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:. How to make a good flag, The basics of vexillology
Cirrus
Posted: May 7 2007, 12:33 PM


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QUOTE (National Flag Committee of the Confederate States of America @ 1861)
A flag should be simple, readily made, and capable of being made up in bunting; it should be different from the flag of any other country, place or people; it should be significant; it should be readily distinguishable at a distance; the colors should be well contrasted and durable; and lastly, and not the least important point, it should be effective and handsome.


The Five Rules of Good Design:

1. Keep It Simple

The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory…
Flags flap. Flags drape. Flags must be seen from a distance. Under these circumstances, only simple designs make effective flags. Furthermore, complicated flags cost more to make, which often can limit how widely they are used. Most poor designs have the elements of a great flag in them—simplify them by focusing on a single symbol, a few colors, large shapes, and no lettering. Avoid the temptation to include a symbol for everybody. Ideally the design will be reversible or at least recognizable from either side. Don’t put a different design on the back.
Good:
(Posted Image)
With bold, contrasting colors, large shapes, and parallel lines, this flag is also easily recognized when reversed. (Congo)

Bad:
(Posted Image)
Replete with stars, crescents, and the Sword of Ali, this 19th-century design’s overwhelming complexity defeats its purpose. (Bey of Tunisia)


2. Use Meaningful Symbolism
The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes…
Symbolism can be in the form of the "charge" or main graphic element, in the colors used, or sometimes even in the shapes or layout of the parts of the flag.
Usually a single primary symbol is best—avoid those that are less likely to be representative or unique. Colors often carry meanings: Red for blood or sacrifice, White for purity, Blue for water or sky. Diagonal stripes are often used by former colonies as an alternative to the generally horizontal and vertical stripes of European countries.

Good:
(Posted Image)
"Hiawatha's Belt", a symbol for five tribes since before 1600, appears on the traditional blue of wampum shell beads. (Iroquois Confederacy)

Bad:
(Posted Image)
Believe it or not, this flag depicts the flags of all the member countries, and must be changed each time one joins, drops out, or changes its flag! (Organization of American States)


3. Use 2–3 Basic Colors
Limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set…
The basic flag colors are Red, Blue, Green, Black, Yellow, and White. They can range from dark to light. Occasionally other colors are also used, such as Purple, Gray, and Orange, but they are seldom needed in a good design. Separate dark colors with a light color, and light colors with a dark color, to help them create effective contrast. A good flag should also reproduce well in "gray-scale", that is, in black & white shades. More than four colors are hard to distinguish and make the flag unnecessarily complicated and expensive. Flag fabric comes in a relatively limited number of colors—another reason to stick to the basics.

Good:
(Posted Image)
These colors contrast well, even though the red and black are not separated by a light color. (Amsterdam)

Bad:
(Posted Image)
Too many colors! At the least, the yellow and white should be separating the dark colors. While the dragon is the in the position of honor, it is very hard to distinguish. (Chinese Admiral)


4. No Lettering or Seals
Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal (they are not discernable from a distance)…
Words defeat the purpose: why not just write "U.S.A." on a flag? A flag is a graphic symbol. Lettering is nearly impossible to read from a distance, hard to sew, and difficult to reduce to lapel-pin size. Words are not reversible—this forces double- or triple-thickness fabric. Don’t confuse a flag with a banner, such as what is carried in front of a marching band in a parade, or draped behind a speaker’s platform—such banners don’t flap, they are seen from only one side, and they’re usually seen closer-up. Seals were designed for placement on paper to be read at close range. Very few are effective on flags—too detailed. Better to use some element from the seal as a symbol. Some logos work; most don’t.

Good:
(Posted Image)
The palmetto tree represents "Palmetto State" far better than the state’s seal could. The crescent moon is in the position of honor. (South Carolina)

Bad:
(Posted Image)
This flag uses a seal AND lettering! The name of the state actually appears twice. (South Dakota)


5. Be Distinctive or Be Related
Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections…
This is perhaps the most difficult principle, but it is very important. Sometimes the good designs are already "taken". However, a flag’s symbols, colors, and shapes can recall other flags—a powerful way to show heritage, solidarity, or connectedness. This requires knowledge of other flags. Often the best way to start the design process can be looking to one’s "roots" in flags—by country, tribe, or religion.

