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Editing Tutorial

This is the first in a series of tutorials that should help getting started with editing heraldic images in Inkscape.

We are going to demonstrate using Inkscape because it is free and available on Windows, Mac and Linux.

This tutorial will focus on the techniques needed to create heraldic variants rather than general program usage.

Partie (per pale, per fess)

Simple division is very common and easy

Open the base file and use the rectangle tool to draw a thin rectangle to use as the dividing line

The next step is to select the filed that you want to divide (the blue here) and the dividing rectangle (the red).

Often you will need to ungroup the base file so that you can select the individual parts. Select the object and click Object > Ungroup

To select both the base and the division, click one and shift+click the second.

Choose Path > Division

You can now select the dividing rectangle and delete it leaving the underlying black to show through

Now you can change the colors of the two pieces independently

More difficult but also extremely common is Semee de (powdered with) a pattern.

 The Gold collection includes the most common pattern fills in the Design folder

For this example we will use the Squirrel Rampant  and the Fleur de Lis pattern to make a Squirrel Rampant Semee de lis. Start by loading both files into a single Inkscape document.

Size the pattern large enough to cover the entire area to be powdered, remember to hold Ctrl (Windows) while sizing to scale proportionally.

Next ungroup both the pattern and the image. with Object > Ungroup. After ungrouping all the objects will be selected, click in white space to clear the selection before continuing.

In this case the pattern is made up of more than one object so we need to combine them to make the process easier. Drag a marquee box around all of the pattern objects to select them and choose Path > Combine

We also want to combine all the parts of the image that need to be powdered. Do not use a marque selection (dragging a box around the while object), select the objects individually by clicking on the first part and Shift+clicking on additional parts to add them one at a time, in this case select the body and tail and Path > Combine them.

Next scale and position the pattern over the image and align the overlap so that the pattern looks good, in this case I tried to avoid the eye. You can use Object > Raise to Top to bring the pattern to the top if needed.

The next step is to create a duplicate of the body and tail fill, select the body fill and Edit > Duplicate (Ctrl+D). Zoom in if you have trouble selecting the body fill that is under the pattern.

Nothing visible may happen, (depending on the object layering) in this example the duplicate was created above the pattern. If the duplicate is not on top you may want to bring it to the top with Object > Raise to Top.

Select the patern and the just created duplicate (with a click on one and a shift+click on the second) zoom in if you have trouble selecting the correct parts. Note that there should be a bounding box around each selected object and at the bottom of the window the status bar should show '2 objects selected of type path...'.

Next select Path > Intersection. the just created duplicate and then Path > Intersection.

If all goes well, its like magic.

If the pattern just seems to disappear, it is likely just the wrong color, with the object still selected from the last step select a contrasting color and the pattern should become visible.

In some cases you may need to change the object stacking order to get it to look right, the object stacking order options are on the Object menu Raise and Lower. If it did not work, use undo to go back to before the Path > Intersection command and check object selection and stacking and then try again.

Multi Color Patterns

Multi-color patterns (checky, vair, nebulee, fretty etc.) can be applied using the same techniques, by repeating the Duplicate Body, Select pattern part, Path > Intersection procedure for each color and for the black dividing lines.

It's worth noting that the black dividing lines in the complex pattern fills are entirely optional and can be omitted, the black outlines were not included in painted heraldic art, they are a modern addition that allows the images to be easily rendered without color.


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