Vexillology enthousiasts, like us here at Flagmaker & Print, love imagining new countries
By studying and deconstructing the symbols of current-day countries, we can imagine our own which creates awesome flags to decorate our space and worlds.
Flagmaker & Print was founded to have a dedicated flag making and printing service, and a community dedicated to the study and improvement of fictional flags.
A canton is 1/4th of a flag's field, usually in the top-left corner. This is also described as
'canton hoist' or 'canton sinister'. Popular examples are the Australian and New Zealand flags,
which feature the British Union jack in their canton.
This is a hold-over from their days as a colony, and many debates are ongoing on designing a new flag for these countries that does not feature the British flag.
A 'Field' refers to the full front of the flag. A flag can be described as being 'on a field of red'
to describe a solid color flag.
Solid field national flags are rare in the wider world. The last official 'one color' flag was that of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, which consisted of a green field. The flag was replaced by the old Kingdom of Libya flag after Ghadaffi's fall in 2011.
Sinister or Hoist
The Sinister or Hoist side refers to the flag's left side when seen from the front. This side is hung from the pole or 'hoist'
Dextera or Fly
Opposite of that, the Dextera or Fly side of the flag is the side 'flying' in the wind - the right half of the flag when seen from the front
Describing a Flag
Putting these terms together, Hoist refers to the vertical aspect of the flag, Fly to the horizontal. The outward dimensions of the flag are referred to as Width vs Length.
Pales refers to flags divided along the fly. Popular flags include the republic tricolors like those of Italy, France, Belgium, and various South-African nations
The Fesses flags, with horizontal bands, represent a focus on authority over republicanism. They are most common in old European monarchies such as Austria, Germany, Russia and others.
As mentioned above, cantons are often associated with colonial holdings or sub-flags. Popular examples include the British Naval Jack or old British colony flags.
Quarterly flags feature checkered patterns, often combined with an English Cross. Popular examples include the flag of the Dominican Republic and various German states.
Border flags feature a trim along the edges - often associated with a heraldic device
Bends flags are split across their diagonal. Popular examples include revolutionary anarchist flags, or the flag of Brunei.
The saltire flag is crossed across both her diagonals - popular examples include Scotland and Gascony.
The Chevron flag features a triangle crossing half of the flag. Popular examples include the flag of Cuba and various other island states.
The Pall flag is a combination of the Chevron with the Saltire. The flag of South-Africa is a great example
The Symmetric, or English Cross, is split across both the hoist and fly side. The flag of England is a good example.
The Scandinavian Cross, or Nordic Cross as it is commonly referred to, is a cross with the hoist vertical placed on 1/3rd of the flag's length. This flag is used by the Nordic Countries.
The Greek Cross is sometimes wrongfully referred to as the Swiss Cross. This symbol grew from the Orthodox Christian church and predates the formation of Switzerland by at least a couple centuries.
The Principles of Good Flag Design
Keep it Simple
(Pictured: Flag of Japan)
The Rising Sun is a national symbol of Japan, and is wonderfully represented in this simple but effective flag.
Use Meaningful Symbolism
(Pictured: Flag of Turkey)
The Crescent and Star are the symbols of the Ummah, or muslim people of the world. The red and white refer to Turkey specifically as one nation under God.
Use only two or three basic colors
The tricolore, or tri-band Republican flag of France represents the national values of the French Revolution: Equality, Brotherhood and Freedom
No Lettering or Seals
US State and county flags are notorious for offending vexillology principles, though a lot of reworked flags are underway.
Be Distinctive, or Be Related
The Flag of Italy references the French Revolution as the birth of it's own Republic, but switches out the French colour for decidedly Italian themes.
A word from our founder
I hope you found this information helpful! With these basics, you are all set to get to work on designing your own flag to hang in your home. Good luck, vexillologists!