05 July 2014

Tutorial: Design your own Japanese-style crest

I love the Japanese symbolism in Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s art, which I talked about yesterday, and something I particularly like at Glasgow School of Art are the Japanese-style crests on poles at the front of the building, which are based on birds and insects.

Today I’m going to show you how I designed my own crest in a Japanese style, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages!

1. Look at Japanese family crests (known as mon) for inspiration
They are usually either black on a white background, or white on a black background.
They tend to be circular, or within a circle, and they sometimes have 3-fold or 5-fold symmetry.
They are simplified and stylized versions of what they represent.
They usually feature things from the natural world, like flowers, leaves or birds

2. Gather your own ideas
Think of things that represent your personality, your hobbies, or your interests.

3. Draw your ideas
Get out a sketchbook and draw a lot of circles. Fill these circles with drawings of the ideas you thought of in the last step. Try lots of ideas to see what works best. Think about what areas of your design will be white and which will be black.

4. Make a neat drawing of your best idea. When you’ve decided which of your sketches works best, make a good copy of it, filling in all the areas that you want to be black.

Now that you’ve designed your crest, you could make a stencil of it, or make an eraser stamp of it. To make an eraser stamp, trace the design and transfer it to an eraser and carve it out. If you want to make a stencil, you will need to make sure that all your areas of one colour are touching, or the stencil will fall apart! Now you can use your crest time and time again on your correspondence or to personalise your belongings!As well as making an eraser stamp, I imported my design drawing into Photoshop and tidied it up a bit to make a digital file of my crest.

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