Intro: Classic Video Game Chess Set
This is a chess set and carrying case themed from classic video game characters and structures. I wanted the pieces to still resemble, as much as possible, regular chess pieces so that playing on this board wouldn't be confusing. The games included are Castlevania, Donkey Kong, Mario and Peach (from the classic side scroll Mario Bros.), Pac- Man (Mr. and Mrs. Versions), Zelda and Link (from a variety of games), and Sonic and Knuckles (from the Sega game). The lighter side of the pieces is the Mario and Peach side, while the darker side is the Link and Zelda side.
For the figures themselves, I printed out a variety of pictures of these figures and simplified the structures so that they would be easier to sculpt. These figures can be molded as simply or as complexly as a person likes.
- Oven bake clay, I used Sculpey, but any brand will work
- Sculpting tools (these are optional, small knifes, toothpicks, etc. will work, I use a cheap plastic set I got for $3)
- Bottle cap (I found that this was the best size and shape for making the bases of the figures, anything will work, as long as it's between 3/4" and 1" to fit on each chess board tile)
- Pictures to use as visual references
Board and Case
- Wood (I just bought a piece of pre-treated paneling at a local hard ware store so that the wood would already have a straight edge, and also needed is a flat piece of wood at 1/4" thick (the dimensions for all the wood pieces are in the next step)
- Glass tiles at 1"x1" (I bought mine at a local hobby supply store in packs of 48 in black and white colors)
-Stain, I used an oil based stain in the shade of light oak
- Fabric to line the inside of the case (I used an old shirt)
- Glue (I used an all-purpose glue so that I could use the same glue for the wood and glass tiles)
- Grinder or file
- T- square
- Scissors to cut fabric for liner
- Wood glue or fill if there are any small imperfections in the case after the case is assembled
- Sand paper, also to smooth out any perfections in either the case, or the figurines after they are baked
*Note, that if a person has figurines or toys that can be used, I encourage him or her to use those, which would make the chessboard cheaper to make. Also, to save money on the tiles, a person can paint them on the board or use wooden squares.
Step 1: Making the Carrying Case
The dimensions of thecase and board are as follows:
-The bases of the board itself (which holds the tiles)- 4"x8 1/4"x 1/4" - need two of these *Note, that there is an extra 1/4" on each side so that the ends will fit in the dado joints snuggly, the true dimensions should be 4"x 8 1/2"x 1/4", but when my tiles were measured, 1/4" was lost, and thus the former dimensions are the true dimensions.
- The short sides of the case, which hold the board- 4"x1 1/2'x1/2" need four of these with a 1/4" wide and 1/4" deep dado groove at 1" high so that there is 1" below and 1/4" of wood above the joint
- The long sides of the case, which also hold the board -7 3/4"x 1 1/2" x1/2" need two also with a dado groove that is identical to the grooves on the short side
- The inside sides, these are the sides of the board that go under the board and hold the hinges so that the chess board is continuous when opened and doesn’t have any wood in the middle- 7 3/4" x 1" x 1/2" need two of these pieces
Then assemble these pieces using all- purpose glue. The flat board simply slides into the dado grooves, making sure that the sides without dado groves go on the inside. After the glue dries, file or grind out the space where the hinges will be, I grinded mine to approximately 1/16." An optional step here is to make 45 degree cut at a depth of 3/16" at the corners of the board. Then screw the hinges in, depending on the wood being used, these holes may need to be pre-drilled.
Finally, apply the lining to the case; the best way to do this is to cut the fabric out in a rectangle, and then remove the corners by cutting squares in them. This way, the piece of fabric will lie down in the box and line the sides, but there will not be any excess to bunch up in the corners. The dimensions of the liner should be 7 3/4" x3 3/4 " with the squares cut out of the corner being 1"x 1"
Step 2: Making the Board
In this step, I wanted to highlight the importance of creating a right angle when applying the tiles. Notice how two edges of tiles have been joined in a right angle, this way when the rest of the tiles are applied, the tiles will create a square grid. The best way to do this is to use a t- square, apply the tiles in the pattern shown, and allow the all-purpose glue to completely dry, and then add the rest of the tiles later.
To finish the board and case, sand any rough spots, fill in any mistakes with wood glue or fill, and stain. It's best to cover the tiles with masking tape and then stain the board so that no stain gets on the tiles.
Step 3: Making the Pawns
The Pawns are Mr. and Mrs. Pac- Man. Each piece is made in the same way, but the bases are different colors and Mrs. Pac- man has a hair bow.
Use the bottle cap to not only cut out the bases, but also the actual Pac- Man shape. Then in the Pac-Man shape, cut a small triangle out for the mouth and apply a small dot of black clay to each side for the eyes. To apply the Pac-Man to the base, just gently blend the bottom of the Pac- Man to the base by gently pressing the clay down at the joint area. To make the ribbon, cut a small strip of clay approximately 1/4" wide, 1/8" thick and 3/4" long. Then slightly pinch the ends to make a small hump in the middle and draw a small line on each end.
