The motifs used in the design of Castelo Branco's embroidery are the result of diverse influences from 17th and 18th century European drawing and engraving, Portuguese tiles, Indian textiles and Chinese textiles and porcelain.

The motifs of Castelo Branco's embroidery are organized into categories: vegetal, anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and inanimate.

Plant Motifs:

Also known as phytomorphic (phyto from plant, morphic from shape), these motifs refer us to plants, fruits, leaves, and flowers. The vegetal motifs are not realistic representations, but stylized, sometimes taking on very fantastical forms.

The most common ones that can be identified with elements of nature are carnations, trunks, ivy, pomegranates, peonies, roses, artichokes, myosotis, marigolds, and acorns.

In addition to these, there are a number of examples that are very stylized and have no clear correspondence in the real world, and therefore give rise to a lack of consensus as to their interpretation. The most recurrent forms that undergo a greater diversity of stylization are carnations, pomegranates, and leaves. Myosotis, although common, are not very stylized. The fleur-de-lis is sometimes classified as an inanimate motif because it looks like an architectural decorative element.

Anthropomorphic Motifs:

The principle of stylization of vegetal motifs is applicable to anthropomorphic motifs (representation of human beings), which must respect the matrix of the historical quilt designs that serve as inspiration for the current ones.

The anthropomorphic motifs are the male and female elements. The male element usually appears with a female element holding hands (few specimens are known where the man appears alone). The man may appear mounted on horseback, as a hunter, or with a flower in his hand.

The female element, usually in the center of the quilts, is paired with the male element, but there are examples where the center of the quilt is composed of two female elements.

Zoomorphic Motifs:

We can identify various zoomorphic motifs such as horses in the quilts in which knights appear, dogs in the quilts representing hunts, some winged animals, reptiles, and quadrupeds.

However, the most represented zoomorphic motif in Castelo Branco's embroidery is the bird, with a great diversity of typologies. Although they can be identified as exotic or domestic, the principle of motif stylization still prevails.

Mythological Motifs and Specific Symbology:

The two-headed eagle is the only mythological motif we find in the current design of Castelo Branco Embroidery. There are several examples of bicephalic eagles, some with unusual forms, such as the eagle with the heart pierced by an arrow, the most bizarre representation, which never appears in historical quilts, and its use together should be avoided.

The heart is a motif of diversified universal symbolism, appearing sporadically in the Castelo Branco Embroidery, where it can be confused with ivy leaves and bows. Its existence should be taken into account, since, from both a religious and secular point of view, it is a motif widely used in embroidery. In the Castelo Branco embroidery this motif is more recurrent in the albarradas/pots.

Inanimate Motifs:

The inanimate motifs are divided into palmettes, shells, ribbons, bows, albanda/vases, and elements reminiscent of architectural ornaments, both Gothic and Baroque.