Fabric Patterns

Creating Fabric Patterns.

The code that creates normal heraldic treatments is very flexible and was easily modified to produce fabric like patterns. Although not remotely Heraldic they are included here in the hope that they might be useful for something. You can if you want to use them as the field for your arms but heraldic purists are unlikely to be happy about it!

Plaid Patterns

These patterns are based on those illustrated and discussed on this Plaid Lovers page. The patterns available are buffalo check, gingham, glen check (or Prince of Wales check), graph check, houndstooth and shepherd check.

These work exactly the same way as treatments and must be followed by two tinctures.

To see the appearance of these patterns look at the visual catalog page.

Tartan Patterns

Tartan patterns don't really fall into the heraldic way of doing things but it seemed a shame not to implement so I have added a small extra piece of syntax to allow them to be drawn. The implementation here is based on the Wikipedia discussion here, with additional information from the official Scottish Tartan Register.

The pattern name is (obviously) tartan and this should be followed by a series of colour names and thread widths. (Note that only colours may be used, not any other type of tincture). Thread widths are given as numbers. You should assume that there are 500 threads across the field, hence if your total thread widths add up to 50 your pattern will repeat 5 times across the full width. (Each pattern is 100 x 100 threads because of the mirrored repeat). So, for example:


tartan ancient black 4 scarlet 24 ancient black 24 yellow 4

Produces the rather lovely pattern:

Tartan swatch

Some tartan patterns use large (>100) or small (<20) total thread counts, and DrawShield will attempt to do some crude scaling in these cases to keep the tartan pattern size to similar dimensions as other treatments.

Note that using the tartan pattern will automatically enable the extra tartan colour set. You can use as many colour / thread count pairs as required, at least 4 for a proper "tartan" appearance. If required, a semi-colon can be used to separate the tartan description from any following content, and commas may be used between each item. You are not limited to tartan colours, but can use any of the colour sets that you have enabled (see below).

The referenced sources both mention rare cases in which the tartan pattern does not repeat in a mirror image. For this situation use the construction tartan no repeat followed by the colours and thread counts as normal.

You will sometimes find tartan specified in a compact form, like K4 R24 K24 Y4, where the letters reference a colour and the numbers are the count of threads for the associated colour. You can use these directly in a blazon but you MUST enclose them in double quotes, e.g. tartan "K4 R24 K24 Y4". Alternatively, if you would like to see the full colour names then a convertor for this process is provided below.

If you obtain threadcounts from the Scottish Tartan register above you may also find that the compact form also includes a "pallet" (their spelling) which describes the colours more precisely. These cannot be used directly with DrawShield, but you can use the convertor below which will produce a form usable in DrawShield. Also look out for the phrase:

Threadcount given over a half sett with full count at the pivots.

This means that the first and last counts should be halved for use in DrawShield - tick the box marked "Full count at the pivots?" if you see this phrase and the convertor will automatically make the appropriate adjustments.

Converts standard tartan descriptions into a form usable by DrawShield

Enter tartan components e.g. K4 R24 K24 Y4

Enter pallet sepcification e.g. K=101010BLACK;...

This is usually stated after the pallet


The colour mixing that occurs when threads "overlap" is very crude and not based on any physically realistic process. I might change this in the future if anyone reports it to be a problem.

Tattersall Pattern

The Plaid Lover's site referenced above also includes a fabric pattern known as Tattersall. This has 3 colours so doesn't really fit into the heraldic treatment paradigm,however it can be simulated by using the tartan pattern - the photograph on the plaid lover's can be simulated by entering tartan gules 3 argent 36 brunatre 3.

Additional Colours

For fabric design purposes you may find it useful to turn on the additional colour sets named wed and tartan as discussed here. As noted above, using the tartan pattern automatically enables the tartan colour set.

Visual Appearance

Since these patterns are not really heraldic it may not seem appropriate to display on a shield. As an alternative you may wish to the shape swatch, which is chosen from the drop-down Preferences pane and is intended to look like a material sample. Alternatively you can append drawn using the swatch shape to the end of the blazon

In addition, there is a visual effect which can be applied, specifically created for these patterns, Fabric. This can also be selected from the drop-down Preferences menu, or by appending drawn using the fabric effect to the end of the blazon. Note that this effect darkens the colours somewhat, so may always be suitable, but it does like nice, especially on tartans, which are very subdued anyway.

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