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Cirrus

Flag Creation

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tl;dr:

1. Keep it simple.

2. Don't be random.

3. High contrast is good.

4. NO LETTERING!

5. Be distinctive.

6. Be realistic.

This is a repost from the old forum, though I've made some modifications to relate it more to CN. Rules and imagery are originally courtesy the North American Vexillological Association.

The Six Rules of Good Flag Design:

The purpose of a flag is to be a clear, unique identifier for your nation/alliance. The following guidelines will help you design a flag that effectively accomplishes that goal.

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.

1. Keep It Simple

A child should be able to draw your flag from memory.

Flags flap, drape and must be easily identifiable from a distance (and as very small "thumbnail" graphics). Under these circumstances, only simple designs are effective. Avoid the temptation to use photoshop effects - they are difficult to see and are unrealistic (see rule 6). Complicated flags are not only more difficult to identify, but cost more to make in the real world, which limits how widely they can be used. Most overly complicated flag designs have the elements of a great flag in them; they just need to be simplified by focusing on a single symbol and simple colors. Avoid the temptation to include a lot of different symbols for every group you're trying to represent, as that could clutter the design. Ideally the design will be reversible or at least recognizable from either side; don't put a different design on the back.

Good:

gfbf-44.gif

With bold, contrasting colors, large shapes, and parallel lines, this flag is also easily recognized when reversed. (Congo)

Bad:

gfbf-57.gif

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.

Don't be random. 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, and try to avoid symbols that aren't unique, or aren't representative of anything. Colors often carry meanings: Red for blood or sacrifice, white for purity, blue for water or sky, etc. In cybernations team color can be an important symbol. Diagonal stripes are often used by former colonies as an alternative to the generally horizontal and vertical stripes of European countries.

Good:

gfbf-61.gif

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

Bad:

gfbf-75.gif

This flag depicts the flags of all the member countries. Not only is it unreadable, but it must be changed each time one joins, drops out, or changes its flag! (Organization of American States)

3. Use About 3 Solid, Contrasting Colors

To be easily identifiable, colors should be simple and highly contrasting.

The basic flag colors are Red, Blue, Green, Black, Yellow, and White. Other colors can be used (Purple, Orange, etc), but always use solid colors, never a gradient. Separate dark colors with a light color and light colors with a dark color to help create effective contrast. A good flag should also reproduce well in grayscale (black & white). More than four colors are hard to distinguish and make the flag unnecessarily complicated and expensive, so limit your palette.

Good:

gfbf-86.gif

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

Bad:

gfbf-87.gif

Too many colors! At the least, the yellow and white should be separating the dark colors so the various stripes contrast more. Also, the dragon is too complex to make out except from up close (see rules 1 and 4). (Chinese Admiral)

4. No Lettering or Seals

Never use writing or any detailed seals on a flag; they defeat the point and are hard to read.

Why not just write "U.S.A." on a flag instead of using the stars and stripes? Because flags are supposed to be graphic symbols; words defeat the purpose. Lettering is also nearly impossible to read from a distance, difficult to reduce to thumbnail image size, and hard to sew in the real world. Words are not reversible, which forces double or triple-thick fabric. Don't confuse a flag with a banner, such as what is carried in front of a marching band in a parade, draped behind a speaker's platform, or placed at the top of your alliance forum. Banners don't flap, don't have to be resized, and are seen from only one side, while flags are much more dynamic and therefore must be much simpler. Likewise, seals were designed for placement on paper to be read at close range. Most seals are very detailed, which makes then ineffective for flags. Better to use some single element from the seal rather than the seal itself. Occasionally logos, crests or shields can work, but usually they have the same problems as seals.

Good:

gfbf-112.gif

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:

gfbf-113.gif

It's impossible to make out the details of the central seal in this flag. Even worse, since 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 outright, but use similarities to show relationships

This is perhaps the most difficult principle, but it is very important. Sometimes the good designs are already "taken". Duplicating or recalling another flag's symbols, colors, or shapes can be 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 team, alliance or national identity.

Good:

gfbf-118.gif

Using the same colors as the flags of many other African countries, this flag shows a strong connection to its neighbors. You know it's an African flag right away. (Ghana)

Bad:

gfbf-119.gif

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. Simple is good, but this one takes it too far. (Indonesia)

6. Be Realistic

Shape: 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, and pennants even more so. Abandon normal rectangles only when meaningful.

