Flag Design (from sketch to vector) | Tim Eggert | Skillshare

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Flag Design (from sketch to vector)

teacher avatar Tim Eggert, Freelance Designer/Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Intro to Flag Design


    • 3.

      Game: Good Flag, Bad Flag


    • 4.

      Class Project: Sketching Your Flag


    • 5.

      Class Project: Vectorizing Your Flag


    • 6.



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About This Class

In this class we will cover the basics of flag design. This class is for anyone who has an interest in flag design or in design in general. We will cover what makes a good flag and the rules of flag design. This class will teach you how to use meaningful symbols and basic colors to tell a story. The lessons we learn about flags can be used in everyday life.

Meet Your Teacher

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Tim Eggert

Freelance Designer/Illustrator

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Welcome to flag designs from Sketch to Vector. Hi, my name is Tim Eggar, and last year I designed the flag for the City of Orlando. After designing the flag, it's popped up in a bunch of places, which is very cool to see and has inspired me to teach this new class. So this class is a design class where, through flag design, we learn about taking an idea and making into a final project. So our class project will be designing a flag that's either based on a family country, a city or even a company, and we'll learn the design fundamentals through that process. So what you need for this class is pretty simple. You need paper and pencil if you want to sketch it out or photo shop, and then you need illustrator to create your final vector flight design. So if you want to learn the basics of design or anything about fly designed, this course is for you. Let's get started 2. Intro to Flag Design: we'll start with an intro into a flag design. The study of flags is called Vex Salalah. Gee, vessel ology is basically the Latin word vessel, Um, meaning banner flag and the Greek suffix ology, which is study now. Go on to the parts of a flag just briefly. So the left side is called a hoist and then in the middle. And what you see throughout the flag in the main area, the flight that's called the field and then the bottom and top with of the flag is called the fly, and then the right side of the flag is called the fly end. So someone who studies a flag is called avec Salalah gist. And then there's actually people who study them, get paid to be professors and flight design, and they even have a group that's the North American Vex, a logical association. So this group Napa has gotten together, and they published a few years ago. A pamphlet would just called Good flag, bad flag, and it basically goes over what makes a good flag and what makes back according to design. And it's a PDF online, and it's it's fun to read. It's really brief and it's it. It's good. So in it are five rules of flag design, which we will cover now. And I will kind of give comments on each rule and apply it towards designing a flag so we'll just get started. Rule number one is Keep it simple. What I like about flags that that is, that you can tell a story basically through just a couple of shapes and just some basic imagery, and that's very cool. The problem that gets into that, especially if you look at like world flags, is that when you look at all the world flags, some of them basically looked the same except for the colors on them. You know, three vertical stripes down the middle, but I think that's fine. But I think when it comes to the city flags, sometimes when one is created and another one is similar people, you will get a kind of upset about it. But what you got to realize is that you're using circles, stripes, basic visual elements to tell a story, and of course there's gonna be similarities. But that's what I like about the simplistic nature of flags and what will really cover. When we start designing here, you can you can tell a whole story about a complex city through two colors, and I think it's very interesting. The second rule is use meaningful symbolism, so I'll give you a little background. The design contest for Orlando was a contest, and it was open to anyone in the world. You could submit a Kahn design, and 1500 submissions were given, which is the law. And as they narrow them down, basically we took all 1500 then they brought it down to 10 which is a lot cut out. And the people voted on 10 and got down to five. And then they toured around five, and then they got tempt about three or two, which mine was one of them, and they whittled it down from there. And then it became official. So what I learned from that process was that all the designs that were really finalists they were into two categories. Which one was abstract stars, just some stripes, some colors and then some that represented something visually like very obviously like. One was a swan, which it wasn't like a triangle. It was an actual illustration, which I thought was very good on the swan in mine visible fountain, which is pretty straightforward, not abstract. Not like two rectangles in a star. So I think the meaningful symbolism. Basically, you can't go wrong if you use colors, shapes to tell a story in a flag, and I think that's important. So, like if you put something on a flag like when you're thinking about your