Saturday, July 31, 2010

The United States Navy (USN) Seal

The United States Navy (USN) is the sea branch of the United States armed forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which was established during the American Revolutionary War and was essentially disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter.

History: The first American Navy seal was approved by the Continental Congress in 1780. Since then, the seal underwent numerous changes. Recommendations from Secretaries of the Navy, heraldic experts, and historians resulted in this final seal design approved by President Eisenhower in 1957.

Description: On a circular background of fair sky and moderate sea with land in sinister base, a three-masted square-rigged ship underway before a fair breeze with after topsail furled, commission pennant atop the foremast, National Ensign atop the main, and the commodore's flag atop the mizzen. In front of the ship a Luce-type anchor inclined slightly bendwise with the crown resting on the land and, in front of the shank and in back of the dexter fluke, an American bald eagle rising to sinister regarding to dexter, one foot on the ground, the other resting on the anchor near the shank; all in proper colors. The whole within a blue annulet bearing the inscrip tion "Department of the Navy" at top, and "United States of America" at the bottom, separated on each side by a mullet and within a rim in the form of a rope; inscription, rope, mullet, and edges of annulet all gold. Land in the design would symbolize the Navy's supporting shore facilities as well as the fleet's amphibious strike capabilities. Since the wording "Navy Department," used on earlier seals, had generally come to signify only the
headquarters activities in Washington, the inscription was changed to "Department of the Navy" in order to embrace the Navy's total world-wide operations afloat, in the air, and ashore.
Above Information Provided by the Navy Historical Center and The Institute of Heraldry

About the C.7 “US Navy Seal” design: The design has been recreated in vector form in Adobe Illustrator CS4. Afterwards, it has been digitally enhanced in Photoshop CS4. Once again, my unique layered process was used. The main goal of my “Military Insignia” projects, was to highlight beauty of the design, without

altering the official version of the seal. As always, I tried to achieve a nice 3D effect, by utilizing unobtrusive drop-shadows. I also emphasized textures of several woods, as well as anchor metals and flag silks. And, of course, some nice gold and enamels didn’t hurt.

In this case two variations of the seal were produced – the full version, and stylized simplified (non-official) version of the seal. The full version of the design can be found in my SpreadShirt "Military Insignia 3D" gallery, and both versions can be found in my Zazzle “Military Insignia” gallery here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

United States Air Force Seal

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial warfare, space warfare, and cyber-warfare service branch of the United States armed forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military in 1947. It is the most recent branch of the U.S. military to be formed.

Description: The predominant colors, gold and ultramarine blue, are the Air Force's colors as carried down from the Air Corps. The thirteen stars signify the original states, and the bald eagle is the symbol of the

