A family shield was originally intended to identify warriors on the battlefield. Each family, or clan, had a designated design that had often been the same for hundreds of years. According to Fleur de Lis Designs, family shields typically include a family motto, shield, two animals to hold up the shield and a crest, which is the design above the shield. Today, many family shields have been lost or families may simply wish to make their own personal design, which is easy to do if you begin with these four basic elements of the family shield.
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Select the shield design. Shields can be very simple or ornate, depending on your preference. Fill your shield in with a background colour. In heraldry, colours are always symbolic. Blue, for example, symbolises truth and loyalty, whereas white symbolises peace or sincerity, according to Fleur de Lis Designs. You can also use a heraldic line to divide your shield. A wavy line, for example, symbolises water.
Choose your crest. A crest is usually a symbol used to denote a family's occupation or any noteworthy accomplishments. For example, if your family has a military background, your crest could be two intersecting axes, which symbolise military duty.
Choose your supporting animals. Each animal has a symbolic reference. Common family shield animals include bears, which symbolise cunning and strength; beavers, which represent perseverance, and the lion, which stands for courage. Animals are often portrayed standing on their hind legs and holding up the shield, although they can also be lying down, sitting or standing.
Write a family motto. If you can find your traditional motto, you might want to use it. If you want to make up your own, limit it to approximately 5 to 10 words that best express your family identity.
Combine your chosen symbols. If you are artistic, you can draw or paint your shield. Always place the shield and supporting animals in the middle of the page, with the crest above it. The family motto is usually written across the top of the shield and crest in a banner.
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