We have already learnt about the field or background of the shield and know that we can give it a single tincture (colour), or split it into two parts, each with a different tincture. We will now look at another option for the field, that of using a fur.
Furs are so called because they are (highly stylised) representations of animal furs 1. There are 3 basic furs:
Ermine (representing the fur of a small white mouse with a black tail, native to Armenia)
Vair (origin obscure, but possibly representing skins of the small animal of the same name, stitched together)2
Potent (Like the head of a crutch but possibly just an even more stylised version of vair.)
The image above shows the three basic furs, and in the 4th quarter a variant of ermine known as pean.. You can see the complete
set of available furs in the visual catalog.
The important point to recognise with furs is that you use them as if
they were tinctures. Recall the first lesson, if we want a field (background) of ermine with a blue bend we would write ermine a bend azure.
In theory, you can use a fur instead of a plain tincture anywhere. This works well on the larger ordinaries, or in place of a single tincture in a divided shield, but smaller items and most charges will
not work very effectively and should probably be avoided.
1. Rest assured that all furs used in DrawShield are artificial and no animals were harmed during the creation of the program.
2. An interesting side note is that it was a mistranslation from French of vair as verre, or "glass" that turned
Cinderella's perfectly comfortable and sensible "Fur slippers" into uncomfortable and impractical "glass slippers"!
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