class project, don't just put something on there to put it on there, put on there for a reason and to really tell a story, because that's what we're doing. We're telling a city's story. The next rule is used to to three colors. There are a lot of flags out there that have a lot of colors, and it kind of gets a little little busy. And then there are some flags up there which do it really well. Like if we do world flags, Japan and Canada have amazing flags and those air so simple there two colors red and white , and then I'll show you a few city flags that use just a couple colors and these air these air so great, cause they're so simple. So I think the base based idea here is you can use simplicity really pared down your design . I think a lot of stuff out there. A lot of design stuff that you see is so busy, so complex, and you can really just simplify. And that's what we're doing here. When we do, our class project is just simplify the colors, the shapes. So simplicity is key. The fourth rule is no lettering or seals. You shouldn't have to write a cities name on a flag so that people will associate with the city. There's a couple of examples out there where it's just in big letters across it, and if you took off those, sometimes the flight would be good. But I think this one's kind of tricky with lettering, cause I know cities out there. They basically want to say, Well, we want people to see it and we want them to. If they're seeing for the first time, you want to know it's from our city. But you got to be patient because I've learned that you'll design a flag, and then it takes a little time for to be woven into the culture and really accepted into, you know, the culture and what people want. So as much as I think a city goes, let's slap our name on there so people will know it's us. You kinda have to. You know, you just use visual elements, and after a while people will link your flag to your city, even if the names on it and then with the seals, the seal is something that really it's that happens a lot, and so I think it's kind of the easy way. It's like what? We have a city seal, So let's put that on a flag. But I've worked a lot with different cities, and what I see in city seals and city logos is that they basically say, Wow, we like sailing parks, birds and all. We have a rover attract. So they put that all in a city seal or a city logo. We don't want to do that with a flag, so you really have to pinpoint what you're trying to say. Like, what was the city known for? What is the city known for was the city's history and on a very simplistic way, And then you do that instead of throwing the seal on there and, sadly, state flags. 20 0 arm or maybe 21. Have the state seal on a blue background. If you look at all the state flags, 20 of them have that which is is kind of crazy, So that must have been how it was done. At one point. The next rule is be distinctive, but be related, meaning you want to stand out. But you also want to be. You want to be related. You want people to kind of, if you want, it's a link. The flag should link to the city and the heritage and not be so your bold that you're kind of going away from your purpose. So with this knowledge of flags, I think we can begin our design well. What we We will apply what we've learned today in these in these rules, and we will choose a city. I spent the first years of my life in a town called Portage, Wisconsin. It's not very big, but it had an impact on me. I just liked I like the small town feel when I look back on it. My earliest memories are like of nature. There's the river running through it. And it has a slogan of where the North begins, which I think is cool. And so I thought this would be a great topic for my class project, my personal flag that I'll be designing. And then you guys can start thinking about what you want to do. Maybe it's the city you live in now. Maybe it's the city you were born in. Maybe it's a city you just like, or you go looking through flags and you go. You know what? Now that I know these five rules, um, let's find a city who is in need of a flag and let's revamp it. So we now have the framework here in these five rules and that we can start doing our class project. 3. Game: Good Flag, Bad Flag: Now it's time to play a fun game. I like to call good flag or bad flag. I will show you a ah picture of a flag from a city and you'll tell me whether or not it's a good or bad flag. Based on the flag design rules that we've gone over today, it should be pretty easy. But I figure this is a good way to kind of use our knowledge and, uh, be reminded of what makes a good flag and what makes a bad flag. And there's only five of these. So this is pretty quick. Just a fun little break in the class. All right, here's the 1st 1 Batson Rouge give you a few seconds to think about it. It is a bad flag. Got lettering? I mean, the name is so big on it, and, ah, they also put a seal the city seal, which I feel like they could have done better. So, uh, that's a bad flag. Next one. Portland, Portland, Oregon. It is a good flag. This is really nice. It's minimal colors, and I like the stripes in the star. They did a great job with. This is very well designed. I think it's a great flag. Next one. New Mexico. A good flag or a bad flag? This is a good flag. This is actually considered one of the best state flags around. Two colors, strong symbol in the middle and just a well done flag. Very minimalist, Very good. The