Drawing a Dozen Different Dragons

Much of this blog is dedicated to the Heraldry I draw for specific clients. Aside from the Pennsic Reference Boards, I haven’t talked about the hours I spend at Pennsic and at home, consulting on heraldic art via Oscar and the Baby Heralds FaceBook group.

In addition to that, I am the Herald who envisioned the newest version of the Traceable Heraldic Art Project. Not long after I began working on it, Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin stepped in to help. He has software that can convert line art into vector art, and the server space to host HeraldicArt.org.

Vector art is different from scans of line drawings because it is scaleable. If you take a photograph to a copy shop and make it twice as large, some of the details will blur due to the limitations of the DPI (Dots Per Inch) of the photo. Vector art is different because it can be enlarged and shrunk on a computer and not become blurry.

Making the new Traceable Art in vector format allows the artwork to be reproduced at any size or scale, from combat shields to banners and tabbards or list tree shields. Vector art allows people to have artwork that is more complicated than they can draw.

This project is enormous. It incorporates most of the Pennsic Traceable Art, as well as all the backgrounds for heraldic shields (called Field Divisions). Additionally, we are including heraldic artwork created by artists around the world.

One set of artistic compilations was created in 1994 by Herald Torric inn Bjarni. His work is incredibly detailed, but his use of shading and hatching are difficult to translate into vector art. One of my tasks as an artist is to take his artwork and turn it into drawings that are easily converted to vectors. This is a huge task, because he compiled his drawings in a way to save space and paper, often using dashed lines and small notes to indicate how alternate versions of a creature would be drawn. These are scans from a few of his drawings.


I have scanned these versions of dragons, and the other pieces that allow different variants to be drawn. The dragon has four legs, while the wyvern has only two. Additionally, Torric made notes on basilisks and cockatrices, which I also drew. These combinations resulted in drawing a baker’s dozen different variations of the same dratted dragon.

DragonsSittingHere are the first two dragons. The dragon on the left is Sejant, or in a seated pose.

The dragon on the right is Sejant Erect, or sitting with a raised limb.




In contrast, these two wyverns have only two legs. They are also displayed as Sejant and Sejant Erect.



With Torric’s note of the cockatrice head and the beginning of wings in the thumbnail drawing, I was able to piece together drawings. A cockatrice is a wyvern with the head of a cock.



A basilisk  is only different from a cockatrice because it has a dragon’s head at the end of its tail.


After drawing eight pictures of similar creatures, I was delighted to draw these dragons Couchant, or crouching. The right dragon is Coucant Erect, or crouching with one limb raised.


And here are another two versions of the Couchant dragons, with their wings folded. Having many variations of heraldic animals can be helpful when artists are placing images within limited space.


Finally, here is the dragon Dormant, or sleeping. The Hogwarts motto “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus” seems appropriate here, since you should never tickle a sleeping dragon.DragonDormant





A Tale of Two Chinstraps

PaintedHelmMany of my blog posts are dedicated to the sport of Heavy List fighting. The Society for Creative Anachronisms counts its members in hundreds of thousands, with roughly ten to twenty percent are fighters. This means not many sports equipment items are mass produced (aside from repurposed hockey and lacrosse gear). Fighters spend a lot of time creating, maintaining, and modifying their gear.

Heavy List helms are often the most expensive part of a fighter’s armor kit. This is my helm, made by my friend Hjalmar. He makes simple, solid, inexpensive helms and is willing to do a small amount of custom work for a bit extra. If you’re wondering why I have an oddly shaped “F” on my helm, it’s me being geeky. That rune is Ansuz, which is an “A” in the Old Norse alphabet. I chose it because I enjoy having a Viking version of Captain America’s helm. This is my creative anachronism.

Enough about my helm. This is a post about chin straps. Chin straps are a small part of a fighting kit, and they’re easy to not think about. I was fighting Duke Brennan in a tournament last year, and my helm slid off because I didn’t have a secure chin strap. I hope to live that down someday, but in the meantime I have put a lot of thought into chin strap designs. The photo shows my three piece chinstrap on the left, and the single piece chinstrap on the right.


I created a PDF of the patterns by scanning the graph paper design I used for these two types of straps:   VedardottirChinStraps

WordPress does not display a preview PDFs,  so here is a small screen capture of the file.

When you print the PDF, be sure to choose the option that allows the PDF to expand to fill the entire page. “Fit to page” is the key phrase on most printers.


Making your chinstrap will require a 5×8″ piece of leather that is as thick as a leather belt. You will need rivets and an anvil in addition to the tools described in my post Beginning Sewing and Leather Working.


leathertapedI cut the pattern out and placed it on the leather. Next, I taped the pattern onto the leather with masking tape. This keeps the pattern from sliding off the smooth leather as it is cut.


