Sunday, April 17, 2016

Vectorizing Flags

The Europa Universalis IV wiki had a contest running for the last two weeks to help get things updated after the new 1.16 patch, but along with all the needed text was a request for higher-resolution versions of a whole bunch of country flags which previously existed only as tiny 192x128 pixel images. I figured it'd be a fun chance to brush up on my Inkscape skills, so I vectorized a number of flags and created higher-resolution versions. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, so I thought I'd share some of the more interesting ones. These aren't actually the vector images themselves, just PNGs, as SVG images often still don't play well with some web browsers.

Berar is a small Indian nation that doesn't exist at the start of the game in 1444, but can appear later on. This one was a fun exercise in tracing the entire outer shape, followed by removing the cutouts using the difference operation on a series of paths with the main one. (A path in Inkscape is essentially any arbitrarily shaped object defined by a series of vertices and spline curves between them such that they define either a curve or an area. They can have a large variety of mathematical Boolean operations such as union, difference, intersection, exclusion, etc. applied to them. This lets you build up a path from a collection of smaller paths, or, as in this case, punch out a bunch of holes in a large path.)

Caddo is a North American nation from the Mississippi region. Of course, whether they ever actually had a flag like this questionable; all nations in EU IV require a flag for identification, but given that it covers the whole world from 1444 to 1821 there are a lot of little nations that likely never had an official flag, so Paradox Interactive has to come up with something based on…I don't know, really, presumably important symbols in that nation's history and the like. Anyway, regardless of its historical veracity, I like the geometric shapes on this one.

Kazembe is a small nation in the interior of Africa, one of the new nations added in the 1.16 patch in fact. This one was a massive amount of fun to trace for some reason despite (or maybe because of?) the slight asymmetries present throughout the entire thing.

Quito is a small nation in the Andes, in modern-day Ecuador (and lending its name to Ecuador's capital). This is another nice set of geometric shapes (I did tend to pick ones that would fairly quick to do, rather than ones having complicated images).

Riga is a tiny nation on the Baltic Sea in 1444, now the capital of modern-day Latvia. That staff on the right took a lot of time trying to replicate all the little bumps in the original image (and having to guess a lot, given the tiny resolution). Most of the bumps are actually small circles added to the path of the staff.

Sioux is a nation in the Great Plains region of North America, with some cool geometrical shapes. Getting the rotation and placement of the tipi shapes around the edge was an interesting challenge. (Also, go read the article on tipis on Wikipedia, it's pretty interesting.)

Tarascan is a Mesoamerican nation towards the western edge of the region, and historically one of the largest rivals of the Aztecs. Similar to the Berar flag, this is just a large circle (with a radial gradient) with a whole bunch of shapes punched out of it.

Tyo is another of the new Central African nation added in the 1.16 patch. This was a great chance to use a clipping mask; each of the little half-circle shapes is actually part of a full, nearly-circular ellipse, with a copy of the brown background circle serving as a clipping mask so you only see the parts of them inside the circle. This one was quite fun to do.

Yaka is the third new Central African nation here (being new, they didn't have high-resolution flags so there were several to do). This was a pretty simple case of vector tracing.

Finally, here's the flag of Kutai, a small nation on the eastern shores of Borneo. This one took a lot longer than the others (which typically took less than twenty minutes) due to the amount of detail present:

I did this one because I really liked the original flag, and once played a game as Kutai partly because of that. By the way, here's the original file I was working from (I'm not sure why the tiger's tongue is orange):

Yep, that's the actual size. (Same for all of the other flags, of course.) While most of it wasn't too difficult to vectorize (just time-consuming), I couldn't really recover any detail from that crown thing, so I kind of made something up based on what I thought it was supposed to look like.

All in all, a fun little project, and it's been fun to get back to working with vector images again. A hui hou!


  1. That is pretty cool! Your Kutai flag looks dead-on.

  2. Thanks! I spent a lot more time on it than the others, probably about two hours or so. I just really like the look of that skinny tiger.:)
    The crown especially took a lot of time tweaking and playing with gradients to get something that looked like what I thought the original was trying to show.


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