Good:
(Posted Image)
Using the same colors used by many countries in Africa, this flag shows a strong connection to its neighbors’ flags. (Ghana)

Bad:
(Posted Image)
Except for its proportions, this flag is exactly the same as Monaco’s (which had it first), but there is no connection between the two countries. Upside-down it is the same as Poland or as Cantabria, Spain! (Indonesia)


Other Considerations
A rectangle is the standard flag shape. Keep the width/length proportions between 1:1.5 and 1:2. Canadian flags are usually 1:2; U.S. flags are usually 1:1.5 or 1:1.67. Square flags are unusual in North America. Abandon such rectangles only when meaningful.

Flags wear. By retaining a rectangular shape and avoiding symbols at the fly end, a flag can be hemmed repeatedly and given a longer life.

The point of honor is the "canton" area—the upper left corner. This corresponds to the part of the flag that is seen when it hangs limp from a flagpole. The center or left-of-center position is the most visible spot for a symbol when the flag is flying.

Consider the fabrication methods. Curved lines add to the cost of sewn flags. Holes or "negative space" hurt a flag’s fly-ability and wear-ability. "Swallow-tail" shapes fray more easily.

All rules have exceptions. Colorado’s "C" is a stunning graphic element. Maryland’s complicated heraldic quarters produce a memorable and distinctive flag. But depart from these five principles only with caution and purpose.

(Posted Image)
Colorado

(Posted Image)
Maryland


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user posted image
Designing a flag? Make sure it follows the rules!
Join Mutually Assured Defense. We're Blue, neutral, and worship mad cows. Hail Spongiformia!
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Margrave
Posted: May 7 2007, 12:38 PM


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This is an excellent topic, which belongs in the Academic Sub-Forum.


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In Nomine Patre, et Fili, et Spitirus Sancti. Rest In Peace S1phrx.


Frisch Weht der Wind

Der Heimat zu
Mein Irisch Kind

Wo Weilest du?

T.S. Elliot The Burial Of The Dead
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Xiao Weng
Posted: May 7 2007, 12:41 PM


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Concur with Margrave. I think our graphics department needs to look this over again.


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user posted image
QUOTE (lamuella)
you just made a thread about the fact that someone has made a thread.

You should stop posting forever.

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Bob Janova
Posted: May 7 2007, 12:52 PM


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Excellent topic. I think the colours point should include the idea that most alliances will want to have their team colour as a strong part of their flag, even if it's not a 'correct' flag colour (e.g. purple, pink, aqua).


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Cirrus
Posted: May 7 2007, 12:56 PM


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^
Good point, and a good reason to deviate from the rules.

For ego's sake, here are the two cybernations flags I've designed:

For my alliance, Mutually Assured Defense:
(Posted Image)

... and for my country, Malla:
(Posted Image)


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user posted image
Designing a flag? Make sure it follows the rules!
Join Mutually Assured Defense. We're Blue, neutral, and worship mad cows. Hail Spongiformia!
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Emperor Fu
Posted: May 7 2007, 12:58 PM


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I kind of disagree with not having seals on flags. I do believe that the GPA's flag technically has a seal on it, and I think it makes the flag great. Some seals, I agree do not belond, but seals can look good on a flag if done right.

Other than that, nicely made FAQ.


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Kaiser Martens
Posted: May 7 2007, 01:04 PM


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As for the seals, I think some do look good, but as a general rule it is acceptable for them to be avoided.


Also, NoV's flag wins at this thread.


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QUOTE
<CatCow[FAN]> NPO is Russia
<CatCow[FAN]> GOONS are Germany
<CatCow[FAN]> and we're Poland...


Yah I'm back in NoV.
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Electron Sponge
Posted: May 7 2007, 01:12 PM


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This should be pinned or something.


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Galaisa
Posted: May 7 2007, 01:13 PM


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QUOTE (Kaiser Martens @ May 7 2007, 01:04 PM)
Also, NoV's flag wins at this thread.

/10 for creative use of colors :lol:


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Cirrus
Posted: May 7 2007, 01:16 PM


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I think seals follow the same general rules: If a seal is simple and distinctive, then it is ok on a flag. If it is complicated, overwhelmed with lettering and similar to 1,000,000 other seals out there, then not so much.