Placement of symbols: Your most important symbols should be located where they will be most visible. The point of honor is the "canton" area in 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. Discounting wind, Americans and Europeans read top-to-bottom and left-to-right, so when we look at a graphic, we naturally look first towards the upper left. Flags that break this consideration tend to look awkward and unrealistic.

Keep in mind real-life issues: 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. As with wind, these issues may not directly affect the cyberverse, but designs that don't take them into consideration won't look realistic.

Good:

_44104957_namibia-flag203.jpg

This flag's only non-stripe graphical element is located where it will be visible most often. (Namibia)

Bad:

zambia_flag.gif

This flag will appear to be a blank green sheet unless the wind is blowing strongly. (Zambia)

Breaking The Rules

Only break the rules if you have a good reason: All rules have exceptions. Colorado's "C" is a stunning graphic element even though it's technically a letter; the fact that it is used as a symbol instead of a letter makes it more effective than normal writing. Maryland's complicated heraldic quarters produce a memorable and distinctive flag. You can break the rules, but do so only with caution and purpose.

gfbf-15.gif

Colorado

gfbf-16.gif

Maryland

Examples from CN:

200px-Novplainpeace.png

Norden Verein's flag is clear and unmistakable at any size (rule 1). Its colors and shapes are easily distinguished (3), and its design reflects NoV's northern European focus (5).

150px-IRON.svg.png

The map on IRON's flag is difficult to make out at this scale (1). It has lots of lettering (4). What do the stars mean? It seems like they're there just to fill up space (2).

NpOFlag7.jpg

NpO's flag puts its most important symbol in the center (6), uses clear colors (3), and reflects Polar's Pacific heritage (5).

ONOSflag.jpg

The black, maroon and deep gold stars on ONOS' flag don't contrast enough and are difficult to make out (3). Like IRON, it uses stars for no apparent reason except to fill space (2).

50px-Wolf_Pack_RED.jpg50px-STAflagsmall.jpg

Wolfpack's complicated, heavily-photoshopped flag (left) is totally unidentifiable at small size (1). On the other hand, STA's flag (right, and below) is unmistakable due to to its simplicity (1) and highly contrasting colors (3). Even the relatively complicated tiger graphic is identifiable at small size, partly because it's a clean design (1) and partly because with a name like Siberian Tiger Alliance, you expect to see a tiger on the flag (2). Putting the graphic in the canton also ensures maximum visibility (6), and lets us know it is an important symbol.

STAflagsmall.jpg

Edited by Cirrus

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Cirrus, you are brilliant. Heavily photoshopping something, shouldn't be for flags, save it for alliance announcement banners. NPO and NpO, in my opinion, have some of the best flags, along with VE and PPF.

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Cirrus, you are brilliant. Heavily photoshopping something, shouldn't be for flags, save it for alliance announcement banners. NPO and NpO, in my opinion, have some of the best flags, along with VE and PPF.

I think my flag fits it well.

ubersteinflagjx7.jpg

If CN allowed personal flags, that would be the Uberstein Empire's. The spade is Uberstein's personal symbol, and the X's are reactionary or revolutionary symbols in their own way.

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Hmm...I don't like your flag - I don't think the brown goes with the red and I think it would look better if each half was separated by a central centre point (if you get me!), but yeah at least you made an effort.

Also, clubs, not spades.

EDIT: Here's mine:

Marshdonia_flag.jpg

Nothing special, but it's not a huge part of the game ^_^

Edited by James I

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An important read that all alliances should follow. A testimonial:

When I joined Invicta in August by virtue of PAW merging into its ranks, this was Invicta's flag:

invictarpw.jpg

As you can tell, a lot of problems with it. Multiple colours, no dominant symbol, text on the flag (in three different fonts!) All in all, more suitable as a design for a coaster on which to set my can of Mountain Dew.

In October, Dawny opened a contest to all members asking them to design a simpler flag, along with me presenting these standards to the members. As a result, we selected a design by lost of Agrarian Aguacenta that we believe certainly and succinctly conveyed facets of our alliance:

t113735110.png

The purple's actually purple, it only has three colours, we have a dominant symbol, no text, etc. Easily it stands out and can be replicated to still represent our alliance.

