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Nordic Rowing Club of Zurich coat of arms


Michael A. Lowry
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The coat of arms of my rowing club, Nordiska Roddföreningen i Zürich was hand drawn in 1893. A simplified version was later created at some time in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

I’ve redrawn the coat of arms from scratch in Affinity Designer.

The new CoA uses modern flags and a straightened shield, but otherwise hews pretty close to the 1893 design. ( I've included both earlier versions too for comparison.)

I’d love to get feedback and suggestions. I’m particularly interested in learning more about how to convincingly simulate:

  • Draped fabric (Current approach: shading overlays: shapes filled with elliptical semi-transparent gradients)
  • Woodgrain (Current approach: brown color + 5% noise + shading overlays)
  • Paper texture (Current approach: similar to wood)

Thanks for your input!

NRF_COA_1893_2019_whitebg.png

NRF_COA_1893_2019_dkbluebg.png

NRF poster.jpg

NRF 1893 vapen.jpg

 

Edited by Michael A. Lowry
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Looks very nice :)

A few thoughts…

  1. The bevel on the shield looks smooth and perfect (computer generated) where the folds of the flags look stylized and simplified. I'd like to see the shield have the same simplified bevel.
  2. The grey outline on your flags looks a bit harsh / stark. Perhaps it isn't quite the right colour? Darker or with a bit of colour (more brown like the original)? Perhaps use pressure profile to ad a subtle variation to the stroke width?
  3. I wonder if shadows falling from the upper objects onto the lower objects would make the logo pop? Again I'd prefer the simple style rather than a perfectly rendered shadow.

All just opinions - they may all be ignored!

Impressive work :) I can see you've put a lot of time and skill into it.

Win10 Home x64   |   AMD Ryzen 7 2700X @ 3.7GHz   |   16 GB RAM   |   1TB SSD   |   nVidia GTX 1660   |   Wacom Intuos Pro

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@Aammppaa

Thanks for the compliments & feedback.

The flags don't have a bevel at all; they just have a few gradients overlaid. I'm not sure if I'll keep the shield bevel, but I will at least keep the border.

The flag border is a rope brush in yellow. It's quite narrow, so you might need to view at full magnification to see it. Perhaps it should be a bit wider.

Drop shadows can work depending on situation/medium. I’m concentrating on a simple case to begin with, and I also want to ensure that the CoA looks good even without details like this. I think shadows and other effects could add value later!

Thanks again!

Edited by Michael A. Lowry
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  • 1 year later...

I don't understand much about heraldry but is it ok to change part of it? You would think that just three crowns means something different to the original two with multiple crowns etc. But perhaps it is ok or in this instance no one really cares lol. Other than that it looks fine although I prefer the original shields. The new one looks typical vector let's put a bevel on it just because I can (however it's done). Perhaps adding the rivets would help or get rid of the bevel at the same time? I think that the scalloped edge to the flags of the original looks better than the braid which isn't obvious enough.

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@VectorVonDoom: The shield quadrants contain the national coats of arms of the four Nordic countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. For some reason, the designer of the original 1893 design opted to use the lesser coats of arms of Norway, Denmark, and Finland, but the greater coat of arms of Sweden. This always struck me as strange and inconsistent. When I redrew the design, I opted to be consistent and to use the lesser coat of arms of each nation. The other two significant changes are that I switched to modern flags, and I straightened the shield because I like the more symmetrical look.

I would like to add fringes to the flags that are more faithful to the original. I’m not sure how best to do this without a lot of work. Maybe a custom brush?

I have also considered altering the border of the shield to make it look more natural. Adding rivets is another idea I’ve played with, but I haven’t come up with a shield border that I find truly satisfying yet — at least not better than the simple bevel here.

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I also redrew the NRF monogram from the club’s 100th anniversary 1978 coat of arms.

NRF Monogram (2021)

I used the Emboss effect here to good effect, but I’m not completely satisfied with the result. In particular, I would like better control over the angles of the ridge produced by the effect at acute angels in the underlying shape. E.g., look at the lower right of the letter N. I’d like the ridge to end a bit lower, and with a sharper angle that more closely reflects the corresponding sharp acute angle of the N shape at that point. A similar problem affects the middle right of the letter — it’s too rounded, and not sharp enough.

I was also forced to artificially pinch the tops of the vertical strokes of the R and F to smooth out the embossed ridge in the top horizontal strokes. See below for what it looks like without these tweaks.

image.png.0fbf4cc388cc5df67c2da42f5af9eea4.png

Notice that in the places where the vertical and horizontal strokes of the letter meet, the embossing ridge has a little kink. I’d like to find a way to smooth out the kinks in the embossing ridge while preserving the natural shapes of the letters. Suggestions are welcome!

