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HYPOTHETICAL RANKS

Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Dealing primarily with contemporary and historical Earth nations. (Science-fiction oriented rank systems, such as Star Trek, Starship Troopers, etc.), should be placed in FICTIVE Rank Insignia.

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Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Chuck Anderson » Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:58 pm

Hi Everyone!

What form do you think generic rank insignia would take?
Stripes, chevrons, bars, stars, wreaths, various colours, etc.

How elaborate a form could generic insignia of rank take?

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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Dorward » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:43 pm

Well, my opinion - they should be some kind of a combination of stripes, chevrons and stars.

Stripes - for enlisted, chevrons (including combined with stripes/arcs) for NCOs, stars for officers (maybe,combined with other shapes, like vertical/horizontal narrow stripes, wreathes, etc). But imho, all stars should be of the same size - for 2nd Lt and for the Marshal. And no difference in colors - I mean, ranks shouldn't differ by colors (not as gold and silver oak leaves of US major and lt-colonel).
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Toushu » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:52 am

Without using backgrounds or embroidery for e.g. shoulder boards, I think the most generic way of making rank insignia is to use the US model for NCOs and enlisted, and modern japanese or german insignia for the officers. Japanese ranks all use sakura flowers (as stars) and straight bars, while germans use lozenge stars and wreaths.

So using those structures might be the most "generic" but the insignia themselves can be anything.

In a way british/commonwealth method is also damn generic except for the warrant officers: chevrons, lozenge stars, crowns and batons.
Come to think of it, the finnish system is also rather generic, except for a few exceptions: thin chevrons for NCOs (though 4 for staff sergeant); thick chevron for warrant officers; roses and thin board edge for officers, roses and double board edges for senior officers, coat-of-arms lions for generals.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Toushu » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:11 am

This is as generic a rank chart as I can come up with.

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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Dorward » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:21 am

Well, if to follow your logics, colleague Toushu, let's then remember the Russian military insignia system - I mean, Russian Imperial and then before (Soviet Union, Russian Federation) and after (Russian Federation) "chevrons" for enlisted (chevrons were not the best idea, imho).

I think this one is quite generic as well, and it is not necessary to use colors to tell one rank from another.

Generally, all existing insignia systems could be roughly subdivided into literally several sub-categories: British, USA, French, German, Russian, Austrian (maybe I've omitted one or two more). All others are just versions of mentioned ones, sometimes combined with each other, sometimes revised somehow.

Your chart is universal, and I agree with it.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Toushu » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:47 pm

I'd already put some thought to "generic" insignia before, mainly for my sci-fi stuff in the form of mercenary insignia .

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Don't mind the difference of screen names, I tried to get back into the forums with my old name (Tounushi), but somehow the system wasn't very cooperative on that front. Same etymology with the names, though...
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Miklós Lovász » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:42 pm

What you need to do is think out of the box. In other words, don't factor in the existing systems, but rather come up with an entirely new one. Out of top of my head: different cathegories with different numbers of point, like: junior NCO's 3-pointed stars, senior NCO's 4-pointed stars, WO's 5-pointed stars, company and field officers 6-pointed stars, general officers 8-pointed stars. Also, one would add some bar(s) and/or chevron(s) to these insignia ... say, nothing for junior NCO's, chevron for senior NCO's, nothing for WO's, one bar for O1-3, two bars for O4-6, three/one thick bar/laurel bough for general officers ..
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Toushu » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:50 pm

Miklós Lovász wrote:What you need to do is think out of the box. In other words, don't factor in the existing systems, but rather come up with an entirely new one.


Already done that.

Just the other day I thought of a preliminary system for another faction in my sci-fi 'verse.

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Still, the stratification of units does tie one's hands a bit.
All units have their own commander and the commander's second (+sergeant major in larger units).
I tried to come up with something other than the traditional (3+3+3)+(3+3)+(4) structure that most militaries seem to have.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby NJSMITTY348 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:00 pm

My suggestion would be to use Royal Air Force style insignia for officers.
For other ranks would use U.S. Chevrons with arcs or bars.
no Warrant officers.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby JMRamos » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:19 am

So how do you make them? I'm inspired to make my own.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Toushu » Mon Apr 29, 2013 5:29 am

JMRamos wrote:So how do you make them? I'm inspired to make my own.


