Stitched, appliqued or printed flags, what are the options available? – Flag Studio


Designing your flag

The very first thing to do when creating a flag is to decide upon the design.

Clarity of design

To be able to print an image to fabric, that image MUST have a high resolution and be clear to view no matter how large the image is expanded up to without pixelation.  

Pixelation is when an image breaks up into miniscule squares and in layman terms this can be explained by saying that most modern pc/mac monitors have a resolution of about 100 dots per inch, and at 300 dots per inch printed documents have about nine times as many pixels per unit of area as a screen.

Usually high res images are vectorised as this is the best format to translate to print and minimises the risk of pixelation, and so the break down of the clear resolution doesn't show up in the end image.

When it comes down to it - if you have an image that you'd like printed to fabric whether as a flag or bunting or tablecloth, we are able to work on it to make it viable to print - we can at least try! 

So for instance on the left below you will see a low resolution image which is almost pop art and cartoon like in appearance and this would not translate well to fabric.  On the right is the same image redrawn and vectorised - and you will see is a much clearer and crisper and fit for purpose image to print.

Pixelated crest Red Dragon Flagmakers


Vectorised image Red Dragon Flagmakers

Your options

You have several options to consider when it comes to artwork.

Option 1

Supply artwork to us in high res vectorised format as a PDF and we'll scale it to size on a blank flag canvas to fit your requirements - up to 3x amendments FREE of charge.  If you only have a file in JPEG format please make sure it is 300dpi at quarter size and ideally over 12MG.

Option 2

A new design? Send us your ideas, any images and text or photos and we'll mock up your design, then redraw, vectorise and make it fit for purpose - prices start at £36 to do this (payable before we do the work) and you keep the artwork for future use - 1x amendment to the image after redraw/vectorisation included in the price.

Option 3

If you want a flag with text only, we won't charge for the artwork and if you have a specific font or typeface and the colours required (pantone references/hex numbers required - click HERE for more information), send them over to us at the outset and we will include them in the design - up to 3x amendments FREE of charge.

Work in progress

We will always keep you in the loop on the artwork, we email you a watermarked draft for review and amendment as many times as it takes (remember to keep within the cost parameters if you need to keep an eye on cost) until you're satisfied and then we're all set to go to payment and production. 

Clarity of description

Remember to be as descriptive as you can with what you need and we'll do the rest... perhaps use the following list to cut and paste to the email you're sending us if that helps:

  • Size of flag (ie 5x3ft)
  • Single layer (mirror image on reverse) or double layer (two printed layers sewn back to back with an interlining to minimise shadowing)
  • Printed flag or traditional sewn flag? Full or half/half (half/half is when we print 2x badges to taffeta and applique them back to back on a fully sewn base)
  • When you need the flag for, and 
  • the address for invoice and delivery.

We will send you a no obligation quote for you to review.  Please let us know if you decide not to proceed so we don't bother you with a reminder after the first two emails asking if our quote is of interest.

Where to send your artwork

 School flag designed by children by Red Dragon Flagmakers



Remember we're here to help and we try and make the process of making a flag for you as interesting and un-nerdy as possible.  We give no nonsense advice and no obligation quotes and we will do whatever we can to answer all your questions and help you realise your flag.

Ready to send us your flag design and description? Awesome.  Click HERE

We'll get back to you as soon as we can.

More information is readily available on the Flag Institute website - here we list an excerpt from their report on designing a flag:

Vexillographic Best Practice

1. Terminology

1.1. Obverse: in western tradition, this is the side of the flag that you see when the flagpole is on the left - we normally think of it as the flag's front.

1.2. Reverse: this is the opposite side of the flag from the obverse, the side you see when the flagpole is on the right - we normally think of it as the flag's back.

1.3. Ratio: the ratio of the height of a flag to its length - the USA national flag is 10:19, the UK national flag is 3:5. Proportion is another term used to compare height to length.

1.4. Hoist: this is the half of the flag nearest the flagpole.

1.5. Fly: this is the half of the flag furthest from the flagpole; the fly edge is the edge furthest from the flagpole, and the part of a flag most likely to wear away.

1.6. Canton: this is the top-half of the hoist, so the top-left corner when illustrated in western style, with the flagpole on the left - it is the most significant part of the flag.

1.7. Device: this is anything that appears on the flag, from a simple geometric shape, such as a cross or star, to an animal or plant. Also known as a charge.

1.8. Division: this is when the flag is divided into different coloured areas, such as three stripes, or diagonally. Fig 1.

Parts of a Flag 2.

Basics 2.1. When designing a flag remember that it will fly in the wind and is not just a rectangular design on paper - so think what the flag will look like when flying in a brisk breeze and when hanging down on a still day.

