I'm currently painting a unit of converged Russian grenadiers for the Great Northern War (Busch's Grenadiers). As the usual options I take for flags (Maverick Models, Little Big Men Studios or print out from a book I own) were not available for this unit, I decided to paint one myself.
The material I used was the foil from around the top of a wine bottle. These days, this foil is usually in some sort of plastic but this was an old fashioned metal one (I think aluminium, so not so old fashioned actually), so could be used for a flag as it is paintable and shapeable. I started by folding the foil around the flag pole, then unfolding it again and sticking it to a piece of cardboard for the base layer of paint:
The next step was drawing on the design in gel pen—I had tried pencil, but it was a rather hard one so the drawing did not show up or actually even took off some of the base paint. The design is the classic Russian GNW design of a celestial hand handing down a sword within a circle and wreath. I added a grenade because these are grenadiers:
The design was then painted over in the classic three layer (or two, as the case may be) method. You have to make sure the ink from the gel pen has dried though—mine wasn't quite dry yet the next morning when I tested it - hence the smudges on the left hand (obverse?) side of the flag below:
After painting most of the colours, except the final highlights of the field of the flag, I stuck it onto the grenadier ensign with white glue and painted on the final highlights. It then looks like this:
Not bad, but I prefer the prefab versions—a lot less work :).