Today the Checkmate Chronicles will embark on the artistic journey of creating characters for Chessarama, a world where even chess pieces can express emotions and carry unique moods.
This devlog explores the creative process that brings life and personality to the iconic Street Soccer pieces!
The challenge of crafting chess figures
Crafting chess figures presents a unique challenge.
While they are fundamentally chess pieces, we've transformed them into characters with distinct anatomies. Yet, they must still retain the clear legibility of traditional chess pieces.
To achieve this, our approach prioritized adhering to the standard shapes of these pieces, ensuring that players can instantly recognize each one on the board.
Uniformity in Street Soccer
Unique to the “Soccer” theme within Chessarama, every piece wears the same soccer team uniform.
The image below showcases the various design options for the soccer uniform, highlighting the decisive moment of introducing stripes, which further enhanced the sporty essence of Street Soccer:
This uniformity, while capturing the essence of a soccer team, introduced an additional design challenge. With each piece dressed identically, it becomes even more imperative to distinguish them from one another.
Unlike other Chessarama themes where outfit might differentiate pieces, in Street Soccer, the emphasis on the intricacies of the head and the iconic shapes of each chess piece became paramount.
It wasn't just about dressing them for the game; it was about giving each a unique identity while ensuring unmistakable recognizability on the board.
The Rook's robust design
The Rook, for instance, stands as one of the more straightforward designs. With its stout and flattened structure, its signature feature is the flat top of its head. We aimed to keep this cylindrical and robust silhouette, staying true to its traditional counterpart.
Different hair variations for the Rook were explored to get the perfect blend of the iconic piece and the theme of the game:
After settling on a design direction, three distinct hair variations were further detailed:
The final sketch of the Rook showcases options with and without a beard, along with an informative callout highlighting the hair's top design:
This paintover captures the refined and polished look of the Rook, where the emphasis on hair detail is evident:
The Bishop's distinctive silhouette
The silhouette of the Bishop was quite challenging. Ensuring that the hair retained a "candle-flame" essence while also introducing unique breaks and cuts was pivotal.
This image showcases the Bishop's silhouette exploration, emphasizing the candle-flame inspired hairstyle. Variation D was selected for further refinement:
The Bishop's design encountered readability issues in-game. To address this, we tested the piece from different angles to ensure its silhouette was distinct and recognizable:
The Queen's royal elegance
Her design journey was marked by iterations, especially in her hairstyle.
When we create a Queen piece, we always focus on two things: the inverted trapezoid shape, and the crown.
To give her personality without losing the Queen shape, various hairstyles were explored, with the final choice being a braid:
Bringing pieces to the board
When we place the pieces within our dioramas, we create a dynamic gaming experience — the gameplay and the art need to be side-by-side to match unique encounters.
In Chessarama, every piece on the board tells a story, and the character design is a crucial element in conveying these stories.
We're excited to share our creative process with you, from the initial moodboards to the final, fully realized characters.
Stay tuned for more insights into the artistry behind Chessarama. 💙
And don't forget to add Chessarama to your Wishlist!
We'd also love to hear from you: what would you like to know more about in the “Behind the scenes” of Chessarama for the next chapter of Checkmate Chronicles? Put in the comments below!
See you soon! ♟️