2.2. Simplicity is important in creating a design that is easy to recognize and simple to reproduce. Try redrawing the design freehand to see whether an imperfect drawing of the flag can still be easily identified. Also try imagining it at a small size, such as a lapel pin, or when viewed from a distance, when small details will not be obvious.

2.3. A flag needs to be distinctive to stop it being mistaken for another. Compare it to neighbouring and similar flags to check that they are not easily confused. 2

2.4. If you want a flag to remain popular for a long time, it should look as “timeless” as possible, to make it immune to changing fashions. Avoid using features in the design that will cause the flag to become dated or obsolete, eg. a reference to farming could be timeless but depicting a particular style of tractor will date very quickly. Imagine the flag in a historic setting and in a very modern setting to check whether it would work in both.

3. Colour

3.1. Using fewer colours will keep the design simple and bold.

3.2. Contrast is important - use light colours on dark, and vice-versa. So a white cross on red is good contrast, but a blue cross on red would be a poor contrast. This is a very useful guideline, especially for choosing the colour of devices and their background. If the use of non-contrasting colours is unavoidable, make use of outline colours (fimbriation) where, for instance, a dark cross on a dark background is outlined with a light one – an example of this is the flag of the Åland Islands, part of Finland.

3.3. Modern printing techniques have made many more shades available - if there is a specific colour that is connected to an area or organization then that should be considered. It may be useful to match colours to those already used in other national or regional flags. If you wish your flag to be made by traditional applique techniques (ie. sewn together from different pieces of fabric), then bear in mind that the range of colours available in flag fabric is much more limited.

3.4. The edges of a flag need to be defined so that it stands out from its environment. For example the blue Scandinavian cross on Finland’s national flag allows the edges of the flag to be seen even if the sky is full of white clouds. Fig 2. The Flag of the Åland Islands (Left) and the Finnish National Flag (Right)

4. Structure

4.1. The way a flag flies means the hoist is more visible when waving in the wind and hanging at rest, than the fly. The most prominent parts of a flag are in the centre or in the canton. Devices that are placed in the fly of a flag are often obscured when the flag is hanging limply, so this is best avoided.

4.2. As flags are normally wider than they are tall (ie. “landscape”), a design that is taller than it is wide (ie. “portrait”) will tend to look squashed and leave a lot of empty space on each side - so the design will need careful balancing.

4.3. Avoid having a different design on the reverse of the flag as this will undermine recognition and make the flag much more expensive to manufacture.

5. Devices

5.1. A single device should be placed to ensure that it will be seen with the flag in flight or at rest, preferably in the most prominent position. 

5.2. Where more than one device is placed on a flag, different background colours can be used to “anchor” the device within the overall flag design.

5.3. Devices should be graphical representations rather than realistic pictorial depictions (eg. a simplified tree rather than a realistic drawing of a particular tree) so that people unfamiliar with the specific entity represented can still understand what is being referred to (eg. the castle on Edinburgh's city flag is not remotely an accurate representation of Edinburgh Castle). Fig 3. The Castle on the Flag of the City of Edinburgh (Left) and a Photograph of Edinburgh Castle (Right)

5.4. Use of writing on a flag defeats its purpose - one might simply inscribe the name of a country or location on a white sheet and wave it around. In any case it is very difficult to read any writing on a flag when it is flying in the wind, or hanging down, and it appears backwards on the reverse of the flag (unless the flag is made double-sided, greatly increasing the cost and complexity of manufacturing the flag). The challenge is to create a flag that can symbolise an entity and be immediately recognisable without recourse to inscriptions or legends. Parade Banners and Military Colours have a different function and are usually displayed more rigidly and closer up to the observer, allowing for writing to be used.

5.5. Traditionally, the flagpole of a flag is considered the leading edge, so on vehicles the flag is painted with the flagpole at the front, as if the flag is streaming behind it in the wind of the vehicle’s passage. This has led to devices which themselves have a direction being shown moving towards the flagpole. So most animals on flags face to the left on the obverse. In heraldry an animal facing to the right can indicate cowardice, as in running away.

5.6. Seals, coats-of-arms and logos are usually too complex to use as a device on a flag; after all many are designed expressly to be viewed up-close and are difficult to reproduce. It is better to use an element from these devices as a reference to the whole.

6. Symbolism

6.1. The symbols on a flag should be both distinct and representative. Including an emblem that is specific to the locality it represents makes the flag both meaningful and unique.

6.2. A flag should represent the totality of any particular community rather than individual parts of it. Using a device or emblem associated with one specific location within a broader region renders the flag ineffective as a regional representation; but beware of the complexity that can be created by having a device for each part of a community.

6.3. A flag should emphasise its own identity over that of any higher level grouping, otherwise the distinctiveness of each design is lost, as for example in the flags of the former Soviet republics.

6.4. Only include symbolic references to other entities if there is a clear, direct relevance.

6.5. Avoid representing any particular feature in multiple ways; opt instead to make one definitive reference.

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