Arms Desgn and Balance

An area to assist, or give, design guidance to prospective armigers.
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J Duncan of Sketraw
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Arms Desgn and Balance

Post by J Duncan of Sketraw » Mon May 20, 2013 2:35 am

A few days ago I was talking with heraldic artist Ljubodrag Grujic regarding the balance of arms, that's shield, helm and crest size which for many is about 35-30-35% however there is a case for the crest being disproportionately large and to be honest I quite like that. I think it makes the arms look imposing and historically, especially in Scotland, this has been the case.

If you want your arms to make a statement , take a look at the powerful and imposing arms of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar 1375 - 1435 The Wolf of Badenoch) Elgin Cathedral, Moray. Does it not say 'dont mess with me' :)

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It was interesting that in historical Heraldry in Ljubodrags country Serbia the arms of this period are similar in design.
Slaintè
John A. Duncan of Sketraw

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Ljubodrag Grujic
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Re: Arms Desgn and Balance

Post by Ljubodrag Grujic » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:28 am

Yes, we talked about stronger crests and surprisingly small shields in comparison to the helmets. Most new armigers find this very hard to swallow.
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Kathy McClurg
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Re: Arms Desgn and Balance

Post by Kathy McClurg » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:58 am

I like strong crests as long as the charges on the shield don't get "lost" due to size.

I strongly dislike artistry where the crest is small in comparison - a number of beginning artists have this problem.
Be well,
Kathy

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Steven Harris
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Re: Arms Desgn and Balance

Post by Steven Harris » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:23 pm

While I enjoy the historical-looking emblazonment, there is something that can be said in favor of the rather minimalist versions that omit the helm and mantling altogether - leaving just the shield and the crest on its torse, usually in a near-50:50 ratio.
Steven A. Harris
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Jeremy Keith Hammond
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Re: Arms Desgn and Balance

Post by Jeremy Keith Hammond » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:04 pm

Steven Harris wrote:While I enjoy the historical-looking emblazonment, there is something that can be said in favor of the rather minimalist versions that omit the helm and mantling altogether - leaving just the shield and the crest on its torse, usually in a near-50:50 ratio.
That's my preference. I haven't paid much attention to national themes much, but lately I've started noticing this is particularly popular in the United States. But I'm also not exposed to that much yet, so my perspective could be off.

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Jeff Poole
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Re: Arms Desgn and Balance

Post by Jeff Poole » Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:27 am

IIRC the dropping of the helm was a Victorian England thing and was possibly frowned upon by the COA or purists but I could be wrong there.

The larger crests in reference to the shield could be based on a tournament/jousting shield being relatively small?
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Jeff

Joseph McMillan
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Re: Arms Desgn and Balance

Post by Joseph McMillan » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:19 pm

I know I should introduce myself to this forum before posting, but...

The prescription of any mathematical rule on the correct proportions of crest, helm, and shield is inherently fallacious. Why? Because while helmets were always sized to fit the human head, which doesn't vary all that much (e.g., the largest commercially available men's hat size is only about 17% bigger than the smallest), the size of the shield varied enormously over the four or five centuries when heraldic arms were used on real shields.

On the non-use of the helm: I've seen arms engraved on bookplates and silver with the crest on its torse directly above the shield dating back to at least the late 1600s.
Joseph McMillan

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Kathy McClurg
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Re: Arms Desgn and Balance

Post by Kathy McClurg » Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:24 pm

Joseph McMillan wrote:I know I should introduce myself to this forum before posting, but...
Why? I think anyone who doesn't know you already, Joe, will soon enough! Wall-flower that you are.... :lol:
Be well,
Kathy

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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: Arms Desgn and Balance

Post by Michael F. McCartney » Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:30 am

Emblazoning arms - like most human activity - includes some degree of balancing competing demands. Artistically, the inclusion or exclusion of a helmet, and the type of helmet, is obviously an important exercise of artistic license; & FWIW the general 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 approach IMO is a most striking and attractive balance.

However, artistic merit isn't the only consideration. Besides eye candy, the basic function of heraldry is identification; and on that score, the helmet is the least useful element. While in many traditions the helm indicates rank or social standing, it doesn't say anything about which specific family the arms pertain to.

Also, depending on the complexity of the arms (shield) less useful information can be conveyed in 1/3 of the design than 1/2 or larger . If the rendition is large and nearby, this doesn't matter so much; but in small scale or at a distance, a smaller shield to allow for an artistically pleasing larger helm tends to defeat the practical usefulness of the rendition in conveying identity. Shrinking or eliminating the helmet, however non-historic or to some unattractive, simply functions better in some contexts.
Mike~~
Fremont, California

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