Alex Velazquez – The Chess Project

Posted In Art & Craft

This is my latest personal project. I’ve always wanted to create my own chess set of characters. My ultimate goal is to create 32 unique characters as part of the overall project. For each character, I use Pixologic Z-brush to concept, sculpt, apply color textures, pose and render.

For the Black Knight of Spades, I knew I wanted to create a human-horse hybrid, and I also wanted him to represent the Black Jack of Spades card. I was not going to do a normal centaur.. and I did not want to do a well done generic satyr. So, I started thinking about what a common ancestor that humans and horses descended from might look like. What was the closest animal before we diverged? I wanted an evolved version of that creature. I did not find a satisfactory answer to that, but that lead me into some Wikipedia articles on genetics and evolution, and in that research a word stood out – centromere. Now the meaning of that word has little relevance to this sculpt, except that it bounced around in my head like a katamari damacy ball and picked up different fragments of ideas. It “evolved” into centamare, and so was born my new race. I am aware of the limitations of his reach, and I put forth this idea. Perhaps powerful forward swinging motions are not natural to him. Perhaps warfare is not natural to him, and maybe even eating hand to mouth is not natural to him, so the reach and flexibility were not really a concern to him. But now that he must fight, his shield is studded with spades for bashing and spiked for up close stabbing. His knees and horns and are are spiked for trampling through hordes, and the plates allow him to shoulder butt heavier enemies. He is not a human, and as such, I would not want him to act and move like a human — I would want him to feel strange and move differently.

My design for Ruk, the Black Rook of Hearts is based on the Ace of Hearts card. The Black Queen’s models has a more tribal voodoo feel as well.
The whole project can be found on my website in the links below.

I am frequently asked for time lapses of my work, so I thought I would share a video of what I worked on this morning, the concept sketch for War Caster-The Bishop of Spades (link provided below).

My concept work is rarely more than this when working on personal work. Professionally I would create a series of thumbnails, flesh out a couple further, etc. but I try to stay fluid in my modelling and react to the shapes in 3D. The model is about all I need for a blockout. I will sit on this until I’ve blocked out the other spades, and then can come back and incorporate ideas, brushes, shapes, themes or techniques that I develop on the other models.

I hope you enjoy the work!


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