Step 4: Making the Rooks/ Castles
These pieces are very simple to make; the green tube is for the Mario side of the board and the castle, which is Castlevania themed goes on the Link side.
To make the green tube, use the bottle cap to cut out the top of the tube. Then role a piece of clay out that is approximately 2/3's as thick as the top. Apply these two pieces together by blending the joint together. Finally, use the thumb to press out a small indent in the top, but not so deep that the shape of the top is dramatically changed.
To make the castle, use the bottle cap to make one black base at approximately 1/4" thick. Roll out a trunk, just like for the green tube. A grey strip of clay that is 1/4" thick and the length of the circumference of the trunk is also need. Also, take a piece of clay and mold it into a disc shape that is approximately 1/2"x1/2"x1/4" and place it on the top of the castle. This piece of clay, once molded to the top, can be flattened out into a rounded square, then fold the corners to the top and pinch the sides to make a castle tower. Finally, take the grey strip and wrap it around the trunk, right below the black tower.
Step 5: Making the Knights
The first knight on the Zelda and Link side is an ode to Donkey Kong- a barrel with a red tie hanging off of it. To make the barrel, roll out a piece of clay (preferably brown, but I used this color to help contrast the colors on the board), then role it into a cylindrical shape that bulges slightly at the center. Also, use the thumb to press some slight indentations in the top and bottom. Next, use small strips of black clay that are the same length as the circumference of the barrel and wrap them around the barrel in the three places shown. To make the tie, press out a small piece of red clay and cut out a thin tie shape and then press a small piece of yellow clay on it (on this piece of yellow clay would be the initials, DK, but I choose not to put those on). Finally, make some lines on the sides that make the sides look like wooden planks.
To make the Sonic and Knuckles knights, a few base pieces are needed. First, roll out oval shaped heads, small cylinders for the legs and arms, long triangular shapes for the back of the head and triangles for the ears. Combine these pieces together to make the figures. The finishing touches such as eyes, nose, and mouth can be molded right from the oval head (which I find more difficult) or by rolling out these small shapes and applying them to the oval.
Step 6: Making the Bishops
The Bishops are molded after Castlevania structures on both sides. On the Mario side, there is a cross and wipe, like the Castlevania hero would have. To make this figure, cut a cross from a piece of clay that is 1/4" thick. To make the wipe, roll out a small piece of gray clay for the handle, and a very thin piece of black clay for the whip itself. Then apply the cross to a black base cut out with the bottle cap that is 1/4" thick. Finally, just wrap the whip around the cross.
To make the other Bishop, which is a coffin for a vampire from Castlevania, also make a 1/4" thick black base. Then cut out a coffin shape in a piece of black clay that is 1/4" thick and apply it to the base. Finally, roll out a thin piece of red clay and wrap it around the coffin's base.
Step 7: Making the Kings
Making the kings requires two different processes. The process for making the body shape of Link can be found in the next step because it is the same way the body of the queens are made, except for the fact that Link had cylindrical legs. Also for Link, roll out cylindrical arms in addition to the cylindrical legs. Note, that there are no feet, and that the legs connect to the base, which serve as the feet. The base is also made with the bottle cap and is 1/4" thick. Also on Link is his hat, which I made by rolling a piece of clay into a pyramid and curving it. Don't forget to cut thin strips of brown clay to make a belt and to cut out a sword shape to put on the back of Link.
Making Mario is a slightly easier process, but different from Link and the Queens. The general shapes needed are shown in the picture below. Once these pieces are molded together, the long strip of clay can be shortened to create the overalls, and add yellow clay dots to make the buttons. To make the hat, use a flattened piece of clay. The shoes on the base are the same way for this figure as Link, the base is the shoes, just mold the brown base into the legs.
Making the heads for both figures is similar, and this goes for the queens as well. First start with an oval piece of clay, and then add facial features. I wanted my characters to look like cartoons, so I used big round white eyes, with dots of colors. Then for the noses I just rounded a bit of clay and applied it to the face, the same goes for the ears. Also, the mouth is a very thin strip of red clay with a line made across it to create lips. The distinguishing features, such as the moustache are just added pieces of brown clay for example.
Step 8: Making the Queens
Making the queens on both sides is a similar process. To make the dress and body, roll out a cylindrical, slightly pyramidal shape. To make the arms, roll out small cylinders as well. To make the hands, take small balls of clay that are proportional to the arms, and simply press a tool into the clay to make finger and thumb shapes. Make the heads the same way the heads of the kings are made. The hair is also made in the same way for both figures; cut out thin strips of clay that are rounded, and layer them on the head of the figure. Remember, that the only real difference in these figures is the colors of the clay, and use the pictures to refer to the specified colors.
Once all the figures are made, bake them according to the instructions on the package. If there are any flaws, simply sand them out with sand paper once the figures are baked.