United States and of air striking power. The shield is divided by a nebula line formation, representing clouds, and the heraldic thunderbolt portrays
striking power in the medium of air.
History: Prior to enactment of the National Security Act of 26 July 1947, Mr. Arthur E. DuBois of the Military Planning Division, Office the Quartermaster General, Department of the Army, prepared a study of flags and seals for consideration by the three services.
These drawings were first reviewed by Army officials in the office of the Director of Personnel and Administration, then by Naval personnel in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air, which also arranged to have the drawings reviewed by the Secretary of Defense.
In September 1947, proposed drawings of the Air Force Seal were first exhibited in the office of the Secretary of the Air Force. Later, a conference of approximately 30 top-ranking Air Force general officers considered the preferred one. The participants evaluated an Air Force seal with a green-colored background; it featured prominently at the honor point of the shield a Wright Brothers' airplane. This Seal has been prepared by the Heraldic Section of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Department of the Army, in coordination with Mr. Robert E. Ewin, Chief of the Air Force Uniform and Insignia Section. After
review, conference participants decided that the background of the Department of the Air Force Seal should be blue rather than green, and that a symbolic design should be substituted in place of the Wright Brothers' airplane. During these discussions, Mr. Dubois picked up the design and on its reverse side made a pencil sketch of Jupiter's thunderbolt as a suggested symbol. When the Air Force representatives saw the pencil sketch and understood its significance, they agreed to adopt that design as the basic symbol for the Air Force Seal instead of the Wright Brothers' airplane. The words "Department of the Air Force" that appear around the upper rim of the Seal were drawn from the words of the National Security Act.
The final drawing of the Department of the Air Force Seal was completed in the Office of the Quartermaster General, Department of the Army, and approved by
Harry S. Truman, President of the United States, on 1 November 1947.
Symbolism: The symbolism incorporated in the Great seal of the Department of the Air Force is as follows:
1. The predominant colors, ultramarine blue and gold, are the colors of the Air Force through transition from the Air Corps.
2. The 13 stars represent the Thirteen Original Colonies of the United States. The grouping of three stars at the top of the design portrays the three Departments of the National Defense Establishment, Army, Navy, and Air Force.
3. The crest includes the American Bald Eagle, which is the symbol of the United States and air striking power.
The cloud formation depicts the creation of a new firmament, and the wreath, composed of six alternate folds of silver and blue, incorporate the colors of the
basic shield design.
4. The shield, divided with the nebuly line formation, representing clouds, is charged with the heraldic thunderbolt. The thunderbolt portrays striking power through the medium of air.
5. The Roman numerals beneath the shield indicate the year 1947, in which the Department of the Air Force was established.
6. On a band encircling the whole is the inscription "Department of the Air Force" and "United States of America".
The entire design used on the shield of the Air Force Seal is taken from an heraldic representation of the mythological thunderbolt, also termed Jupiter's thunderbolt,. Jupiter was the Roman mythological God of the Heavens. At the honor point of the shield is a lightning bolt or elongated projectile-like mass, conceived of as the missile cast
to earth in the lightning flash. The word thunderbolt--a single discharge of lightning with the accompanying thunder--derived from the idea that lightning was a bolt thrown to earth by a god. The pair of wings and smaller lightning flashes surrounding the bolt complete the design.
The eagle's head is turned to the right and symbolizes facing the enemy--looking toward the future and not dwelling on past deeds.
Above Information Provided by the Air Force History Office

About the C.7 “US Air Force Seal” design: The design has been recreated in vector form in Adobe Illustrator CS4. After
that, it has been imported in Photoshop and meticulously enhanced using my signature multi-layered process. As with any of my “Military Insignia” projects, the idea was to bring out the beauty of the design, and turn it into a realistically looking masterpiece. It took me two days to complte. Two variations of the seal were created – the full version, and stylized light (non-official) version of the seal. The main design can be found in my SpreadShirt "Military Insignia 3D" gallery, and both versions can be found in my Zazzle Military Insigniagallery here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The United States Army Seal

The United States Army is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military responsible for land-based military operations. The primary mission of the Army is to "provide necessary forces and capabilities ... in support of the National Security and Defense Strategies.

Background: The traditional seal used during and since the Revolution was redesignated as the Seal of the Department of the Army by the National Security Act of 1947. The Department of the Army seal is authorized by Section 3011, Title 10, United States Code.

Description: In the center is a Roman cuirass below a vertical unsheathed sword, point up, the pommel resting on the neck opening of the cuirass and a Phrygian cap supported on the sword point, all between on the right an esponton and on the left a musket with fixed bayonet crossed in saltire behind the cuirass and passing under the sword guard. To the right of the cuirass and esponton is a flag of unidentified designs with cords and tassels, on a flagstaff with spearhead, above a cannon barrel, the muzzle end slanting upward behind the cuirass, in front of the drum, with two drumsticks and the fly end of the flag draped over the drumhead; below, but partly in front of the cannon barrel, is a pile of three cannon balls. To the left of the cuirass and musket is a national color of the Revolutionary War period, with cords and tassels, on a flagstaff with spearhead, similarly arranged above a mortar on a carriage, the mortar facing inward and in front of the lower portion of the color and obscuring the lower part of it; below the mortar are two bomb shells placed side by side. Centered above the Phrygian cap is a rattlesnake holding in its mouth a scroll inscribed "This We’ll Defend."
Symbolism: The central element, the Roman cuirass, is a symbol of strength and defense. The sword, esponton (a type of half-pike formerly used by subordinate officers), musket, bayonet, cannon, cannon balls, mortar, and mortar bombs are representative of Army implements. The drum and drumsticks are symbols of public notification of the Army’s purpose and intent to serve the Nation and its people. The Phrygian cap (often called the Cap of Liberty) supported on the point of an unsheathed sword and the motto "This We’ll Defend" on a scroll held by the rattlesnake is a symbol depicted on some American colonial flags and signifies the Army’s constant readiness to defend and preserve the United States.
Information Provided by The Institute of Heraldry

