So yeah i probably wasnt very precise about that, but i would include not just the traditional shield heraldics but also devices put on a larger square background, or a larger square pattern, so that would be easy to fit to other shapes.

  4. #4
    Lifthrasir's Avatar "Capre" Dunkerquois
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    Default Re: The Medieval Heraldic Atlas Project

    Quote Originally Posted by Vladyvid View Post
    First of all, im not sure if im posting this in the right section of the forums, so please admins revise it and put where it should be. I was struggling to decide whether this should go into the historical sections or here.
    For now, I'm fine to leave it here. I might move it somewhere else in the future, depending how this evolves
    Under the patronage of Flinn, proud patron of Jadli, of the Imperial House of Hader


  5. #5
    Vladyvid's Avatar Wizard of Turmish
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    Default Re: The Medieval Heraldic Atlas Project

    Thanks Lifthrasir for checking.

    I updated the first post with the list of items i will be first working on. So ofc first i need to establish the basics: tinctures, pigments and materials. The tinctures refer to the heraldic rules of colours and patterns.

    The pigments will be my analysys of the possible pigments used for each tincture. There will definately be some variety there because there are several pigments that were used to present metals for example. I will try to focus on 2-3 examples of pigments for each tincture.

    The materials section will establish the "canvas" for each of the pigments that will be used. I will try to represent the materials which were historicly used to present heraldry. The idea is to keep a fairy "authentic" look on the materials and pigments before moving on to specific heraldic designs. Im at work now so im posting this mostly as placeholders for now. I will be completing the entry at a later date.

  6. #6
    Cookiegod's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: The Medieval Heraldic Atlas Project

    Vlady, a few things I don't understand:
    You want to make a not free book with vector based images. But you do know that the moment you print it, it's no longer going to be that, right? And even when you turn it into a PDF, it'll stop being an svg for all purposes.

    The second question relates to the fact that most of these coats of arms can be found in books that are freely available online. These books are also for the most part the only original sources of the old coat of arms at least. The very old ones from the medieval ages are somewhat primitive, but the 19th century ones have a lot of effort put into them. You will have to have a selling proposition that these books don't offer. This shouldn't be too hard, just be aware that if you do e.g. "coats of arms of Russia", it has been done several times.

    The third question isn't so much a question but more of an advice: I'd get into python programming if I were you, and try to automate this process as much as possible.

    As stated correctly by you, most coats of arms follow specific rules. They even have to, because, as we all know, they are not only shown pictured, but always also feature a set description that follows a very standardised format: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms

    It should be somewhat straightforward to put this depiction format into code. Many coat of arms feature the same stuff, so you can simply use one fleur de lis, a few lions, etc, and wouldn't need to feature too many of them. The input you'd need for those would be placement (e.g. top left, bottom right - but done in a way that allows for a variety of splits), item id (e.g. lion_standing.svg), (item) colour 1, and (background) colour 2, colour 3 in case one family decided to be funky.

    However, especially the smaller houses do often feature weird stuff, so for those it'd be easier to simply have the symbol as a png or svg and simply call that one into the image.

    Nevertheless depending on your knowledge of coding you could scale up your ambitions a lot. Another possibility would be to simply take the coats of arms books, go through them page by page, trace them, create your svg's from them, and go from there. But if you were to use several different books, the format would no longer be identical, plus the selling proposition, so I assume you want to make your own standardised version of the shields, etc., and integrate the various coats of arms into there.

    The final question is how you'll deal with colour gradients, which vector based images aren't as good at.



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  7. #7
    Vladyvid's Avatar Wizard of Turmish
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    Default Re: The Medieval Heraldic Atlas Project

    Thats a lot of questions, but i will try to answer.

    You want to make a not free book with vector based images. But you do know that the moment you print it, it's no longer going to be that, right? And even when you turn it into a PDF, it'll stop being an svg for all purposes.
    I havent really given it much thought. At this point its hard to say if i will even want to make it a commercial thing, probably all depends if this project develops or not. I would imagine a paper book version can also include a link to a digital copy, and so could a pdf format book.

    The second question relates to the fact that most of these coats of arms can be found in books that are freely available online. These books are also for the most part the only original sources of the old coat of arms at least. The very old ones from the medieval ages are somewhat primitive, but the 19th century ones have a lot of effort put into them. You will have to have a selling proposition that these books don't offer. This shouldn't be too hard, just be aware that if you do e.g. "coats of arms of Russia", it has been done several times.
    Not sure what is the question exactly here. If you mean that i will have to decide which version of the coats of arms i will be presenting, im not sure exactly but i will try to focus on designs from XIV-XV centuries because they are already quite developed and still within the medieval timeframe.

    The third question isn't so much a question but more of an advice: I'd get into python programming if I were you, and try to automate this process as much as possible.
    Im not sure that i want to learn python.

    It should be somewhat straightforward to put this depiction format into code. Many coat of arms feature the same stuff, so you can simply use one fleur de lis, a few lions, etc, and wouldn't need to feature too many of them. The input you'd need for those would be placement (e.g. top left, bottom right - but done in a way that allows for a variety of splits), item id (e.g. lion_standing.svg), (item) colour 1, and (background) colour 2, colour 3 in case one family decided to be funky.

    However, especially the smaller houses do often feature weird stuff, so for those it'd be easier to simply have the symbol as a png or svg and simply call that one into the image.
    Well yeah thats more or less what the method of work will be for many coas, the same devices used in different arrangements. The coding part of it tho, im not really to fond of that i guess. I dont know if i will want to do that.

    Another possibility would be to simply take the coats of arms books, go through them page by page, trace them, create your svg's from them, and go from there. But if you were to use several different books, the format would no longer be identical, plus the selling proposition, so I assume you want to make your own standardised version of the shields, etc., and integrate the various coats of arms into there.
    Yes i will establish my own standardised versions for different designs, based on those various sources im gonna work with. For most coats of arms i will use just one version but i think its possible that i will try to include a broader view on some more designs like kingdom heraldry changes or evolution.

    Also, what i havent mentioned here earlier, but had this idea along the way and i think im gonna go for it - im now working on a style of illustrations that will acompany the heraldic material. I want to go for something stylized on medieval illumination art, with those characteristic floral ornaments and such. So that would be one style of illustrations i want to include, they will depict mostly knights and other stuff with heraldry in them. Im working on one such image right now. The other style of illustrations would be the full page heraldic designs with all the bells and whistles (coa, mantling, crest, crown etc.) but that would probably be only for like the kingdoms or something really important.

    I think it would be really cool to make the end result be in that quasi medieval art style.

    The final question is how you'll deal with colour gradients, which vector based images aren't as good at.
    Depends what images and what gradients were talking about. I want for each coa to be probably in at least 2 or 3 versions and one of them would be all solid colours and no gradients, the textured ones would not be vectors i think.

    Anyways, this is all subject to evolution and change. What i said in the first post, its not like its all set in stone.

  8. #8
    Vladyvid's Avatar Wizard of Turmish
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    Default Re: The Medieval Heraldic Atlas Project

    Its better to show than explain, so im working on something like this:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    and here is some of the inspiration:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Its gonna be my heraldic knight, maybe for something like the first page. Im still working on the lines and everything, but you can get the idea. Its gonna be surrounded with other stuff too, but one step at a time.

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