Finally, punch the holes, then fold the leather over and rivet it together. This photo shows the loops of the more complicated chin strap. The strap cut from a single piece of leather simply folds over.

EKwiki Part 3: Adding Personal Information

This article covers what information can be posted on your East Kingdom Wiki page.

If you need to make a page, please refer to EKWiki Part 1: Why a Wiki?
If you need to add images to your page, please refer to EKwiki Part 2: Adding Photos and Images

This post covers:
1. An overview of what to add to your EKwiki.
2. How to add your personal information to the wiki.
3. An explanation of the wiki formatting tools.

The final part of your EKwiki page is adding your persona information. In some ways, this is the hardest part of creating your EKwiki. I can write technical instructions all day, but choosing what to share with the entire society is less cut-and-dried.

Describing your persona is helpful for people who want to get to know you better. If you haven’t created a persona, you can list your favorite activities. If an artist is drawing a scroll for you, they can personalize the artwork. Even just listing your favorite colors is good.

There are Categories listed in the “edit” tab at the top of the page, which are noted with pairs of equals signs:  ==  == . You can create or delete any category you wish. If you’re a newcomer and haven’t worked as an officer or created any publications, you can simply delete those lines of text. I removed the ‘officer’ section from my EKwiki and replaced it with a section on my heraldry.

To link to another page in the EKwiki, you put that page name inside two sets of brackets. My consort’s page links to mine with the code Create19.JPG“In Case of Court, please contact [[Thory Vedardottir]].” The link displayed on his wiki is this.

If you want to link to a different website from the EKwiki, put both the website text (called a URL) and a description of the website in a set of brackets. Be sure to leave a space between the URL and the first word of the description, or the description will look odd and the website will not load. This is what the typed text linking to my local group looks like:


To make a bulleted list, simply make each item on the list begin with an asterisk (*). This text is on the left and the result is on the right:
Create18*Please do not surprise due to anxiety.
*Please summon to RP event in advance or use a writ.

Finally, there is the category called, In Case of Court. It is a new addition to the EKwiki created by Duke Brennan, and is very helpful. The problem with awards is that award presentation has several aspects.

Awards are bestowed upon people who volunteer for the society, and as such receiving an award is often a surprise. (Awards are not like elementary school trophies, and are not handed out for merely participating. Awards are intended to be given to people who are helping for the sake of helping, not merely chasing prizes.)

Surprise awards can be tricky because the people who recommend someone for an award may not know how to ensure that person will be at an event to receive it. By listing a friend, mentor, or partner in your In Case of Court, it is much easier to receive an award. The double brackets [[ ]] let you link to their page.

For people who do not like surprises, or have anxiety when they are called before a crowd, they can simply write, “Please do not surprise due to anxiety”

Thank you for reading my  post on what to put on your East Kingdom Wiki page. If you need to make a page, or are wondering why having an EKwiki page is useful, please refer to  EKWiki Part 1: Why a Wiki?

If you need to add images to your page, please refer to EKwiki Part 2: Adding Photos and Images

EKwiki Part 2: Adding Photos and Images

This article covers how to post photographs and other images on your East Kingdom Wiki page. If you need to make a page, please refer to EKWiki Part 1: Why a Wiki? If you have photos and images uploaded and linked, you can go to EKwiki Part 3: Adding Personal Information.

This post explains:
1. How to upload a photo of yourself.
2. How to upload other images.
3. How to edit your EKwiki page to show these images.

The best thing you can do with your EKwiki page is to post a photo of yourself in garb. This will help both the people who are nominating you for an award, and the people who review the nomination.

To upload a picture, use the “upload file” button on the sidebar of the EKwiki page, or go directly to https://wiki.eastkingdom.org/index.php?title=Special:Upload

In the Upload page, select a file to load from your computer or phone onto the EKwiki. Click “Choose File” button to begin.


If you have a photo, you can choose it, and that photo will be uploaded (make it a part of the EKwiki until it is actively removed). This screenshot shows where the Downloads folder is in Windows:

Create7If you do not have a photo ready,  download one (move it down from the internet and put it on to your device). On a computer, you can right click on a photo on FaceBook or another site, and choose the option “Save Image As”. This saves the picture to your Downloads folder, or whatever location you have set as the default. If you are working from a phone, the photos you take may be in a folder called Photos. After you have downloaded your photo, note its file name. In the example, that is “IMG_20171027-163334”

You should upload an image that includes your SCA name, so it is easy to find. You should not upload your image with the file name “Photo needed.jpg” or “Device needed.jpg” This will alter every filler image in the wiki, causing confusion.

FaceBook is an excellent place to ask for help if you have a hard time uploading photos. One thing that makes wikis easy to use is that anyone can upload photos and images to any page.

