If you speak Latin (yes, I do) you'll note that the left side of the shield as you look at it is referred to by the Latin word for right, dexter, and vice versa. This is because they're actually referred to from the viewpoint of the person carrying it.
OK, now we've got that out of the way, we can move on to actually dividing a shield up, since a shield of a single, plain tincture is both boring and rare. There are any number of ways of doing so, but these are probably the most common:
|Per bend |
That first shield in the group above would be blazoned as per fess, or and gules. The order of colours is always from dexter to sinister, and chief to base (top left to bottom right). So the next one would be per pale, or and gules. One can also say party per bend, or and gules, or party per pale, etc etc., although that's the more formal version and somewhat less common.
|The Royal Arms of the|
And there we go. Next time, I'll cover actually putting things on the shield. Which is also going to introduce us to the most important rule of heraldry.