How to create a coat of arms online

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08 April 2021
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Sign for the Stanley Arms pub, Eccleston, St Helens
Create your family coat of arms online with Mike Bedford's step-by-step guide.

Have you discovered a family coat of arms whilst carrying out your family history research?

Read on to discover how to make an online coat of arms to illustrate your family tree.

Heraldry is a long-established artistic tradition and the right to bear arms is a matter that has been taken, and continues to be taken extremely seriously. As a means to help familiarise yourself with the words and phrases used in heraldry, it is both enjoyable and useful to have a go at drawing up the description you may find in a blazon.

How to use DrawShield

To do this, my recommended software is the online utility DrawShield which offers a couple of ways of defining the coat of arms.

The first option is to select to ‘Create’ a shield by choosing from a menu on the home page. You are then asked questions in a logical sequence to build up a coat of arms.

So, for example, the first question offers a choice of either a simple shield or a complex field and, if you choose the latter, you’re prompted to select either:

  • a treatment
  • a fur
  • a division

 Picking a division offers countless options, and so the process goes on. If you know exactly how a coat of arms should look, this is an excellent way of drawing it.

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The second option, which is ideal if you know the blazon (formal textual description of the coat of arms), is to choose ‘Create and share your own shields by entering a blazon’ on the home page.

This works exactly how you might expect and, although it’s a remarkably clever bit of software, it doesn’t always get it right, but it is constantly being improved.

Whichever method you choose, though, when your shield is displayed on-screen, you can download it as either a bitmap or a vector image. It’s also interesting to see that, in its latest version, DrawShield is also able to create a complete heraldic achievement.

Article extracted from an in-depth family history and heraldry guide in the May 2021 issue of Family Tree magazine.

About the author

Coats of arms have long been a fascination to Mike Bedford, although it’s only fairly recently that he’s appreciated them as anything other than attractive images. Given that the language of blazon, which is used to formally define a coat of arms, has been likened to computer programs, of which Mike has had quite some experience, this only adds to the appeal of heraldry.