I like to draw. Doodling is not really satisfying but there was a time I couldn’t leave the house without a sketch pad and pencil. I don’t do caricatures but sketching and painting are another way to present the worlds of imagination that I live in.
For Redmantle I’ve started putting together a collection of heraldic devices and ensigns to represent the fictional nations (and some that are real) that populate my little Terra Firma. It’s been great fun and of course facilitates research, because for every device there is a why and a history that departs from the world that we live in.
Flags like the Union Flag of England or the Burgundian Cross of New Spain tell a story just by flying and that story is seldom as linear and neat as the historians would have us believe. The flag is a form of national identity and more than just a symbol it is generally a testimony about the composition and allegiance of a people more than a state.
At best these arms and ensigns will be a bit of cover art and components of trademarks relating to the book. They’ll add a bit of color (I prefer to think of it as a double entendre’ rather than a pun) to the pagentry and battles found in the books and probably be forgotten as soon as the page is turned. But I’ve had some fun and the tidbits of alternative historiography are more than useful.
Treat yourself to a bit of historical trivia and look into the origins and applications of armorial bearing and flags in Europe and the Americas. At worst you’ll see some pretty pictures, but maybe you’ll find an intriguing nugget that leads you to your own speculations and a story is born.