next one, Santa Ana, California go to flag or bad flag. It is a bad flag. It's a bad flying, mainly because of the stuff in the middle. Now, if you took that out and just kept the, uh, the circle in the diagonal line, I think it would be really strong. They should maybe think about that. If it was really minimal like that, I think of the awesome. So it's like it's a bad flag with a glimmer of hope. All right, the last one, This is Baltimore. This is a good flag now in the middle. That statue landmark is really detailed, Um, and not very simplistic, but I think the shapes and the colors around it that pattern is so strong that it does make this a good flag. It's kind of a tricky one, but this is I feel it's a good flag. All right, So you did it. That was good. Flank or bad flag. Now we will continue and Ah, start our class project. 4. Class Project: Sketching Your Flag: in this video, we're going to start sketching our flag. So what? I'm in right now. I'm in photo shop and I've brought in the pdf that I've posted to the project page, which will serve as our background. So what you want to do and keep in mind, you can sketch on paper if you'd like to. I figured to be if this would be a fun introduction of sketching in photo shop, and in the future, I am going to teach a class on how toe draw digitally in photo shop with different brushes . And if you are going to draw in photo shop, what I did was brought in the pdf flattened it. So you have a white background, and then I'm creating a new layer which Aiken drawn. So the way I draws, I use my iPad pencil with my iPad that is sink to my laptop through app called Astra Pad, which I highly recommend. So whatever I draw on my ipad shows up in my laptop and vice versa. So first, we're gonna cover when we're when we're brainstorming. Here are a few simple questions that we can ask ourselves when we're brainstorming to design a flag, and these first questions are for anyone who's designing something that is a flag based on a city or maybe a country, and then also cover a few questions for if you're doing a company flag or a flag for your family, which could be a fun project. So the first question is your city. Does the name mean anything like my city's name is Portage, and it means to go from one body of water to another while carrying a canoe, And then another question would be any geographical. Is there any geographical feature? So let's say your your city or is named like Twin Peaks. Maybe you want to do some sort of, ah stylized mountain showing, like the two peaks or something like that, and or maybe it's very symmetrical and the top is a color. This would be filled in with color, and the bottom is another color. And then, just like that, you'd have a very simple kind of very striking flag design, huh? I'm gonna go back something I do command a and then just delete that. And then another. Another question you could ask yourself, while brainstorming would be is there any existing symbol? Maybe there's like a seal or a something that's already existing that you don't want to steal from. But you could use his inspiration. So maybe maybe the symbol of a city or country is like a unicorn or some sort of diamond shape? I'm not sure, But if that exists, you could incorporate that. Or is there any cool landmark like for a city? Um, you know, maybe maybe you have some sort of Ah, a lighthouse. And you could do a flag. That's kind of maybe the middle is like your lighthouse just kind of very symbolic and then off to the side are like these rays of light. And you know something where you're involved, you're evolving the landmark of the town of the country. And then another thing is another question is, did anything historical happened there, and the flag for San Francisco has a phoenix rising from the fire because they had a large fire back in the day. So maybe there was a war. Maybe there was some sort of Ah, a cool event. Not that wars are cool, but you know, something that was very historic that shaped the future of the town of the city and then things you can think about for like, if you're doing a family flag, What is your family name mean? Uh, you know, where's your family from? Is their history to your family? Did they make a certain journey? Um, stuff like that is good to ask. Or if you're doing a company flag, what does your company do? What's your company's name? What does it mean? And those are some questions that could get the ball rolling. And then what I'll also do here is to just do some quick sketches for you and you can follow along. So my city is his portage. It's on a river, and portage means to go between, you know, two bodies of water. So maybe I just start sketching and I'll zoom in here. I'll start sketching like maybe it's a river. I just want to show something really simple, some simple shapes that can signify a river. You know, maybe it's just a stripe down the middle, and then the two sides are a certain color, and then you're middle is the water, or you do something like here that you've got your um, you know, kind of a flowing shape that the, you know, this could be one color over here, and this could be another color and then 1/3 color in the middle, or what I think I'll do on one of my concepts. Is that what kind of stick with this slanted line down the middle and then going with the idea of carrying a canoe, I'll do a canoe, some kind of simplified shape, and then on one side it will be colored. And then the other