I have designed a new Banner Inlay. This time it is a banner for Lord of the Rings Online, based on their logo. The ring count would be somewhere between 130 – 140k. It would be an enormous 7 feet wide. Don’t know if I’ll ever be constructing it, but it was really fun to design. Probably would be equally so to build.
The unveiling of my next project! Again, it is an inlay…
This is the logo of Turbine, Inc. The developers of my favorite game, Lord of the Rings Online (Lotro), which is a Free to Play MMORPG, as well as Asheron’s Call and Dungeons and Dragons Online. Check out Lotro here: http://www.lotro.com and Turbine’s main site here: http://www.turbine.com/
I will be starting this project soon and I am hoping to be able to present the finished banner to Turbine as my thanks for their fantastic games.
There were some questions about my design process for the Heraldry Banner, so I am going to walk through it as best I can. I’m sad to say I did not keep all the elements that went in to the design, but I did keep the interesting ones, lets start by taking a look at the finished design scaled down a bit (although I did make minor changes to the Runes in the pattern):
To get to this final design I had to start somewhere. The first thing I did was looked at my family crest and heraldic elements that I knew I would have to include:
From the family crest:
The Disembodies Hand – Family Symbol
The Green and Gold Coloring – Family Colors
Color Patterning – Solid Green Backdrop
From Basic Heraldry:
The Crescent Moon – Second Born Son
In and of themselves this could have been designed to fit a small banner, not more then maybe 5 or 6 thousand rings. But I wanted something overly large. It would have also not been nearly as visually complex as to make the project interesting. So I started looking at other design elements, and the Crescent moon acted as my starting point for this. Long before this project I have made note of “The Accolade” by Edmund Blair Leighton and the Crescent moon in that painting:
The Eagle in the painting is of a Germanic design, but unlike most Germanic Eagles it is not two-headed, also called “The Double Eagle”:
Because of my love of this painting I decided to include the eagle design from it to represent my Italian/Roman heritage. It was now time to try to start putting it all together. The first thing I needed to do was to get the Eagle into a very flat straight on view. In “The Accolade”, the Eagle is at an angle on the surcoat, but in the background a man is holding a shield with the same crest. Using this as my guide I sketched out the eagle, freehand on a sheet of normal rule paper:
It was not necessary for me to sketch the entire eagle I only needed to do half, as I could then mirror it in software to make it perfectly symmetrical. It was also no necessary to make it perfect, as I could again make changes in software. After sketching it out, I scanned it in to my computer and opened up Adobe Photoshop. It was a simple matter of tracing the edges, extending the tail feathers as I wanted them, flipping the image for symmetry, and coloring everything to get the base eagle and crescent moon for use in my design:
I eventually replaced the white outline with gold because I thought it looked better. At this point, I was still not sure what I would to with the Disembodied Hand, but I had decided to go ahead and use the Golden Ratio 1:1.62 for the banner. This created a lot of additional space. Blank green space. Some heraldry has patterns included, whether it is diamonds, chevrons or shield shapes, but the Riley crest did not allow for that, because it is explicitly a green field.
So I started playing around with ideas; Using a Laurel Wreaths, banners with various texts. The first thing I considered is the Latin motto “Dum Spiro Spero, Dum Spiro Scio” which translates to “While I breathe, I hope. While I breathe, I know
For the sake of symmetry and space I also removed the “and” from the phrase and I decided to go with the Anglo-Saxon runes over plain English or Roman text, because I felt that it would hold the eye longer and is not as easily read on a letter-by-letter basis. I also used the English in Runes versions because the length of each word was similar and could fill up the same amount of space on the top and the bottom. Runes also has the added benefit of not having to have a font type so that removed the frustrating step of determining what the letters should look like. Also, runes are awesome.
Even though I knew what text I would have on my banner, I still did not know how exactly I would place it. So I moved on to the important step of taking the design from a picture to a chainmail pattern. I would fill in the details that I had yet to figure out later.
The initial step of turning the picture into an inlay is a bit of a manual process. There is a program called Irregular Grid Painter (IGP) from zlosk.com: http://www.zlosk.com/pgmg/igp/ This Program is very simplistic, but is an amazing resource. However I find the program itself to be a little too buggy and it does not scale to large sizes very well. So I tend to us it to export the pattern I am going to use.
For this who don’t know about chainmail, and inlays there is the important concept of the “right way” and “wrong way” for chainmail to hang. The “right way” causes the chainmail mesh to hand like cloth, if wrinkles up expands and contracts and is great for clothing, but for a banner it will distort and image and not necessarily hold the shape you’d want. The “wrong way” turns the chainmail 90 degrees and the weight of the maille keeps the entire piece in a square shape, which is critial for having an undistorted image. There are also different patterns that can be used when making maille. The most common is European 4 in 1. Basically that means that every ring will loop through 4 other rings in the pattern. These were the parameters I planned on using, and (IGP) supplies such a pattern:
The above image is .jpg that is compressed. The original is an uncompressed .bmp which is an important distinction for digital artists and also for the process that folllows.