I use Inkscape. It's an open source vector program.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby JMRamos » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:22 pm

Thanks
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby NJSMITTY348 » Wed May 01, 2013 12:01 am

Looking on the new pages and updates at the Red Army 1917-1922
and Azerbaijan Red Army 1922-1924 these seem to me to be great examples of a generic rank insignia system.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Toushu » Wed May 01, 2013 12:33 am

That was actually the point as far as RKKA was concerned. They wanted to divorce from the "bourgeois" systems. Their insignia are beyond simple: geometric shapes.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Dorward » Wed May 01, 2013 10:43 am

Well, sometimes the simpler - the better. At least, these RKKA insignia are easy recognizable and one can tell one rank from another in milliseconds.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of modern insignia, which are far from ergonomic approach and they need some significant time to be identified. It is well known that the human eye may easily identify up to three "close" identical objects and up to 4 a bit "separated". More than 3 close and 4 separated require more time to identify - the eye have to "calculate" them. Therefore, the RKKA system (which was created by Uborevich and supported by Trotsky) was not the worst one. By the way, as soon as Trotsky was a "free mason", he identified these geometric shapes as "masonic" symbols, this was one of reasons why they were accepted by RKKA so easily))
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby ijnfleetadmiral » Thu May 02, 2013 6:25 am

Toushu wrote:This is as generic a rank chart as I can come up with.

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Very nicely done...just missing the five-star rank or generic Field Marshal equivalent. smilies-15
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Dorward » Thu May 02, 2013 6:31 pm

This is my version of generic ranks insignia.

I have already demonstrated such an approach in another topic of this forum, but then just decided to develop it a bit – so, this is a final result.
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I’ve called these rank insignia as “Universal Ranks Insignia Patches” (URIP), because they can be worn on any uniform – moreover, they can be placed on various spots of mentioned uniforms (chest or sleeves).
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All units have same patches and differ in the colors of patch edgings only. Here you can see some examples of branch colors.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Medic_in_Uniform » Thu May 02, 2013 9:59 pm

Some interesting ideas but this sounds to me like one of those discussions where we need (if we can) to leave our pre-conceived ideas behind.

Things like rank markings inevitably have social, cultural and historical contexts:

is there a form of social "class" distinction that separates an "officer" class from an "enlisted" class...? would these have distinctly different uniforms and markings...?

What are the traditional symbols of the culture(s) from which the organisation derives? How might they be incorporated into use as markings of rank and grade...?

what were the operational requirements that necessitated differentiation and identification of specific leadership roles...? how did those leadership roles evolve evolve over time...? did the number and range of roles expand over time...? did some parts of the overall rank structure expand more than others...? have requirements changed...? perhaps some ranks subsequently become unnecessary and are now obsolete...? That's how apparent discontinuities and "gaps" in rank structures arise and how a simple linear progression can get knocked about and distorted over time — and why the markings identifying the ranks also evolve and are adapted to meet the changing requirements of the organisations which use them.


Now, having said all that, for me a truly generic set of rank insignia would ignore ALL of those things (!) and would, as much as possible, try to remain independent of all those factors. I've thought about it quite a bit and it seems that the most obvious, most simple marking that could be used is the "stripe" or the "bar." This could take the form of full-on naval-style cuff rings or simple bars like US-style army captain insignia; indeed, a direct equivalent e could be made from one to the other with the number of cuff-rings on a formal uniform being equivalent to the number of metal bars on a working uniform and thence a matching number of embroidered bars on patches for operational uniforms.

The devil is in the detail though; how do you use simple bars or stripes in combination to create a range of insignia that are both uncomplicated and also readily identifiable from one another...? If one was to try to be really clever (and had a bit of foresight), it could even be a pattern of insignia that also had capacity to expand and contract to meet changing operational requirements. By this, what I mean is that it should be possible to set up a basic "marker" insignia or pattern to identify each "group" of grades (e.g. the equivalents of junior NCOs, senior NCOs, junior (company-grade) officers, senior (field-grade) officers and, finally, command officers (flag / general officer equivalents); to this would then be added a number of sub-markers to differentiate grades within each group (as many as required).

I have a few ideas but it'll take me a while to develop them properly. I'll post some pics as soon as I can.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Dorward » Fri May 03, 2013 10:28 am

My friend Medic_In_Uniform))

It seems to me that you complicate this matter a bit - imho, each nation/faction possesses its own traditional ranks insignia system, which was originated long ago, and what we can see now is just an attempt to optimize it according to modern requirements. Lets take the Russian insignia system as an example.

Russians started to use stars on epaulets to differ officers in 1827, and stripes on shoulder straps for enlisted in 1843. Since, the approach was not changed significantly - well, the peculiarity of absence of any stars on epaulets/shoulder straps of supreme ranks in each officer's category (ober-, staff- and general officers, namely Captain, Colonel and General of Infantry) lasted till 1917. And then, after the October Revolution, for a certain period these shoulder straps and insignias were canceled "as a heritage of the Tzarist regime", and new "triangles-cubes-rhombs" system appeared, but in 1943 the previous system of striped for enlisted and starred for officers shoulder straps returned back and is still existing - thanks God, no "blanc" shoulder straps for principal officers in each category. So, the tradition is a strong thing, and I doubt the Russian Army will get rid of existing system in a nearest future.

Same situation with the Ukrainian Army - of course, our "wise" designers decided to refuse from vertical narrow stripes on officers' shoulder straps (one for ober-officers and two for staff-officers), and the difference between ober- and staff officers is in size of stars - which is terribly inconvenient. Nevertheless, the ranking system is of the Russian Imperial Army origin, and I doubt this so-called "international-like" system they announced some years ago will be accepted by the Ukrainian Army.