side that color will be repeated but kind of reversed out. And then I can have some sort of Ah, a star cause a motto of my city is where the North begins, which I really like. So I could have some sort of a star signifying moving forward and then my river. You know, maybe this is land and this is river, and then my canoe will go from one to the other. Then another idea, because maybe I signified land with us. Just a stripe, her rectangle, and then my river could be a very simple triangle going to the horizon, and then I have some sort of a star signifying north. I just have, like a triangle in the middle, so I basically have my river. That's a very stylized shape. So what I want you to do is kind of just Makesem. You know, you kind of start with simple shapes, star triangle rectangle and just by doing a few of those, you can start having very simple flag designs. And I think it's best to just kind of sketch out ideas and, uh, to get going from there. So once you have some sketches down, you can bring him into illustrator and you can start vector rising or fly. 5. Class Project: Vectorizing Your Flag: So the next thing we're going to do in our class project is to take our brainstorm and our sketch ideas, and we're gonna vector rise it. So I'm an illustrator right now, and I have set up a new document. My art board is six inches wide by four inches high, and the ratio of a flag size is normally the height is normally 2/3 of the with. Of course, we have things like, uh, the outlier, which is the Ohio State flag. And that's just that just makes its own rules That doesn't fit in with the format. But you know what? Ohio is a bad ass, so we're going to stick to this normal rectangular format here, and overflight designs are gonna be different. But I will show you some very common tips and illustrator tricks that will help you have symmetry in your designs. And also it'll just be Cem accuracy. So the first thing I'll do is I'll show you how to have a symmetrical like if you've if you reflected this side over here so that its symmetry, so I'll give you an example, and some of you may already know this, but This is just helpful, uh, helpful stuff. So what I have over here is my Swatch panel, which is just default. It's print. It's a print default Swatch panel. Just because I'm not gonna worry too much about color right now, So this gives wide variety, and I'm going to stick to, like, basic primary blues reds, maybe a light blue, just to keep it very simple. This is more about drawing an illustrator for your flag rather than worrying about color or color theory. So, uh, the first thing we're gonna do is I drove rectangle. It's six inches wide by four inches high, and then I'm gonna dio aligned to our board. He could do center center where you could do a line left in line top. Once I discovered a line, the tool for a line. There was no turning back. It's amazing. It just helps you. Ah, no, that whatever you have my rectangle iss sized to the same size of my art board, and then I have aligned it. So it's perfect. It's on there, and now the next thing I'll do, I use a line for a lot of things. So, like a full throw guide in here, right there. And I'll do a line. Make sure it's on our board and then center if and you can also do the same thing with with a vertical with a vertical line come back. I'm not gonna worry about a vertical kind, though. So one of my sketches was a river that was basically a triangle. So what I'm gonna do here is just draw half the triangle, make sure it's it's going from the corner to the top to the guide to the bottom. So I know it's accurate and also of my smart guides are and we just go over here and I can not very bright object transform, transform each. And then I'm gonna dio a reflect X on the right side. So it'll flip that side, preview it, then copy. So I know this is super basic. No hero. Select both of these holding down shift. No new Pathfinder merge, So I know that's really basic, But you know what? That could be a flag. So this could be a river going to the horizon. So the reason why I showed that was just to show you symmetry and reflecting so you could do like the site of a flame and then flip it. And then there's your other side of the flame or a triangle, and then you flip it, it becomes a diamond, and then the other thing I'll show you here is, uh this is also very helpful where all right, I have my base color and then I'm going to draw on top of it. Six by four. I go up to my transform. And so right now it's the with is six and the height is four. What I'm gonna do here, I want a I want to split this into thirds and just have a stripe going down the middle. There's two ways I can do that. I can either take this, slide it down to what I want and then align it to be in the middle. There we go. I have a stripe. But what I did there was I that, you know it's not accurate, so I want to make it thirds. So I want the middle stripe to be 1/3 of the whole thing so I can go to transform here I go to my height, four inches. Divide by three boom. And because this is clicked right in the middle, it won't. It won't change it so that it comes up here goes down here. It doesn't right in the middle. So it goes like that. If that makes sense. So right now, So inflate design that trick, the transform is very helpful. You could do the same thing with, uh, with going down the middle because a lot of times you'll see like a grid on a flag. So I'll have the with and