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Making Your Shield

Instructions for Shields, Knights and Heraldry

Needed: Scissors, paint/colored pencils/markers/crayons, printer paper, glue and tape, a PC printer.

Helpful: Poster board or cardboard to back the shield. It is easier to have both glue and tape, but the project can be done with either one alone.

Decide which size of shield you want to make - a shield the size of a normal piece of paper, or a shield the size of four pieces of paper. Print out the shield you want. If you wish to use colored paper for the shield, use the printed shield as a pattern for the right shape.

For the large shield (4 X 4), you will have to cut off white borders. Because of the way a computer printer prints on a page, it leaves a white (unprinted) margin around each piece of paper, which is not exactly the same size on every printer. To make the large shield, you have to cut off the border (the non-printed edge) of three sheets of paper, and assemble them into a shield shape (see picture). Every place two pieces of paper meet, you have to cut an edge off one sheet and overlap it on the other sheet.

Trim the right side of the sheet of paper that has the upper left hand side of the shield so that the straight black lines meet when you overlap this piece onto the upper right piece. Cut a straight line down to the bottom of that piece of paper. There should be no white paper between the top (straight) lines of the top of the shield. On the sheets of paper for the bottom of the shield (the bottom sheets of paper have only one curved line each) trim the same amount from the inner side of the shield (the left hand lower piece) as you did for the upper left piece, so that the bottom curves come together when the left hand side sheet overlaps the right hand side. The left hand side of the shield goes on top when you glue or paste them together.

On the two bottom sheets, cut straight across the top of both sheets of paper so that the black line is at the very top of the paper. It may be easier not to cut the shield out at this point. Assemble the shield with tape, then cut it out.

Cut on the dotted lines:

Pieces of Shield, to print out and make a medieval shield

Especially with the larger shield, it is a good idea to back your shield with poster board or cardboard. To do that, paste the shield on a piece of poster board or cardboard larger than the shield, then cut out the entire shield. Of course, if the poster board is the right color for your shield, it does not have to be colored.

Field Divisions: The field divisions" of your shield, if you want them, are best done with a ruler or straight-edge. The web page on field divisions ( shows the most common of the divisions used on shields. Select the pattern you want, mark the edges on the shield, and draw your straight lines, then paint or color. Remember that the "color on metal, metal on color" rules does NOT apply here, as the parts of the shield were considered to lie next to each other, not on top of each other. The rule does apply when shapes were put on the background of a shield, as when a chevron or a stripe is put onto a shield.

Charges: It is best to color each part of the shield before cutting it out to add it to the rest of the shield. Once you have the shield shape, in the color you want, you can start to print out the charge, or design, that you want for the shield. The "Large" size patterns are suitable for the center design on a large shield. The medium size patterns are the right size for a center design on the single page shield, or for a smaller design on a large shield, where there are going to be several design elements. The small size is suitable for multiple designs on a single page shield.

Of course, you can also draw your own design, or combine your drawing with elements that are printed out. Heraldic designs frequently use multiple elements, such as "three roses or" or "keys or between three stars argent". (I realize that correct modern English says that keys are between 2 stars, or among 3, but heraldry is not modern English.)

Shields also combine elements, such as a lion wearing a crown and carrying a sword. You can print out all three elements, color, and cut the pieces to fit, or you can draw in pieces to add to charges that you print out. There was no limit on what could be a charge, as long as it was recognizable.

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