I'm sure, same situation is in any national army, so each existing ranking system with corresponding insignias can be named as generic easily.

But - we are creative people, and nobody can forbid us to draw imaginary things, including new ranks insignias))

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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Helios88 » Fri May 03, 2013 11:51 am

A rank system without gaps (at least in graphic) was the rank system of Waffen-SS.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby J.T. Broderick » Sat May 04, 2013 2:12 am

I usually don't delve into the hypothetical, but this something I have thought about before. Here is one system inspired by Mayan numerals. The patterns may help the eye "count" the numbers a bit. I think they would work fairly well on the chest (reminiscent of Star Wars) or on the sleeve (reminiscent of some WW2 Wehrmacht insignia). Probably not so good on shoulder loops/straps. These would be "subdued," but bright dress insignia or branch-colored would also be possible.

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Edit: A brighter version:
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Last edited by J.T. Broderick on Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Dorward » Sat May 04, 2013 3:07 pm

My friend J.T.))

Your chart resembles me something, and I was inspired to go a bit further - if you mentioned the Mayans numeric system, I've decided to use more modern approach and apply the QR-coding, which is wide-spread now)) So, this is a chart of QR-insignias:
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So, one can wear them either on a chest or on a sleeve or on a cuff, and the another person just has to use his/her QR-decoding device to recognize the rank of the QR-insignia owner)) Very easy! (lol)

But all this is just a joke. You've mentioned the Star Wars insignia system - the terrible one, imho. But your Mayan approach is correct since some of existing rank insignia systems resemble it. Another thing - besides of optimal and ergonomic approach, we should not forget about some aesthetic aspects, because rank insignias is a kind of a jewellery for real men))

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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby Medic_in_Uniform » Sat May 04, 2013 5:49 pm

Justin, that's exactly the kind of generic pattern that I was thinking of! The pattern I was playing with was slightly different but the principle is completely what I had in mind and I really like your sequential approach to the progression of insignia. Nicely done!

Funnily enough, it reminds me a little of another hypothetical set of insignia from this thread:

Hypothetical Space Force Ranks
http://forum.uniforminsignia.org/viewtopic.php?f=125&t=5363#p15243

At the bottom of the second page there's a great suggestion devised by Miklós Lovász that uses sequences of squares, although not with an individual unique pattern per rank in the way that you have used them.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby SFMRAS » Sat May 04, 2013 6:19 pm

Well, to toss my hat into this ring ...
Assuming we start with a blank slate:
I always thought a system based on, and modified from, the various navies (specifically the US)would be good.
Assuming we follow the OR-1 to 9 / E-1 to E-9, we'd get:
Rankless uniform for OR-1
1 quarter inch stripe worn on an epaulette for OR-2
1 half inch stripe for 0R-3
1 half inch and one quarter inch for OR-4
Etc. up to four half inch stripes for OR-9

Now, for officers we would follow the same pattern, but with the addition of devices, or embroidery to the epaulette, or a different epaulette.
Some examples of how it could go:
All officers would wear the same epaulette with four half inch stripes running from tip to bottom. Superimposed over the four stripes would be the rank insignia.

Alternatively, we could use chevrons for the non-officers and stripes for the officers, or just use chevrons for both, one pointing up, the other down, and still using the 1/4 and 1/2 inch differences. Similar insignia for different ranks is not unheard of.
I'm generally not fond of using the same ranks, but in different colors, but that's a legitimate route to go. Say, silver for non-officers and gold for officers. Toss in other colors to differentiate the various levels, i.e. enlisted, NCO, WO, JO, etc.
Or, use the same insignia, but in different spots to differentiate ranks. Cuffs for enlisted, on or around the elbow for NCOs, on the biceps for WOs, on the epaulettes for JOs, on the collars for SOs.
Or, have the rank insignia on one side representing one rank, and the same insignia on the other side representing a different rank. A bar on the left collar is a private first class, while the same insignia on the right is for a field marshal.
I'll do a rough sketch in MSPaint of some ideas, and upload them.
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Re: Generic Rank Insignia (Hypothetical)

Unread postby SFMRAS » Mon May 06, 2013 12:29 am

Now, I know I promised MSPaint, but I figure Inkscape is better. smilies-01
http://img834.imageshack.us/img834/715/unified.png
A hypothetical partial rank scheme.
The upwards pointed chevrons on the shoulder board is for an O-5, while the downwards pointing chevrons are for an E-5. The device is a placeholder, with the position and colors meant to aid in visual identifying the ranks. I envision a single, solid color for camouflage, perhaps brown for desert and jungle, and white or grey for camouflage meant for snowy climates.
This set uses the 'naval style' insignia.
http://img856.imageshack.us/img856/9045/unified0.png
Silver is an E-7; gold is O-8.
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