After the photo is uploaded, you can upload an image of your heraldry. Herald’s point provides submitters with a paper copy of their devices. If you have misplaced the paperwork, it is displayed on the Oscar database and your local herald should be able to send you the image file or upload it to the EKwiki. (If your local herald isn’t familiar with Oscar, you can ask for help from the baby heralds FaceBook group.)

After the images are uploaded to the wiki, link your page to the images. Click on the “edit” tab at the top of the page. This function allows you to edit the entire EKwiki page, including the images on the side bar that display your photo and heraldry.



If you only need to add a little information, such as describing your persona, you can click on the [edit] in brackets beside that topic.Create10

Clicking the “edit” tab at the top of the page displays a text box, shown on the left.

Replace “Photo needed” with your file name, in this example “”IMG_20171027-163334”. Note that you will need to replace only the characters in “Photo needed” – if you replace even as much as the colon (:) after the word “Image” the EKwiki page will not load properly.

Do not upload an image with the file name “Photo needed.jpg” or “Device needed.jpg” This will alter every filler image in the wiki, causing confusion. Include your name in the file name.


If you have received awards or are working as an officer for your local barony or shire, you should include that information on your page. For complete list of these codes, go to the Awards & Templates List.

The awards and officer positions are encased in two sets of curly brackets {{ }} . These brackets act as a type of code for the EKwiki. Just like HTML bracket issues, if your EKwiki page looks visibly wrong, it is likely caused by a missing bracket.








After you have entered any Awards or Offices, click Save Page at the bottom. When your page displays, you can verify that the images are correct.

To add personal information in the body of your EKwiki,  please visit  EKwiki Part 3: Adding Personal Information.

Thank you for reading my  post on what to put on your East Kingdom Wiki page. If you need to make a page, or are wondering why having an EKwiki page is useful, please refer to my post EKWiki Part 1: Why a Wiki? 

EKWiki Part 1: Why a Wiki?

This article covers what information can be posted on your East Kingdom Wiki page, and how to make your own page. If you need to upload and display photos and images, you can go to  EKwiki Part 2: Adding Photos and Images. If you are ready to add your information, please visit EKwiki Part 3: Adding Personal Information.

This post explains:
1. How to request an EKwiki account.
2. How to create an EKwiki page with your name.
3. How to add a boilerplate template to your EKwiki page.

The East Kingdom Wiki is a useful tool. It is a site dedicated to the populace of the East Kingdom–every member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms on the east coast from New Jersey all the way to Newfoundland.  The EKwiki is a place to tell your story, share your photo, display your heraldry, and list any awards you have received. As a non-profit organization, the society runs on volunteer power. We grant awards to acknowledge the time and energy members put in, since we can’t award bonuses or raises.

I can wax poetic about the EKwiki, though it is mostly used as a reference page for awards, and for the people who will write and illustrate award scrolls. Any person can nominate anyone for an award, and one of the submissions questions asks for a photo of the person you are nominating for an award. The east kingdom maintains award database called the Order of Precedence, but it is far easier to look up someone on the EKwiki.

You will need several things before you create your own EKwiki page. First, you will need to request an account. Accounts are usually approved in a day or so, and while they request your legal name, the site will never display it. The society uses only persona name on the internet and at events.

After you have an account, you can create a Wiki page under your persona name. (If you don’t have a name yet, I have a post that explains the naming process called  What’s in a (Heraldic) Name?) If your name changes between when you create your wiki and when your name is registered with the college of heralds, you can ask an administrator to change the wiki.


The other things you will need are a photo of yourself in garb, and an image of your heraldry. (If you don’t have heraldry, I have a post about Choosing Your Heraldry.) Finally, I encourage both heavy list fighters and fencers to take a photo of yourself in your kit, holding your helm. This is useful because you might not recognize someone’s face from the other end of the kingdom, but you will remember that viking knight with the two longswords who hit you seven times before landing a killing blow.

To create a new page, log in to the EKwiki and then type your full persona name into the Search box on the left side of the screen, and click “Go”. This is a screen capture of the box.

The example below shows a Search for a page called “H”. To make an EKwiki page H, you would click on the red “H” in the Search Results. To make your page on the wiki, you will need to type your SCA first and last name into the box and click “Search.”

Using a from of your name in Roman characters is best, because searching non-ASCII characters is problematic. (My registered name is Þórý Veðardóttir, but my wiki page is Thory Vedardottir.)


At this step, you choose which sort of page wiki page you want. This article focuses on creating an EKwiki page for your persona, which falls into the “Populace” category. Other types of pages are households and guilds.

Selecting a boilerplate is another way to say you are choosing the “Populace” template to be the base of your EKwiki page. Click the “Load” button  to load this template and wait for the information to fill into the text box.


Once you have clicked “Load,” the wiki text box will populate with code. This code is specific to wiki spaces and doesn’t work exactly like HTML.