Here is one that I think works. Even though it is a complicated seal with many colors and even has lettering on it, the seal is a distinctive and simple enough overall shape that this flag could not possibly be mistaken for any other:
(Posted Image)

... But that having been said, this flag would still be more unique and recognizable if in the center it used a larger version of that little flower graphic (three on each side) rather than the seal.

This post has been edited by Cirrus on May 7 2007, 01:23 PM


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Designing a flag? Make sure it follows the rules!
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FlipWich
Posted: May 7 2007, 01:24 PM


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You forgot that every flag needs lense flare.


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ASCEND
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Terra Extraneus
Posted: May 7 2007, 01:28 PM


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I have flags... sort of... <psy?>

Only viewable on green team forums ;)


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mcbriddle
Posted: May 7 2007, 01:31 PM


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nice guidline :J


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Matthijs
Posted: May 7 2007, 01:45 PM


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Now I realize why the Warsaw Pact states failed. I mean, just look at this:

(Posted Image)

(Posted Image)

(Posted Image)

Plus, it can be very easily abused by opponents:

(Posted Image)

(Posted Image)

Keep it simple, stupid. :)


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QUOTE
the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism-will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe, "a pioneer in the libertarian tradition"(source) explaining "the freedom philosophy".
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Portugal
Posted: May 7 2007, 01:52 PM


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The flag guide is nice, but it fails alot in relevancy for CN. For instance, CN flag examples should of been used, and many points are simply useless here (spoiler: there are no sewing costs here, copy+paste is our hero in it, and there's no need to see the flags at a distance, because we can simply zoom in...).

Well, my opinion on it. Otherwise it might help some people from making over-complicated and otherwise unusable flags in this world.

This post has been edited by Portugal on May 7 2007, 01:52 PM
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Opethian
Posted: May 7 2007, 02:30 PM


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Good advice. The PPF flag is made of win:

(Posted Image)


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QUOTE (Deepthinker @ Aug 9 2007 @ 11:07 PM)
So I find the debate to be rather unlogical.

QUOTE (Branimir @ Apr 19 2007, 04:58 PM)
%@#* you all annoy me.
Call it what you wish if your to dumb to write Initiative.
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Cirrus
Posted: May 7 2007, 02:39 PM


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QUOTE
The flag guide is nice, but it fails alot in relevancy for CN. For instance, CN flag examples should of been used, and many points are simply useless here (spoiler: there are no sewing costs here, copy+paste is our hero in it, and there's no need to see the flags at a distance, because we can simply zoom in...).
Actually I do think that's pertinent. In CN terms it explains why lens flare and other photoshop effects look so silly. If it can't be sewn, it doesn't belong on a flag.

And you can only zoom in if it's a high resolution image. If it's little (like say the Malla flag in my sig), zooming in will do you no good.

This post has been edited by Cirrus on May 7 2007, 02:41 PM


--------------------
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Designing a flag? Make sure it follows the rules!
Join Mutually Assured Defense. We're Blue, neutral, and worship mad cows. Hail Spongiformia!
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Genau
Posted: May 7 2007, 02:47 PM


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Fantastic Guide. Good show.
Requesting pin.
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Portugal
Posted: May 7 2007, 02:47 PM


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QUOTE (Cirrus @ May 7 2007, 02:39 PM)
Actually I do think that's pertinent. In CN terms it explains why lens flare and other photoshop effects look so silly. If it can't be sewn, it doesn't belong on a flag.

And you can only zoom in if it's a high resolution image. If it's little (like say the Malla flag in my sig), zooming in will do you no good.

What? Lens flare is the best part of flags, why u haet D:
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Opethian
Posted: May 7 2007, 02:49 PM


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Had you thought of a more simplified version of your CN flag competition, Cirrus? I think the idea was neat, but your planned execution was too involved. It would be tough to create a system that is IMPARTIAL in how it chooses a flag, I guess.


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QUOTE (Deepthinker @ Aug 9 2007 @ 11:07 PM)
So I find the debate to be rather unlogical.

QUOTE (Branimir @ Apr 19 2007, 04:58 PM)
%@#* you all annoy me.
Call it what you wish if your to dumb to write Initiative.
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