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Ah, OK re. the coat of arms.

I think I'd just draw the fringe freehand, the original two have a fair bit of variation anyway. Or duplicate a shape which is behind the flag? Brushes tend to distort where you don't want them to like on the corners.

The shield, it depends. You could add a gradient instead to make it look curved but then the centre section might look weird as it's flat. So perhaps just a top down gradient sort of how the bevel is then add the rivets, cut outs (like the 2nd one) and the corner bits?

The letters. What about trying the horizontals, like on the F, as separate objects and see if they blend better. But then the corners won't but that might be easier to put an object over them and blend them yourself.

 

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On 5/11/2019 at 12:05 AM, Michael A. Lowry said:

The coat of arms of my rowing club, Nordiska Roddföreningen i Zürich was hand drawn in 1893. A simplified version was later created at some time in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

I’ve redrawn the coat of arms from scratch in Affinity Designer.

The new CoA uses modern flags and a straightened shield, but otherwise hews pretty close to the 1893 design. ( I've included both earlier versions too for comparison.)

I’d love to get feedback and suggestions. I’m particularly interested in learning more about how to convincingly simulate:

  • Draped fabric (Current approach: shading overlays: shapes filled with elliptical semi-transparent gradients)
  • Woodgrain (Current approach: brown color + 5% noise + shading overlays)
  • Paper texture (Current approach: similar to wood)

Thanks for your input!

NRF_COA_1893_2019_whitebg.png

NRF_COA_1893_2019_dkbluebg.png

NRF poster.jpg

NRF 1893 vapen.jpg

 

Being Danish I love it. Great work. My input:

  • The shield doesn't for me at all - almost. 🙂 The bevel part of the shield looks like any other bevel I have seen and the style of the entire shield should be in greater harmony with rest of the content. I would make it look a lot more like the original. 2D and simple. Now it has a moderne sterile style that doesn't match the excellent flags and stuff you masterfully recreated in the background. It is also a shame the original details on the border of the shield were lost in the process. The shield is the focus point and centre after all. And the original shield is beautiful! No bevel can compete with it.
  • Experiment with more clarity on the ropes - perhaps not as much as the originals but closer to that. Unless you observe the coat of arms on a big screen / big print it will just look like think strokes. 
  • Replacing the original Swedish "mix of crowns and lions" with just Tre Kronor is fine. Easier to decode for the eyes - I guess swedes will accept it too. 

Fascinating stuff to work with, eh? 🙂

  • "The user interface is supposed to work for me - I am not supposed to work for the user interface."
  • Computer-, operating system- and software agnostic; I am a result oriented professional. Look for a fanboy somewhere else.
  • “When a wise man points at the moon the imbecile examines the finger.” ― Confucius
  • Not an Affinity user og forum user anymore. The software continued to disappoint and not deliver.
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@VectorVonDoom: Re: the letters, I don’t think separate shapes would deliver what I’m looking for. I want a continuous embossed effect.

@Jowday: Thanks for the feedback. I had been meaning to revisit the shield at some point, because I agree it’s a special part of the original.

Here’s my initial attempt at a shield that hews more closely to the original. I couldn’t resist putting a subtle embossing effect on the shield and rivets. I think it makes the shield look more real, and it helps it to stand out a bit from the flags. Now that it’s done, I really like the white border. And with the added details, I think it doesn’t look too generic or sterile.

I would really like to find a way to use symbols in compound shapes. It would greatly simplify the process of making these sorts of complex symmetrical shapes while keeping their constituent components editable.

I widened the rope stroke of the flags. I don’t have the time or patience to draw the fringes by hand, so I have to find a more efficient solution.

I’d also like to work on making the folds of the draped flags look a bit more realistic. For the drapery shadows, I’m using shapes with highly eccentric elliptical gradients. I ‘d like to find a more flexible solution that’s adapted to more irregular fold geometries.

NRF_COA_1893_2019.png

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The shield looks much better like that. Just blurring the hard edges on the flags will do it but it looks fine and the adjustment to the edging looks better, stands out more. The only thing I would adjust if it were me is the shading on the handles, a bit more shadow so they look rounded not flat.  

