How to design your own family crest

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If you have always wanted to have your own family crest but have been unable to find one that is linked to your family historically, you can create your own. Here are some tips that may make it easier for you to do so, as well as some of the basic rules of heraldry that you would need to follow.

The shape of the crest

Usually a coat of arms or family shield follows the same basic pattern. The central shape is that of a shield with a flat top and curving sides that slope down to a point at the center. The shield itself may be one color or several and may have patterns or images on it. Although many elements of the crest or seal have meaning, the shape of the shield is not as meaningful as what is on it. Since shield shapes changed over time, it is not unusual that the shape of the shield on a family crest would do so as well.

What to consider when designing your crest

There are a few things that you should consider when designing your crest. You need to think about the qualities that you want commemorated. If your family is a very loyal or steadfast one, you may want this quality to be commemorated. Also, if members of your family tend to all belong to the same profession, it would be fitting to commemorate that as well. If you have these things in mind when you sit down to design your crest or coat of arms, the process will be much easier.

Using colors and metals properly

A shield may have tinctures (areas that are blue, red, white, black, purple or green) or metals (silver or gold). The different tinctures and metals each have different meanings. It is important for you to think of the qualities you want commemorated about your family when choosing the tinctures and metals. For example, red may mean valor and strength in battle. It is important to remember that when you are designing your coat of arms it is improper to put a color on top of or beside another color. It is also improper to place two different metals beside one another on the same shield.

A shield may also have specific patterns on them. These are often referred to as heraldic furs. Two common ones are ermine and vair. These refer to a specific pattern of black shapes that are repeated over and over again on the surface of a shield. Although they are black, which is considered a tincture, they can be applied over top of another background color.

Images on your shield

You should consider what images you want on your shield as well. There are hundreds of animals, plants and other items and each have their own meaning. Some of the more common ones that you will see if you look at historical shields include lions, harps, fish and rings. All have meaning and all can be used to tell the story of your family and its accomplishments.

While it can be fun to create your own coat of arms, it is still not official until it has been registered. There is a cost to do this and it may be harder to obtain one depending on where one lives.

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