Making and Mounting Flags

Flag Materials
Flag Art
Construction Tips
See also the Commercial Flags Index


Scott Nicholas (

I've started using "metal foil" adhesive tape borrowed from the metal fabrication dept. at work. Cut to size, the tape folds neatly around spears, and is thick enough to resist knocks. You would probably find it in most specialist hardware and plumbing shops.

Allan Wright (

I have found that lead foil makes good flag material. If you paint a flag in one session, you can do it on the foil while flat, then bend the completed flag without risking cracking of the paint. The fresh paint seems to retain some bit of flexibility for a few hours. If the foil you use is thick enough the flags seem to hold up fine.

Two sources for lead foil are wine bottles and toothpaste tubes. Most Champagne bottles have thin lead foil around the corks, suitable for 15mm flags. The old style toothpaste tubes have lead foil in between 2 layers of plastic. Dipping these in some paint stripper will remove the plastic. (More environmentally aware people may apply elbow grease and a brass toothbrush to remove the plastic coating.)

I've found that using a layer of wine bottle foil in between the folded commercial flags (like Revo) helps them hold a bend.

T. Viljanen (

I discovered a nice medium from which it is easy to make realistic looking flags, standards, banners, gonfalons and other insignia: Receipt paper.

Yes, those cash receipts, which are received every time when you do shopping, can easily be recycled into flags! The paper used is thin, light and soft, yet sturdy, and it is easy to paint. It wraps neatly around the intended flag-poles (pikes, lances, spears etc), and if bent while glue still wet, it can be flexed into nicely flowing forms!

I used that method first time with my Almohades, and they made really nice flags, especially with Arabic writings and symbols on them!

Philip M. Hall (

I have found that I can use tracing paper to make flags. If you are trying to create a particularly difficult design in a certain scale you can, if you have a picture of the design, take it to your local copy shop and have it reduced to the size you need and then trace it on the paper. You can then paint it using inks or acrylics. I usually only do one side and then turn it over and use the design to do the other side. I then fold it around the flag pole and coat it with thinned white glue and fold it into a wind blown look. The white glue leaves it looking like a silk material.

Bruce (

Be careful with masking tape, there are a lot of different kinds. Some get brittle and simply disintergrate with age, and others loose their stickiness.

Bill Lee (

I now make my flags using a Macintosh computer, Photoshop and a colour inkjet printer. I create a flag many times the normal size (or scan in pictures of flags), then usually redo all the colours and touch up the rest. I then reduce the final image during the printing process to get a wrap-around-the-flagpole flag.

As far as the printing, the best colours are the primary colours: red, blue, yellow and black [OK, black isn't a colour...]. If you use cyan, magenta, yellow inks in very high saturation, you can get bleeding of the colours on the paper which ruins the fine detail you took hours to put in there. I was using a 360dpi colour inkjet printer with high quality Tectronix plotting paper, but the best setup requires some experimentation with various combinations of paper and colours. Colours that use a small percentage of a dark ink can end up looking like spotty areas of colour, depending on how the dithering is done.

Before I cut out the flag, I fix the image (the ink is not completely waterfast) by painting the paper with a clear satin enamel (because that's what I had at the time). The paper turns somewhat transparent at this stage, but the end result looks good and opaque. I left the flag for some hours to dry thoroughly.

Cut out the flag slightly larger than the final size, except for the part of the flag that wraps around the pole: which is made the final size. Pre-crease the middle of the paper, between the two sides of the flag, to make it easier to mould around the pole. This can be done by rolling the flag around a small diameter rod (eg. the flagpole), sort of like rolling a cigarette. This breaks up the enamel-stiffened grain of the paper in this region.

Gluing the Flag

Put about two drops of each part of the 5-minute epoxy (a little bit goes a long way) on a small piece of cardboard and mix thoroughly with a toothpick , smear one half of the flag with the mixed epoxy (very thinly, and over the entire half of the flag), then press the two halves of the flag together around the flagpole. Line up the two halves by holding the flag up to a light so that you can see the edges line up, then fix the flag in position with a spring laundry peg pressing on two small flat pieces of plastic, with the pole left out of the sandwich. This forces both halves of the flag together, right up to the pole, while the glue cures.

After waiting about 10 minutes for the glue to cure, cut the flag to the correct size with a pair of scissors. By doing this now, you ensure that the edges are pressed together well and they line up perfectly on both sides without overlap. It also takes care of any bead of epoxy that may have been squeezed out from between the two halves of the flag if you have put more than the merest smear on the flag when gluing.

If you leave the flag for a few more minutes, you can then mould it to a suitably wind-swept shape. The flag is slightly springy at this stage, but after a couple of days becomes very springy and set in its shape. It is then quite durable.