(You don’t need to know HTML or other programming skills to make an EKwiki page. If you’d like to learn the basics and understand how tags work, I have a post explaining Basic HTML Commands.)

After the boilerplate text appears in the text box, save this template by clicking the “Save page” button at the bottom of the screen.



One of the interesting and useful features of wiki programs is that they will save every version of the pages, recording edits.

Users only see the most up-to-date information, but the wiki saves and records every change. (This is useful if the page is hacked, or your information is lost.)

A video game mantra is to “save early; save often,” and this applies to wikis. At this step, you want to save the boilerplate information by clicking “Save page.”  Then if you drop something on your keyboard, you can simply click on “Cancel” and any changes you made in the text box will be erased and your wiki page will revert to its last saved point.

EKwiki Part 2: What to Post covers uploading images and information to your EKwiki page. If you have photos and images uploaded and linked, you can go to EKwiki Part 3: Adding Personal Information.

Basic HTML Commands

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and can be used to enhance a book’s description. The building blocks of HTML are its tags. Tags are instructions for the web browser, such as Firefox or Chrome, that describe how text should be displayed.

Almost all tags come in pairs. This allows the coder to specify where an instruction begins, and where it ends. A tag is contained within brackets, like this:  < > . Anything typed within these brackets will not be displayed in the resulting HTML text.

The three most basic tags are for bold, italic, and underlined text. Here is what these tags look like when typed into the HTML box, with the results:HTML1

Note that each tag begins with a command in brackets, and ends with a command that contains a backslash. The backslash tells the HTML to stop applying that tag. When you are troubleshooting incorrect HTML, you will see most errors coming from unclosed tags.

More than one tag can be used at once, which is referred to as ‘nesting’ tags. Here are some examples of nested tags:


Bulleted lists require more complex tags: one to communicate that there will be a list, and one to describe each bullet. The <ul> tag begins and ends the list, and the <li> tag is used for every item.

If the list needs to have a secondary or tertiary indent, simply nest <ul> tags.
Some HTML input boxes will interpret carriage returns as a request for additional space. If the bulleted list requires sub-bullets, be sure to Preview the result before submitting it.
Finally, there are carriage returns. Many HTML input boxes will accept carriage returns as paragraph breaks. Adding the <p> tag errs on the side of caution and ensures a carriage return. The <p> tag is one of the few HTML tags that does not require an end command.

All these tags can be combined.HTML9
When adding HTML tags to a block of text, it is most efficient to add the tags for bold, underlined or italic text first. Lists will sometimes contain tagged text, and it is easy to overlook the text within a list item, so lists should be tagged after text. Finally, paragraph tags should be added.

A Herald Stick for Crown Tournament

The SCA holds a Crown Tournament twice a year, in the fall and spring. The winner and their consort then become the Royal Heirs, and six months later they are crowned royalty. This puts a lot of pressure on the Heavy List fighters who compete, and can be dangerous if the spectators stand too close. To keep everyone safe, the combat spaces are marked by waist-high ropes, and Marshals sometimes need to place their staff against the back of a fighter’s armor and loudly tell them, “This is the Edge of the World!”


In addition to the Marshals, Voice Heralds will be the only people on the fields who are not in armor. Many of them wear white and carry a one- or two-foot white painted Herald Stick. As both a Heavy List fighter and a Herald, I wanted my Herald Stick to be close to the length of a Marshal Stick, but painted white instead of a Marshal’s yellow-and-black. I bought a heavy duty hardwood closet pole to become my stick.

I wanted my stick to have rounded ends, like a larger version of the normal herald sticks. I had a drywall plane left over from another woodworking project, so I used it to take the edges off of my stick. I could have used a carving knife or a rasp, but this was faster.



This is how I started to cut the curve out of the top of my stick, working hard to make the top curve, and lightly taking the wood away farther from the top.


This is the rough shape of the top of the staff. I deliberately left a bit of the purple end marking on the very top, to show just how much material was cut away.


Here is the rounded stick top after I used sandpaper to even out the rough edges. I prefer a smooth curve.

Once both ends were rounded, I put the stick on newspaper and sprayed primer on it. After the primer dried, I gave the entire stick a coat of white paint.8



Most herald sticks are just plain white, but I wanted my stick to have my name on it. So I put masking tape on both sides of the stick, to keep the writing neat and even.

This is written in the Elder Futhark runes, and says, “Skald Þórý Veðardóttir”. A skald is a Norse poet and historian, a proclaimer of deeds and a teller of tales.


After I completed this project, I ended up wandering around to campfires in the evenings and reciting Sassafrass’ Futhark Song (and some of their other songs, as well.) I realized it was far more fun and educational to be able to show each rune I was talking about. So I stripped the sealer off of the back of my Herald Stick and painted all twenty-four letters on it. I also included the English equivalents.