About the C.7 “US Army Seal” design: The design has been recreated in vector form in Adobe Illustrator CS4, and after that, it has been digitally enhanced using my unique multi-layered process in Adobe Photoshop CS4. Usually it takes anywhere from 1 to 3 days to complete a design of such complexity. 

Update [July 19th, 2011]: The United States Army Seal story didn't end here. Almost a year after my first edition of the design, I was flexing muscles of my Adobe Photoshop CS5, and managed to come with a new "bronze" edition of the seal, which I am happy to present here, in the original post. 

As always, the above insignia are available on a limited number of selected high quality products via my “Military Insignia” galleries exclusively from You can just follow the links in the article to get to the corresponding galleries.

I will also make my insignia designs available free of charge to any military units and personnel to be used for non-profit/non-commercial and charitable causes, benefiting troops and their families, as well as for non-commercial internal units’ duty-specific purposes, such as unit website design, training materials and presentations, as I have already done on a number of occasions.


Have you ever thought of military heraldry as a form of art? Have you ever had a feeling that these precise and striking images are not fully understood and somewhat underappreciated? Have you ever wondered, what were the origins and history behind military emblems and symbols? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then this blog might be for you.

I have always been interested in heraldry. There is something mysterious and at the same time precise and certain about these compact and informative images. And definitely a lot of history- layers upon layers of it. While working on one of my large projects, called “The Small World”, recreating graphically enhanced historical and modern coats of arms of world countries, I noticed something. Heraldry or certain countries was seriously underrepresented. The coats of arms available in media and retail were of poor quality, with very few products or souvenirs available on the market.

Being ex-military myself, the next logical step for me was to research the situation with military heraldry. The result was even more discouraging. You will not be able to find any of the high-resolution quality military insignia designs for many of the active branches and units of US and Canadian armed forces, not even mentioning the great numbers of deactivated and historical ones . This is how project “Military Insignia” came to life.

The basis of the project is my
Military Insignia gallery at The plan is to recreate the largest collection of high quality military insignia under one roof. At the same time, there will be an opportunity to choose any of my designs, and create a custom product featuring the chosen design. Zazzle is offering variety of custom apparel, framed prints, posters, accessories, gifts, souvenirs, stationary, custom postage and more. Finally, those underrepresented military insignias will become available for the public in a wide variety of forms.

I will be using my unique technique, I call Multi-Layer Enhancement & Texturing Technique (or M-LETT 2.5D; I discuss it in detail in this post), recreating branch insignia, regimental coats of arms, shoulder sleeve insignia, emblems, badges and patches of all branches and majority of units of US and Canadian armed forces. My main tools of the trade will be Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. The result will be astonishing realistic images, enhanced with textures of metals, enamels, precious stones, rare woods and ivory, at the same time retaining all the proper colors and attributes of the insignia. Also, all images will be eventually available in a form of large high-resolution framed prints in various sizes of up to 35”X35” .

I will be posting my latest designs on this blog, along with brief descriptions and interesting facts about particular units and their insignia. I would also encourage any feedback, as well as design-specific requests and custom orders. This is indeed a project of a grand magnitude, which will take years to complete. So, my friends, you are all welcome to join me on my journey!
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