Lord Alden Drake
1.1. The Shield
Your shield is likely to be your first piece of heraldic garb, and it is the first place where you can
begin hiding mundanity. Since most shields are made of either plywood or metal, painting your
device on its service can help to hide the obviously modern material.
Additionally, it is the primary means by which you are identified on the field. Since armor and helms
obscure the features and shape of the person underneath, it helps to be able to easily identify a
person by the shield they carry.
Wait until you have your shield properly hung and balanced for fighting before you go through all the
work of decorating it. You don’t want to spend hours decorating your shield only to then have to
drill all new holes and move bolts, etc., that could mar your decoration.
Before you paint on your surface, cover it with a layer of primer. This will help to seal the material
(especially wood), and will keep the colors bright.
If you aren’t a terrific artist, don’t despair. An easy way to transfer your design onto your shield (or
anything else for that matter), is to use an overhead projector and project the design onto the
surface of the shield. Trace it on, and you’re good to go.
1.2. Surcoats and Tabards
1.2.1. Heraldic Surcoat
In addition to wearing your device on your shield, you can wear it directly on your person in the
form of a heraldic surcoat. There are some pros and cons with regard to wearing a surcoat
(especially during Ansteorran summers). The pros for wearing heraldic surcoats are that it can be
used to hide non-period armor, identifies you when you don’t have a shield, and adds greatly to
style and appearance. The main con for wearing a heraldic surcoat is that it is another layer of
fabric draped over you that adds weight and usually heat. If a surcoat is made to fit correctly
however, it should not restrict any movement.
1.2.2. Heraldic Tabard
A personal herald will be the person who will wear your heraldic tabard. Having a herald, dressed in
your arms, is a great persona element, and greatly lends to the atmosphere of events (not
necessarily restricted to tournaments). In your service, the herald speaks on your behalf (and with
your authority), so it is important to attire your herald in your arms, so everyone knows who the
herald is working for.
1.2.3. Garb Patterns
There are several patterns to use when designing heraldic garb. One of the most popular pattern
sets is Period Patterns #101 – Medieval Military Garments, and Period Patterns #102 – More
Medieval Military Garments. These patterns are readily available on the web and through some
merchants at events.
These garments can be made as elaborate as you desire, but keep in mind how they will be used
when you make them. For surcoats and field tabards, use natural fiber fabrics that will breathe.
Lining these garments is optional; if you do line them, consider the added weight of the fabric. You
might also want a fine dress surcoat and a court tabard, which are made out of richer material and
more elaborate decoration, since they aren’t as likely to get beat on or sweat-stained.
Included in this class is a reprint of the Tournaments Illuminated article on Banners.
The true gallant fights not for himself, but for the honor of another (yes, the Crown too, and the
kingdom, and ok – maybe a little bit for himself). Quite often the person you are willing to take the
field, and get battered and bruised, for will present you with a favor. While not necessarily a
“heraldic” element, it is a visual decoration that shows the fighter to be gallant and chivalrous.
The most common favor is worn on the belt, but they are not limited to that location. The favor is
usually made by the person bestowing it to the fighter, and has been decorated in some fashion,
that it might identify the giver. Initials, badges, devices, or other identifying symbols, are either
sewn, embroidered, painted, or somehow applied to the favor. Generally, it is left up to the skills
and talents of the giver to present a favor that is symbolic of their person.
Favors can also be worn to represent groups, such as households, branches, fighting companies,
etc., who support and encourage the fighter. Some branch champions may wear a favor of the
branch, while a tournament company may wear a favor bearing the company’s badge.
3.2. Honor Shields
In some tournaments, combatants are requested to bring an honor shield. These miniature shields
are displayed on a “tree” as indication of the combatant’s entry in the tournament, and sometimes
to show pairings of the fights to take place.
The construction of an honor shield is very simple:
• A standard honor shield is a heater shape, cut out of ¼-inch plywood to size of 8-inches x 10-
• At the midpoint, roughly ¾ to 1 inch down from the top edge, drill a hole that is 3/16 to 1/4 inch
in diameter. Most honor shields get hung on a nail by this hole.
• After cutting out the shape, sand the surfaces and edges to a smooth finish and wipe clean.
• Apply a base coat of white primer to the shield face and edges (it is not necessary to prime the
back, but you can if you prefer).
• Once the primer has dried, you will transfer the image of your device onto the surface. This can
be done by freehand drawing, using carbon paper and tracing over your design, or by using an
overhead projector and tracing the image (whatever way works best for your design).
• Paint the design, using acrylic paint. Use only proper heraldic colors (red, blue, black, green,
purple, white, yellow). Silver and Gold paint may be substituted.
3.3. Heraldry for the Helm
Some tournaments are accompanied by a crest gallery. Here, fighters place their decorated helms
on tables to be viewed by the public. Quite often a prize will be given for the best-decorated crest.
In Ansteorra, a crest is added to a person’s heraldic achievement when they have received a Grant
Level award, however, there is seldom a remark made to someone not of Grant Level, who displays
a crest in a gallery.