Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Boxy Chessmen

One of my favourite presents last Christmas was a beserker replica from The Lewis Chessmen. There are 11 pieces in the National Museum, Edinburgh and 82 pieces at The British Museum in London. Exquisitely carved from walrus ivory or whale teeth, thought to have been made in 12th Century Norway and discovered on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 amid mysterious circumstances.

Doesn't all that inspire you to design a chess set? It does me, so over the last couple of weeks I've been sketching some first draft line drawings of The Boxy Chessmen. Coincidentally I am also just about to finish Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories, which are all about the amalgamation/clash of Saxon Christianity and Danish Paganism, so the design of my first piece, the pawn, came about as a result of these influences. The helmet shape alludes to the corvid beaks of Odin's messenger ravens Huginn and Muninn which in turn connect with the name we now use for the war fortification, rook. I liked the beak shape so much it became central to my design. Some pieces will inevitably get changed as progress continues but I'm pretty happy with them for a first draft.

Next I'll create high resolution sculptures in ZBrush and eventually they will become the pieces in a realtime 3D chess game. I am also tempted to send the high res sculpts to a 3D printer so that I have an actual physical set. This has been a very fulfilling project so far.
Click on images to enlarge.