Please note that Lochac now allows both colour-printed and fully electronic submissions, however the information below holds true for those who prefer to work by hand.

Heralds recommend Crayola Classic and Crayola Washable markers for all your colouring-in heraldic purposes. Ever wondered why? It’s not because the College of Heralds gets a kickback from the Crayola corporation (although – note to Crux Exchequer: look into that as a fundraising possibility for next financial year).  Here’s Lady Teceangl Bach of An Tir to talk about her analysis of SCA heraldic artwork and its longevity:

To test your own markers:

Make four test sheets using ther same paper you print submissions forms on.  Use both big expanses of color and a few finer lines. Date them in pencil or ballpoint ink (not fiber tip, not gel, ballpoint).

  1. Put one in a file folder or tucked into one of your heraldry books.
  2. Jam one into your backpack or briefcase, wherever it’ll go with you everywhere.
  3. Put one in your car or a sunny window where it’ll fade.
  4. Pin, tack or staple one to the outside of your house, where it’ll get rained on.

In two weeks, bring them together and compare.  Then put them back. Compare after three months, six months, and one year.

The one in your backpack will be wrinkled and perhaps torn, but the colors ought to match the one you filed in the folder or book, or come very close.

The one in the sun will be faded.

The one outdoors will be thrashed.

Numbers 1 & 2 will tell you how well the colors last. Number 4 will tell you what’ll happen to submissions dropped in a puddle or thrown out the window of a moving truck or plane. 🙂 Number 3 is valuable, as it’ll give you an idea of how the ink handles heat, cold and light (it’s an extreme version of mailing stuff to the USA and Europe, across countries with wildly different climates).

After two weeks you’ll have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. After three months you should have a pretty good final result. After six, approximate time between submission and registration, you’ll know for sure what not to use. After one year you’ll have a good idea what’ll survive in the Laurel and kingdom files.

She summarises her own research thus:

For this reason, we ask people to use Crayola or Roseart markers — if we need to look at your paperwork for a conflict a few years down the road and the colors don’t match the blazon, we change the blazon (because we assume the mistake is in the description, not the coloring).

Or use Colorific, Color Gear, Scholastic, Colorations, e-color-gy, Pentel, Prang, Dixon, Sargent Art, Color Club, Mr.Sketch, Foohy, Faber-Castell, Color View, Ultra Color, Western Family, Star Wars by Animations, and Cars by SandyLion (both co-branded packs available in department stores and dollar stores). Of Crayola the good ones are Classic, Doodling and Click-Ons.

All those have true heraldic colors and good staying power.

Stay AWAY from: Bic Magic Markers, Sharpie bullet tips, Marvy, Busykids, Disney by National Design, Princess by SandyLion, Bic Mark-It, Pentech, Color Theory, Crayola Twistables, and Crayola Flip-Top.

Pens in this category either had colors that blurred the line between tinctures or lacked the ability to survive one year under normal handling conditions. One brand simply dried up in the box in a week, and so did its replacement set.  Yes, two Crayola sets hit the ‘bad idea’ list. Their colors are not true and can cause confusion between tinctures.

If you want more of Lady Teceangl’s extensive testing, here’s a more in-depth summary.


Author: Teceangl Bach. Updated: 15 June 2009 (AS XLIV)