And since then, we've put that horse design to other locations, notably ribbons and our commonly accepted seal:

t129407027.png

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Why not just write "U.S.A." on a flag instead of using the stars and stripes? Because flags are supposed to be graphic symbols; words defeat the purpose. Lettering is also nearly impossible to read from a distance, hard to sew, and difficult to reduce to thumbnail image size. Words are not reversible, which forces double or triple-thick 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. Banners don’t flap and are seen from one side, while flags are much more dynamic and therefore must be much simpler.

All this applies to the communist flag above. It is not an exception just because the text is easy to read at that particular size. For the most part, the only exception to the no lettering rule is when you are using one letter as if it were a graphic symbol, as Sparta does with its flag:

200px-Redsparta_flag_2.jpg

I feel Sparta's flag could be improved upon in some ways, but it is a good example of what constitutes appropriate use of lettering.

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OOC: You might also want to use Lybia's national flag as a bad flag. Sometimes, having a flag too simple is bad.

Edit: Also, in your opinion, would you consider the ENA flag to be a good one?

Flagagainrc9.png

Edited by ameris

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I think it has one too many colors. Or maybe it's the lack of contrast between the brown, red and black. Something isn't right, but it's close.

And yeah, obviously Libya is too simple. For those who don't know, Libya's flag is an undecorated solid green sheet.

Edited by Cirrus

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moderate.png

This is the flag of the Soviet Republic of Gallipoli. You like?

Let's see if I can remember the symbolism...

The red and black are the traditional colors of socialism and anarchism respectively (you knew that). Their arrangement indicates socialism's more exalted position in my nation while acknowledging anarchists' contributions, and also evokes the anarcho-syndicalist flag without being quite so ugly. The crescent moon is a symbol of Islam, but is turned to the left rather than the right as is the normal use. This is to show Gallipoli's turn towards laicism and secularism rather than religiosity or theocracy. The arrow is a symbol for Turks, and evokes a warrior past and a will to fight to maintain the gains of the socialist revolution. The star symbolizes the hope for a more just future.

P.S. you'll get a free shave if you know which RL flag is my flag's closest analogue

Edited by Sovyet Gelibolu

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moderate.png

This is the flag of the Soviet Republic of Gallipoli. You like?

Let's see if I can remember the symbolism...

The red and black are the traditional colors of socialism and anarchism respectively (you knew that). Their arrangement indicates socialism's more exalted position in my nation while acknowledging anarchists' contributions, and also evokes the anarcho-syndicalist flag without being quite so ugly. The crescent moon is a symbol of Islam, but is turned to the left rather than the right as is the normal use. This is to show Gallipoli's turn towards laicism and secularism rather than religiosity or theocracy. The arrow is a symbol for Turks, and evokes a warrior past and a will to fight to maintain the gains of the socialist revolution. The star symbolizes the hope for a more just future.

P.S. you'll get a free shave if you know which RL flag is my flag's closest analogue

Turkey?

tu-lgflag.gif

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Photoshop

GIMP

Paint Shop Pro

Paint will do it for you if it's super simple, I guess.

Or if you have the near-infinite patience required to go through thousands of pixels and make miniscule color changes to each one individually.

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Another rather strange flag is the Mozambiqu flag

mz-lgflag.gif

It depicts a hoe for farming which is quite unusual in Mozambique. The book is also quite startling to see on the flag as well in a country renown for poverty. However the symolism of the AK-47 with attached bayonet is unmatched on any other flag I've seen. If you noticed as well, the Russian red and star is also quite evident from when the USSR were the main protectors and suppliers of weapons to Mozambique. The Russian red is also quite evident on some of the other flags, like the Angolan one below. The green, black, white and yellow, in my opnion do a good job of capturing the African colours. Perhaps the only failing from the perscribed list above is that the left side of the flag is far more detailed than the right and center of the flag. However, if I heard right, they are planning on doing away with this flag - the AK portaits too much of a negaitive image. In some ways this is a real shame as it is perhaps a rare kind of flag that says so much just by a simple image and colouring. On the other hand, perhaps what Mozambique really needs in a clean break from the past... the arguements are endless.

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seflagrx6.png

I made that for a RP, I think it fits well. It has 3 Alchemic Symbols that represent words, the Green banner to reprsent farming, a major part of the nation, it's outlined in gold, showing Royalty or superiority. It's purple because I wanted it to be purple.

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OOC: You might also want to use Lybia's national flag as a bad flag. Sometimes, having a flag too simple is bad.

Nope, it follows rule #5. It was a US Colony.

Edited by Grand Vizier

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