Section 4: Furs, etc.

By now, you’ve learned about colors and metals, divided charges and fields, and counterchanging. You’ve come quite a long way! But now, we need to briefly cover something that most primers cover back in section 2: Furs.

A fur is a type of tincture that is technically neither metal nor color. However, it must adhere to the same rules of contrast as those you’ve already learned.

The most common type of fur is ermine. It’s the heraldic representation of white ermine fur, with the tips of the ermines’ tails creating a dotted pattern. It looks like this:


There are three variants that have their own names, which I will cover in a bit, but you aren’t limited to just those. In fact, you can put any tincture ermine spot onto any tincture field, provided they don’t break the Rule of Tincture, and call it “X (tincture of the field) ermined Y (tincture of the spots).”

For contrast, ermine and her variants function identically to the tincture of their fields (i.e. ermine works just like argent, gules ermined Or functions just like gules, etc.)

The four standard forms of ermine are ermine, counter-ermine, erminois and pean, which are sable on argent, argent on sable, sable on Or, and Or on sable, respectively. All four, as well as other variants of ermine, can be seen below.

(Argent, ermined Sable)
(Or, ermined Sable)
(Sable, ermined Argent)
(Sable, ermined Or)
Vert, ermined Or
This is metal on color, which is good contrast. This is an acceptable variant of ermine.
Gules, ermined Purpure
DO NOT USE: This is color on color, and not only poor contrast, but painful to look at. This is not an acceptable variant of ermine. 
Or, ermined Purpure
This is color on metal, which is good contrast. This is an acceptable variant of ermine.
Argent, ermined Or
DO NOT USE: This is metal on metal, and terrible contrast. This is not an acceptable variant of ermine. 
Another type of fur is vair. Vair is a representation of squirrel pelts, and looks like this:

Again, there are variants in tincture, which can be blazoned “vairy X and Y (being the two tinctures used).” One of the two tinctures must be a color, and the other must be a metal. Vair and her variants function like a neutral field or charge, because they are split evenly between a metal and a color.

Vairy Or and Gules
Vairy Or, Sable, Argent and Gules
This uses four tinctures, and as none of the colors touch other colors, and none of the metals touch other metals, this is technically considered good heraldic contrast. However, like other variants of vair, it’s also a pain to draw, sew, paint, etc. Given its complexity, I cannot in good conscience recommend this variant of vair.
Vairy Sable and Purpure
DO NOT USE: This is another example of poor contrast. This is an unacceptable variant of vair.
There are other types of furs and field treatments, such as potent, scaly, pappellony, masoned, etc., but they’re less common than ermine and vair, and difficult to reproduce, which runs counter to the goals of this tutorial. If you’re interested, there are numerous other primers which cover these field treatments. Besides, we’ve got more ground to cover, and I promised you I’d leave tinctures alone after this section.

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