Mounting the Flag

Place the flag in the holes in the figures hands. You can glue (5-minute epoxy again!) the flag into place. The stability of the flag is enhanced by having two places where the flag is glued: either two hands, one hand and the figure base, or one hand and the body of the figure.


Scott E. Violette (

A dry pencil or the standard colored pencil are especially handy when coloring standards. I make my own standards in a drawing program, and then color using pencils and watercolors. The colored pencils may be blended. The waterproof ones I use for the details on the standard, and then wash the watercolor over the top. If y'all have any questions just ax.


Bill Lee (

With pewter/lead models, I usually replace the lead/pewter flagpoles with piano wire to avoid "flag bearer's droop" and to minimise the impression that the figures are trying to toss a Scottish caber, rather than carry a flag.

Existing pewter/lead flagpoles are cut off above and below the model hands holding it. You have to be very careful with a Stanley knife: don't cut yourself, the blood is hard to get out of the carpet. Cut into a piece of softwood, rather than fingers or the family walnut dining table. You might need to use small files, especially if the flagpole is moulded on to the figure body. I then use a pin vise with a 1/32" drill to drill out the hands. You can buy these drills from electronic kit stores (as part of circuit board construction materials), or from hobby stores.

Flagpoles are made from straight lengths of piano wire (sold in good model/hobby shops). If you use coiled spring wire, you will never get it straight again. 1/32" wire is good for 25mm figures (scales to 2 3/8" diameter flagpoles), but whatever seems in scale. If you have flagpoles that need crossbars, then use straight brass wire and carefully solder the crossbar onto the flagpole. Using office staples, staple the poles on to a piece of softwood to hold everything steady until it is properly soldered. You will have to use piano-wire cutters to cut the wire if you don't have a Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel. Otherwise, use brass wire. I have broken a normal pair of pliers trying to cut spring wire in the wire cutting notches at the side of the pliers. Steel spring wire will notch the normal wire cutting jaws inside the jaws - it won't cut unless you have the right tools.

Make better tips to the poles by using the cut-off grinding tool of a Dremel tool to make points. Spear points can be ground on the pole (watch out for the "needle-stick injuries and wear safety glass when grinding) by holding the Dremel tool steady and applying the wire to the tool. Add broad tips to the poles by dipping the tips into 5-minute epoxy, placing down on a piece of slick plastic and leaving to harden. Carefully scrape epoxy and wire off the slick plastic to get your rough pole tip. Grind the tips to shape after the epoxy is well cured. Wierd shapes at the end can be constructed out of two part epoxy putty and the wire inserted into the prepared putty. Grinding suitable keying surfaces on the wire will help adhesion of the putty. Greasy wire or fingers make it much harder to get a good bond.


Bruce Ferguson (

I cut out a piece of paper to double the size I want, i.e., it's the size I want when I have folded it in half. I then paint the design on the outside. I coat the insides with PVA glue, then wrap the flag around the flagpole, cleverly contorting it so it appears to be flapping in the wind. When the PVA dries the flag is rock hard. Usually the edges need a bit of a paint touch up.

Gareth Evans (

I apply flags last, after painting the whole of the rest of the figure.

I use thin coated (i.e., not cartridge) paper - the stuff for photocopiers is OK. I then carefully measure the pole which will be used to carry the flag to work out the height the flag should be, and from this the width of the fly. Assuming this looks like the right scale, I add some extra to wrap around the pole. I would then cut out a dummy to these dimensions and hold it in place to check my measurements.

When I am satisfied with the dimensions, I use a fine black fibre pen and draw out the outline of the main features onto the paper, on both sides. When this is done, I attach the flag to the awaiting figure's flagstaff. I first curl the paper where it goes round the staff (this really does make a difference!) and then superglue the lead edge to the staff. When this is firmly secured, I pull the flag around the pole as tightly as I can without bending or breaking the pole, having put a bit more glue on the remaining exposed pole.

Now the flag is in place, I put a few gentle furls into the paper to give the impression that it is fluttering in the wind. I like to be able to see the flag, but don't like them rigid.

After this, I then start to fill in the colours. I use 2 shades of each colour - a main colour which I use to block in the main area, and a lighter shade which I use sparingly on the highlight areas (i.e., the top of a fold, and down the part of the flag wrapped round the pole).

If there is fine detail in the design or writing, I add these in freehand now. For gold ornaments, I would first paint that part in a dark brown, and then paint over the top in gold, leaving a thin brown border.

My technique really sounds complicated, but it isn't in reality.

I have just finished the Regimental flag for a SYW battalion, which required some small gold fleurs de lis and the words par decori virtus written in a gap 4mm wide at its narrowest, and I am very pleased with the results.

Last Updates
5 October 1997added many new tips
21 September 1997construction tips added
20 January 1997new email for Bill Lee
26 April 1996reformatted
5 May 1995Scott Violette's comments
Comments or corrections?