Opening up photoshop I set a background layer with the image I am going to use (the eagle with the crescent moon on a green field) and I add the pattern image as a new slightly transparent layer on top. This allows me to essentially trace the designed image on to the pattern using the “fill tool” (paint bucket):
Once I had completely traced and filed in all the rings correctly. I can view just the plain ring pattern and make adjustments for visual appeal:
Repeating this process for the entire design will result in a complete pattern. However I am still missing some key elements. The next thing I did is add the hand to the image. I found the pattern for that hand in this version of the heraldry:
I liked this one because of the position of the thumb in the hand because it would look like it was holding the crescent. I simply cut out the hand from the above image and scaled it up to the size I felt was reasonable and traced it in to the pattern, I added the blood drops manually to position them and scale them how I wanted:
I then went through and manually painted in the Runes for the text at the top and the bottom, which took a bit of time. I basically had a completed banner design at this point, but something seemed to still be missing. The border of the banner was still just a plain green color, so I decided to try something I had wanted to do for a long time. Make celtic knot work in chainmail. I found a basic weave pattern to follow:
I started painting the weave into the chainmail. The hardest part here was the corners:
That completed the banner design, which I then went through and placed some slightly different colored rings as markers. every 10 chainmail units, by every 9 units. This would be used in the construction process, allowing me to divide the work into manageable chunks:
Now the biggest step of all. Ordering the supplies! Since its costs a great deal of $$$ to buy the rings I need to order only what I need (plus a bit extra, but not much). To get an exact ring count is actually really easy. Photoshop has a Histogram tool, that tells you precisely how many pixels of a color are in the image. I can also select a subset of the rings and get number of pixels there, divide total for entire image by subset (representing a single ring) and I get an exact ring count for the color. Here is some example math:
pixels per ring 165 avg
rings per bag: approx 300
green pixels: 11389825 px == 69030 rings == 234 bags + 20bags extra = 254 bags
gold pixels: 3335167px == 20214 rings == 70 bags + 20 extra = 90 bags
champagne pixels: 146146 == 886 rings == 3 bags
etc… etc… etc…
I can then use this information to order the supplies from TheRingLord.com
Once I received the supplies, I was able to dive right in to building the banner, one section at a time.
I wanted to do something that really stretched my skills as a chainmailler and be a real center piece for my house, both as a nice artistic piece and as a personal accomplishment. It took a while to decide what I wanted to do, but after a lot of messing around with different designs and concepts, I finally landed on making a a large banner of my own personal heraldry. The details of the design will be covered in this article. I have to admit, I am really very proud of this piece.
I want to speak to the design of the banner. Every aspect of any personal heraldry should include things that speak to the the family history and personally identify the person for whom the heraldry stands. My name is Thomas Jackson Riley, and I am the second born son of my father. I am of the mixed heritage of Ireland and Scotland, but most of my bloodline is Italian and comes through my mother’s side. With all that being said, lets go over the details.
Starting with the most important part of the the heraldry will be the things directly related to my name. My family crest looks like this:
The aspects of the crest that I used are the colors; green and gold as the general color pallete, as well the disembodied hand, more on the story of that to come. The next thing to have in the design is the symbol designating my place as the second born son. In medieval heraldry that symbol is a crescent moon. I decided for the sake of visual appeal and good usage of space to have the hand holding the crescent moon.
One of my favorite pieces of art has the crescent moon as part of a heraldry of the knight in the piece. “The Accolade” by Edmund Blair Leighton is a beautiful piece showing a very classical romanticized knighting ceremony:
As a side note, one thing I find very interesting about this painting is the attention to detail. In the middle ages it was very common for the first born son to follow into military service, which could lead to knighthood. The second born, were very often placed into service with the church. So the knight in this painting must have done something truly amazing, and outside the expected role of the second born to gain knighthood.
I decided to use the eagle design from this painting to represent my Italian heritage, although the design is more Germanic in origin. As you can see I layered the hand holding the crescent on the eagle just as it appears in the painting above.
I only had 3 droplets of blood coming out of the hand to make the overall look a little more simple and less cluttered.
The Motto “Strength and Honour” is written in Anglo-Saxon runes. The motto is one I use, and overuse, taken shamelessly from the movie “Gladiator”, again referencing my Italian (Roman) heritage, and the runes being a reference of my Celtic roots.
The Celtic knot along the edges is another nod to my Celtic Roots.
The banner also includes the Golden Ratio ~1.62 height to width. The scale of banner and the number of rings is very hard to really see without having something (or someone) to help show the size. I am a little over 6 feet tall
Another picture of my mostly emotionless face. Probably because I spent the past 5 months working on this thing, and I’m too tired to smile.
Here are some the 16G 1/4″ ID Anodized Aluminum in my hand. to give an idea of the size of the individual rings.
Finally, I want to talk a little about the disembodied hand and the story behind it, although I embellish a little. There was a race to win the hand of the princess and the right to rule over the kingdom. In order to win the race, the contestants had to place their hand on the castle wall. A great many princes entered the race, and the last part was to swim across the moat. One of the princes, who greatly loved the princess, was not a strong swimmer and stood at the edge of the moat. Unwilling to lose the princess he loved and the rule of the kingdom, he drew his sword cut off his hand and threw it across the water hitting the castle wall and winning the race… EPIC!
Thanks for taking a look at my banner!
I needed a break from my large inlay project. I decided to make a chainmail bracer and inlay it with the Templar Cross.
Ring Types Used:
My first inlay project, using what has become my default standard size of 16G 1/4ID rings, anodized. This banner now hangs on the wall at Google offices and was even featured on the Google Blog: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/google-chainmail-version.html
Here is the Pattern I designed as the template: