Making an American Flag using Adobe Illustrator

I’ve been taking a little time off of work since I’ve been actually pretty productive with ship modeling and other personal tasks. So, today, I finally decided to tackle the issue to making a flag for the American Gunboat model that I’ve been working on.

My Amati American gunboat model, nearly finished, but in need of a flag

The Amati kit includes a flag, but it doesn’t look like anything I’d seen before, with 13 stripes and 17 stars. The only flag I was really aware of from the War was the type that flew over Fort McHenry during the British bombardment and was the inspiration for our national anthem. That one was 15 stars and 15 stripes, but the Amati kit flag had me second guessing things as I realized that, after all, the U.S. at that time had more than 15 states.

The flag included in the Amati kit.I wasn’t really sure of the exact details of naval flags of the War of 1812, so I went onto to ask about it. The help I got there convinced me that my original thinking was correct, and that the 15-stars and 15 stripes flag was the official flag during the war. So, I’m ignoring the kit’s flag. I considered just buying a ready-made flag of the proper size, but given my experience and access to Adobe Illustrator software, I figured that I should make my own.

My original thought was to try to paint a flag using templates cut on my vinyl cutter and designed using Adobe Illustrator, which I could then import into the vinyl cutter’s design and control software. It’s still something I’d eventually like to try doing. But, given that I’m just doing this for a simple kit model, it seemed like overkill. Anyway, I’d still have my work cut out for me just designing the flag art.

I put off the Illustrator work for a week or two. Then, today, I finally got up the inspiration to get to work on it. Turns out that it only took me a short time to create the artwork – probably less than an hour. The hardest part was trying to remember how to use the star tool, which allows one to make stars quite easily. Note how the stars also had to be rotated alternately from row to row. Again, something that’s quite easy to do using Illustrator.

I was still thinking about creating painting masks when I was working on the artwork, but then settled on printing it and a reverse image on the thinner printer paper I had on hand, which I then printed using my Canon color inkjet printer.

I folded the artwork in half, glued it together with 3M Super 77 spray adhesive, placing a piece of line in the crease of the fold. I then added the waves in the flag by simply bending the flag around the round handle of a small paint brush, creating each wave. The photo above is from my first wave making work. Afterwards, I continued working on the waves to make them more profound.

I’ll mount the flag and finish off the rigging of the model shortly and post the final results.


1 thought on “Making an American Flag using Adobe Illustrator

  1. agesofsail

    Reblogged this on Ages of Sail and commented:
    We don’t expect everyone to have access to the software to be able to do this. But, this is one way to make your own flag.

    Of course, if you don’t have the software, you should be able to download an appropriate image on the Internet and print it on your color printer.


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