My goal was to design a chess set... optimized from the ground up for 3D printing. This meant that it should look amazing on any printer using the most basic of settings, and it shouldn’t require any supports (including for the knight). I furthermore wanted to give it an iconic look that stands out as unique, while simultaneously capturing the essence of the standard modern chess set.
My desire to avoid supports meant that I would limit myself to overhangs of no greater than 45 degrees. And as I started playing with that, I realized that a minimalistic set relying on geometric / low-poly shapes would fit the bill nicely. I think the end result has turned out great!
For sizing, I designed the pieces at 112 mm tall for the king and queen, with the rest of the pieces down from there. This is pushing the upper bounds of US regulation size pieces. However, I exported the stl files at 50% of the size I modeled them at, which is a much more reasonable size for an average chess set.
As currently scaled, the base sizes are 16 mm for the pawns and 24 mm for all other pieces. Feel free to scale them to 200% for the max regulation size, or make them whatever other size you feel would be best.
I chose not to make the king taller than the queen because it’s 2020, and there’s no reason to be prioritizing the male monarch over the female monarch. This is an egalitarian chess set. ;) And honestly, the king’s importance lies solely in the fact that its fate determines the end of the game. But the queen is much more powerful. I also chose to make the rook taller than the bishop and knight. Some will disagree with this, but in my opinion, it is the more powerful piece of the three, and the castle-tower appearance makes more sense being taller anyway. On these height matters, I realize that my decisions are atypical, but I’m not aware of any regulations prohibiting such.
One area where I did more distinctly deviate from the standard modern chess set was to remove some of the distinctly Christian imagery. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with Christian imagery (I’m a Christian myself), but chess was developed in India and Persia long before Christians ever discovered and redesigned it. And today chess is played by people of all faiths and no faiths. So making the pieces out to be distinctly Christian just feels odd.
In this vein, I changed the cross on top of the king’s crown into a new unique design. And I changed the bishop’s miter into a sort of tricorn. Because, why not? Tricorns are awesome! The piece is still called a bishop, which is a Christian term, and I’m not renaming the file, as I don’t want to be too confusing. But you can think of it as a pirate piece if you prefer! I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. My “pirate bishop” ended up being the signature piece most unique to my design.
Let me know what you think of these pieces. I hope you enjoy them, and if you like them enough, feel free to tip me a coffee!
Update: Per request, I have uploaded step files to facilitate remixes. Have at it! Just be sure to upload whatever you come up with as a remix so we can all enjoy.