obviously obviously splitting six into three is easy, but will still do it be to. So then you have three stripes. Now, this isn't this isn't the design going for right now will design what I'll do. But I wanted to show you that a line and then transform and splitting into 3rd 4th 6th whatever you want. Tohave symmetry and your flag is very important. So right now I draw my flag and hopefully this helps you, um, kind of see the process and you could be drawing your flag as well. I'm not gonna bring my sketch in here because even though it's useful to trace, I have it in my head so I'm going to do it from scratch. I also think that will kind of help. Um, I think it will help. Kind of you see it from scratch. It's like the training wheels are off. So maybe that might be helpful for you guys. All right, so the first step I'll do So I'm going to draw a canoe. It's gonna be right down the middle, and then I'm gonna have I'm gonna have it be split so that the left color will be different from the right color. So how old do that is? Bring just a random guide down the middle, find art board, and I'm gonna draw my canoe. I'm going to do this and outlines Click on my guide. So I'm perfectly in the middle. Like I said, I also have a vector drawing course if you need some. If you, uh, need any kind of help with the vectors are drawing with the the pen tool. And then, just like I said, I use a line a lot. So I click on with my directs electoral click on this click on this line two selection. Both. I lined them up, so that's kind of Ah, dingy canoe. I want a little more height to it, so I'm gonna go here with me. Delic, Select tool, direct, select tool. Gonna bring these up a little. A little bit of a heft to my to my canoe here. So I was an outline mode. Now I can, uh a color to this was to white. Let's have it be real simple. So now I have this shape drawn right to my guide. So now I can do transform, transform each flip it and boom, I have a canoe. And now it's perfectly online because I drew 1/2 then flipped it. So now I do Pathfinder merge. I'm gonna take my guide out of here. I think is that might confuse us. So right now, it's a pretty simple, pretty simple flag, but, uh, do a little something here just to kind of make it a little more interesting. So I'm gonna dry draw a diagonal line here. I'm gonna not put a stroke or I feel on it, and then I'm going to see what this does. Let's see, I don't, Iet, so many of our board oh, was drawn direct. Select tool. I want to be on the normal would be on the selection arrow, which I'm on gonna line it. There we go. So now this diagonal is perfectly in the middle. So what I'm gonna do is select this, which has no Phil, no stroke. You can also select background. What a copy. This line. So I have the line in the background. I'm gonna do Pathfinder. And if you're not familiar with Pathfinder, it's fun to just try all these different things, cause some you use a lot, some you won't. So I'm going to divine. And then I'm gonna dio object on group select. Both those pieces on group basically means instead of them being grouped together there now , separate. Now they're separate pieces. And now the reason why I copied that line, but so I can paste in, You know what backfired. All right, So now what I'm gonna do think on the fly here and take my direct, select and copy just that line. I'm gonna take a solid feel out of it. Now I have that same diagnosed right here, so I'm going to select the canoe and the line, and I'm gonna divide that as well un grip it. So we'll see how this works. I haven't tried this, but bad. I mean, I'm not saying this is perfect, but, you know, maybe this is a starting point where it's like, this is land. This is water. This is the the poor Taj. Now, what I've done is I took a little break. I kind of slept on the design and I thought about how I want to proceed. I'm gonna make some few tweaks here that I'm actually going to do another version real fast just to show you and then how you can kind of do a template or like, a mock up so that it looks like a real flag. So what I'll do here, I'm gonna change the colors of this. Earlier I said this wasn't really a color theory class, and that's true. But I didn't want that to be perceived as I'm not gonna worry about color. So I'm gonna choose my blues here. I'm gonna do ah shows a default green because when I think of the City of Portage, there's a lot of parks and there's a lot of greenery. It's a very green place. So, um, that's why I wanna bringing earthy, an earthy color. That's kind of cool, but that might be a little too bright. So I can also show you one of the most common things on a flag is a star. If you do it, just a default. Um, a default star here. It brings this okay, star, but it's not perfect. Eso if you hold down option and shift. You see how it goes from that to a very straight perfect star, so that could be helpful in your designs. If you're doing a Starks, a star is very common. I'm going to do a star over here kind of showing the canoe going towards the star. Maybe the North. Uh, but I'm gonna do a multi. Uh huh. Let's try it again. Double click. And then I'm gonna do nine points and we'll see what that gets me here. That's kind of cool like that. And then I'll make it same color. Is that so? Kind of like this is land. This is water, the canoes going forward, maybe towards North, a star in the North Star, who knows? But I like the idea of instead of just having this works