A common theme in June is for people to show their support for Pride month through adapting their own heraldry or using adaptations of heraldry for the a group to which they belong. The same principles can also be applied to supporting any cause of your choice.

So how do I go about designing these adaptations?

To demonstrate this I will focus on Pride and the arms and badges of the Kingdom of Drachenwald and the Principality of Insulae Draconis.

The first question is what about the original arms or badges is most associated with the group or person they represent. To me, for Drachenwald that would be Albion, the black dragon. For Insulae Draconis it would be the sun in splendour and the crescent moon. These need to remain clear in the final design, as there’s no point in showing support if no one knows who you are.

The second question is what identifies the cause you wish to support? For Pride, the obvious answer is the Rainbow Flag.

A fusion of period heraldry and modern causes can require compromise on the rules of heraldry. There is, for example, no way to easily blazon the Pride flag. As a result, in the Drachenwald College, we’ve come to use the shortcut of Pride barry. When the stripes are made vertical, we use Pride paly and you could similarly use Pride bendy. All of these describe the Pride flag and varinats as fields, which seems an obvious way to use this symbol, swapping out the original field for the Pride field.

One of the core tenets of heraldry are the rules around tincture. Taken as a whole the Pride rainbow is colour rather than metal. This is fine for Insulae Draconis where the charges are metal, specifically gold, but for Drachenwald the charges are colours, with the most important, Albion, being black. Again we have to compromise to fuse the past with the present.

So how do we compromise in this case? Colours in heraldry aren’t fixed, so we can make them as metallic, ie. as bright as possible, to distinguish them from the black of Albion.

Now, I said above, that the Pride rainbow as a colour is fine for use with the gold of the sun and moon of Insulae Draconis. There is however one wrinkle. Gold is represented as yellow in heraldry, and the Pride rainbow has a yellow stripe, into which a charge, and its identity, could disappear. However, in heraldry, yellow is yellow, is yellow, which is one way of saying that any shade of yellow can be used for yellow, and which is an artistic detail. Nor is there any requirement that the same shade be used throughout the design. So we can help the design by using different shades of yellow for the charges and the rainbow.

So combining all these elements we can come up with designs such as those below:

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These are all badge adaptations, rather than the arms themselves. If you look closely you’ll see that the stripes for the fields behind Albion are of a brighter colour than those on the Insulae Draconis badge, to try and account for the differences between colour and metal charges. Note the difference in shades of yellow on the Insulae Draconis version.

Two of the badges are square, which is the standard shape for SCA badges on the form. Of course, in the real world badges can be displayed on any number of things of various shapes. A common modern use is within Facebook, which whilst it does use square portraits in some places, more commonly uses a round portrait, and so a round version is quite popular.

The versions are all ‘Pride paly’, ie. with vertical stripes. There’s no intrinsic reason why this should be so: it’s just my own aesthetic preference, I think because the original designs are vertically symmetrical, so I just prefer the vertical lines. It would be equally valid to go for ‘Pride barry’ with horizontal stripes:

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You can, of course, change other aspects of your heraldry apart from the field. I generally try and keep the changes to what I would consider the non-critical parts of a design in terms of maintaining the identity of the supporter. I personally haven’t changed Albion’s colour because to me Albion is black, and it could be any dragon otherwise. BUt that’s simply my own aesthetic.

I have played with other aspects. Albion can be surrounded by a laurel wreath and we can play with both that and with changing the surrounding charge. The laurel wreath can become the reflection of the Pride colours, or we can take the Pride rainbow more literally. I’ve also played around with Insulae Draconis’s sun, but I’m less convinced that makes for a successful result.

Have fun adapting your arms and badges.

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