Crowning Glory

Crowning Glory

Hand painted cast of a crest

Having worked together with the NCA (National Crime Agency) in all its iterations for over 20 years, it was rewarding when the agency called upon us to help break with tradition, and implement a modern rendition of their coat of arms: a custom 3D crest.

Lee, senior manager in charge of Estates Projects, originally asked us to recreate the organisation’s black and white logo for their reception area. However, we agreed shifting focus onto their statement piece – their crown badge – and they saw the value in this concept.

The first ever design of the crest was of course a heraldic artwork, fashioned solely for reproduction on parchment headers. Using this as a basis, our designers worked together with a top lettering artist to scale up and vectorise a graphic suitable for today’s digital applications.

The aesthetic elegance of each of the crest’s segments proved perfect for elevating into a 3D masterpiece, and culminated in a much more craft focused brief for the reception sign.

With the heritage skills involved, we called in the cavalry – sculptor, Tom Young and castmaker, Jak Blackman, and put our heads together. The team set about figuring out how to breathe life into (and allocate new dimensions of depth) to artwork that had only lived a flat existence till now…

Over the course of our discussions, the brief grew and the NCA eventually decided on four 3D replicas of the crown badge for placement across various regional offices.

The project began in earnest with Tom and Jak first modelling each element of the crest in London Clay – the griffin, the panther, and the crown. These sculptures were then used to take silicone moulds, which would act as a template and later allow us to create copies for all of the locations. The replicas were built up out of sheets of fibreglass, stuck down into a gel coat and woven into a mat, then hardened by resin to make extremely strong casts of the original – a delicate task that took months to complete.

Sizes were decided in proportion to the first crest’s final destination – a reception wall some 5.8m wide by 3m tall at the NCA HQ in Vauxhall. When pieced together, the new 3D crests would measure 2m wide and stand 1.5m tall and proud.

That of course led us on to the mammoth task of gilding parts of the crests in 24 carat gold and painting them in their entirety – done to a level of detail and attention that saw finishing touches being carried out on location at installation.

Staying true to the essence of the early design, which used opaque gouache paints, we decided to apply vibrant layers of flat colour – creating a brilliant and bold body of work that the NCA offices now aptly wear like a badge of honour.

They aren’t the only ones – a collaborative labour of love, this project has to be one of our favourites and we’re proud to add it to our portfolio. From workshop to wall, check out the creative process of this custom 3D  crest and final result in our video on this page.