Screenshot 2021-02-08 at 23.37.21.png

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38 minutes ago, VectorVonDoom said:

The shield looks much better like that. Just blurring the hard edges on the flags will do it but it looks fine and the adjustment to the edging looks better, stands out more. The only thing I would adjust if it were me is the shading on the handles, a bit more shadow so they look rounded not flat.  

Screenshot 2021-02-08 at 23.37.21.png

I agree with this observation from @VectorVonDoom

NOW the shield looks great - yeah drawing the fringes by hand would require patience I rarely have - even during lock down here. Just remember that details and gradients that look great zoomed in will indeed appear grey to the eye zoomed out. In the big version they look just great. Thats why I mentioned clarity. Better micro contrast or whatever. Minor problem. Never mind. 🙂

No wait perhaps the same problem could affect the font... too light perhaps? Scaled down that could fade as well.

  • "The user interface is supposed to work for me - I am not supposed to work for the user interface."
  • Computer-, operating system- and software agnostic; I am a result oriented professional. Look for a fanboy somewhere else.
  • “When a wise man points at the moon the imbecile examines the finger.” ― Confucius
  • Not an Affinity user og forum user anymore. The software continued to disappoint and not deliver.
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44 minutes ago, Michael A. Lowry said:

Here’s the latest revision, including lots of small changes, including a few based on feedback above. Thanks for the helpful tips.

@Jowday: I hope Dannebrogen is now a bit more correct in its proportions. (It’s actually quite different from other Nordic Cross flags.)

 

NRF_COA_1893_2019.png

Looks good!

  • "The user interface is supposed to work for me - I am not supposed to work for the user interface."
  • Computer-, operating system- and software agnostic; I am a result oriented professional. Look for a fanboy somewhere else.
  • “When a wise man points at the moon the imbecile examines the finger.” ― Confucius
  • Not an Affinity user og forum user anymore. The software continued to disappoint and not deliver.
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Here’s another update. Some purists had noted that the flags looked to sterile and lifeless. So I went back and redrew the flags from scratch, based closely on the flags of the old design. I’ve moved the cantons of the flags more to the top hoist side to make the identity of each flag easier to discern. For the fringes, I used two overlaid strokes — a rope brush stroke with a subtle 3D filter atop a solid color stroke. I think the fringes look pretty good, but they’re not perfect. I like the flexibility offered by a custom brush but I haven’t found a brush that looks exactly like the fringes in the original design. I might just end up creating my own custom brush. I haven't done this before but it looks pretty straightforward. Just one question: Is it true that so-called ‘vector’ brushes are based on bitmap (PNG) graphic files?

I also tweaked the floral elements, and now use a variable stroke width (custom pressure profile) for these strokes. I think this gives them more natural & elegant look.

I’m still not satisfied with gradient shape overlays meant to simulate draping and folding of the flags. What I’d really like is to be able to define a gradient along a custom path, and not to be limited to linear, elliptical, or conical gradient shapes.

NRF_COA_2021_modern.png

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I've loved seeing the evolution of the design and been impressed with the incisive feedback you have been getting here. 

Here is my constructive criticism on the latest design.

My main issues at this point are with the banner and the typographical style in the club's name and motto. I agreed with earlier critiques that urged you away from 3D-type beveling and embossing and feel the changes you implemented improved the design. But this computer generated look has crept back in in the textual elements and the use of grads in the banner and IMO it detracts. Not sure about the font used and the characters seem crowded.

I wish the grads in the banner text were more 2-D looking (more in keeping with the flags).

The motto below also seems awkward typographically.

I also feel you have lost the sense of flags being "crosses" (especially the Danish and Finnish flags) relative to the earlier versions  (which I prefered in that regard).

Nit-pick aside, I think this is awesome work. I'd have kept my mouth shut otherwise. 

Great work!

Bill

 

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  • 1 month later...

Here’s another update. For the flags, I completely redrew the shading layers that simulate the draped folds using a new approach. Each of these shapes contains both a gradient and a gouache brush stroke. I think this adds a bit more of a sense of physical realism. I also added a sort of undulating gradient to the each flag, subtly implying gradual waves perpendicular to the more prominent folds.

NRF_COA_2021_modern@3x.png

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I recently discovered a document in the club archives that has another version of the coat of arms. I presume this version was in use before the 1893 design. The later 1978 version is clearly based on this one, but this small blue reproduction is the only copy I’ve found.

My modern version has plain rather than colored oar blades, and incorporates an NRF monogram closer in style to the 1978 version.

Stammkrug COA rev. 2@2x.png

NRFV invitation 1907 - coat of arms.jpeg

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