like which direction is that's going? This shows you know, where the North begins. Its going forward. It's going north. That's why I like that. So this will be the first design, Uh, that I have no save this, and then we'll start over just quickly here, So I'm gonna drag drag a guide to the middle. That's to a line for the middle. Do a real quick design here just to kind of show you another option on maybe some other illustrator tips here. I started with this color last time, but I want to make it a little little darker. I want this one tohave a riel. Real contrast. So what I'm gonna do here? This is my background color, and then I'm gonna go to my guides here. My guides were showing up. I'm gonna make sure these air perfectly in the middle, so I'm gonna I grabbed the two points with my direct select tool, and then I'm gonna do make sure it's art board centered so that when I flip it, it will be perfect. So now I'm going to get a real contrast in color. Let's see what that could be. Something. It's like this transform transform each. I'll do reflect X middle there so that it flips over. Copy. And then So what I'm trying to do here is like a river. Um, the idea of, like, the river going towards the horizon, and then I'll put a star in the middle. See how this looks. You know, Tom, my default there. So I'm gonna drop this back to five, draw it, do my option shift so that it's a perfect star. I've got it selected. So go to a line, do it in the middle. Not sure. I want a perfect star, though. Not sure if I like that. I'm gonna just like both of these parts merge. Bring this down. See what that does. You know, what it might do is bring this point up this point then if you If you've ever made a object that's already flipped and merged, and you want to change it, all you have to do is delete. Um, you know one side of it, close off this end, and then you can make your tweaks like I did there. And then you could just re reflect it. Gonna go back, select both parts, merge And now I've got my So I want this to look like an arrow pointing north on, But I wanted to be pointing towards a star. I liked the star That was in my other design. So I think I might just do that again. So I'm going to do nine. I'm gonna make it a little more when you tweak thes your outer radius in your inner radius So the closer they are, the last pointy it's gonna be So let's see, That's pretty pointed, but I think that's OK. Let's see what this looks like. I want this to almost be like a beacon of light at the top. Like here we are going north. Here's our guide, you know, really forward thinking and very optimistic. I think that would be good. So I centered it. I want this peak to almost be like the star. I think I like that. We'll see. But, you know, this is always a you know, it's a process. It's and it's you know, when you're in here and you're in Illustrator, something that I can just kind of stress to you is play around like you may like this saving version and then you can save a copy. Like I think a lot of the things that happened as I'm designing our kind of these little tweaks that you maybe didn't mean to do. Like, maybe you want to make it obvious that this is a river. So you put an actual horizon in there. Uh, and then there's your stars to me that it went from looking like maybe a mountain to looking like and with the reason why I have this middle in here is because I do. Do you want there to be some sort of arrow or like feeling of mo mentum, which I like, like perspective? I like that a lot. And then as you're doing this so you can play around with color, you want to keep it minimal. But you could always do something like what if it's I know about that, But what if it's stars really bright and then it's, you know, really shines something like that. So now what I have are two very distinct different flags that are based on the same city and the same kind of idea about a river, or like canoeing or the portage, you know, so and then I want to show you one more thing here is I did this earlier with my other design. I found a template on dribble, which was a flag template free mock up where all I had to do was drop my flag onto one of the layers as a smart object. So I edited the smart object and then boom. When I saved it, it added all the distortion. And so I went from just having a flat image like something like this were just fine, um, to really seeing how it's gonna look as a flag flapping in the wind, cause flags are rarely just a perfect rectangle, Um, and so I think that's cool. So you might want to find a a mock up on a stock side or dribble or something like that. And that could really come together, especially if you're pitching this to a city. So hopefully you've tweets your design and you have something that you're ready to. You ready to kind of finalize 6. Closing: someone closing. Thank you for taking this class fun with flags. I hope you've learned something not only about flight design, but also about design fundamentals in general. And please post your class project. I really want to see your flags and see what you come up with and feel free to submit him to a city and see what they do with them. And if you have any questions throughout this class or right now, please post comments or questions on the community page and I'll get back to you. Or you can look me up on Instagram and you can direct message me and I'll get back to you. So I hope you had fun and I'll see you in our next class.