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  • Gina Baldwin

From Sketch to Life: Behind the Scenes Crafting a Personalised Coat of Arms

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

An inside look into the process of creating a personalised Coat of Arms.

Creating a Coat of Arms to represent an individual or family is a remarkable process that involves transforming their identity into a tangible and captivating masterpiece. From the spark of inspiration to the final stroke of the brush, each stage holds its own significance. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating journey of creating your own Coat of Arms, from the initial idea to meeting its new owner, encompassing stages such as the idea, the initial sketch, adjustments, the final piece, framing, and the joyous meeting with its new owner.

Stage 1: The Idea/Recipient:

Every Coat of Arms starts by looking at an individual or family, what is it about them that capture’s their personality. The concept may be inspired by personal experiences, hobbies, significant dates, or symbols. With this Coat of Arms, it was commissioned as a leaving gift for a rugby player that the customer sponsored. I was provided with the following key features about the individual that they wanted represented in the piece.

Rugby player for the Bristol Bears, leaving the team to play for Connacht.

Sponsored by the Beehive pub.

Shirt number 5

Favourite song - ‘Blackbird’ by the Wurzels

Favourite drink - cider

‘King of the Mead’ to be featured as a motto.

Receiving these details and understanding the intended recipient is a great starting point to tailor the Coat of Arms to create a meaningful and impactful piece. I always ask for at least 4 key details about an individual to create a piece.

Stage 2: The Initial Sketch:

From gaining a better understanding of who the recipient is, I research these features and try to figure out a concept to best represent each of these elements on the Coat of Arms. I find it best to put pen to paper and through exploration and experimentation, I transfer the customer’s vision into an initial sketch. The sketch serves as the foundation, capturing the essence of the concept and guiding subsequent adjustments and refinements. Here is the first sketch I showed to the customer and requested feedback.

A pencil sketch of a personalised coat of arms
Intial sketch of Coat of Arms Commission

Stage 3: Adjustments:

The initial sketch serves as a starting point for refining the artwork. I always find that once you create a sketch for a customer it helps them to narrow down their ideas and help you come to a middle ground of what they were envisioning married with your artistic style.

The customer was pleased with this starting point however had some extra elements they wanted to be included. Rather than just the apple branches representing the cider they wanted a glass of cider on the piece. They also wanted the additional motto, ‘A True Bristol Legend’. They also requested for me to include some colour into the sketch to get a better idea of how the final piece would look.

Pencil sketch for personalised Coat of Arms Commission
Amended pencil sketch for Coat of Arms Commission

After this feedback I made the adjustments and presented this sketch to the customer, which was approved.

This stage is crucial, as it allows me to bring the initial idea to life while ensuring harmony and coherence in the composition. It gives me the confidence that the customer and I are on the same page and that I have captured that individual’s identity for that meaningful gift.

Stage 4: The Final Piece:

At this stage I take the approved sketch as a guide and apply the concept onto canvas. The painting is built up in layers and can take depending on the size of the piece 7-15 hours over multiple sittings to create. Being a personalised gift, some customers also like to see behind the scenes progress shots to ensure that the Coat of Arms is perfect and show the journey to the recipient as part of the present. The final piece represents the culmination of skill, creativity, and countless hours of dedication, ready to be presented to the world and meet its new owner.

Hand painted final piece, personalised coat of arms
Final Piece - Coat of Arms, Acrylic on Canvas

Stage 5: Framing:

Framing plays a vital role in enhancing the visual impact and presentation of the artwork. The choice of frame can elevate the overall aesthetic, complement the style of the piece, and protect it from external elements. For this Coat of Arms, I selected a walnut finished frame which complimented the colour pallet and emphasised the regality of the piece.

Stage 6: Meeting its New Owner:

The most fulfilling moment for me is when my creation finds its new home and cherished owner!

It is wonderful to witness the emotional connection that the artwork evokes to the recipient as well as the customer, making that special occasion they are celebrating more meaningful.

Finished commission coat of arms with its new owner
Finished piece with it's new owner

Creating a piece of art is a journey filled with passion, creativity, and dedication. From the initial idea to meeting its new owner, each stage contributes to the evolution of the artwork, shaping it into a remarkable piece of expression.

I hope this has given a better insight to how you can commission your own Coat of Arms!


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