In this topic I'll post some of our own efforts and we'll appreciate your comments on them.
Any references to the existing (and good) boards & pieces designs are also valuable to us. We do not ask you to work on us for free and create new pieces sets, we're collecting your opinions :)
A few starting notes.
1. We are NOT considering 3D board and pictures (I mean real 3D, with board rotating and piece models) for now.
2. We don't discuss the 'external' stuff like arrows, board & piece markers etc. _now_. We are now focused on the board and pieces. The neighbouring topic of 'Ideas for a new Rybka' was really helpful in this matter and we'll implement some of the suggestions from there, but later.
3. The pieces will be in the vector format, most probably it will be SVG.
4. I wonder how much different piece sets is necessary for the GUI? ICC, for example, has at least 30, but I think this is too much.
Here are some nice examples of SVG pieces sets.
Our first sketches are attached to the post.
> 30 ICC pieces sets in one package can be download from here. That's 4 Mb.
From the ICC sets I personally like number 4 and 9 best - they are simple and aesthetic at the same time. (Though aesthetics always lies in the eye of the beholder, I guess ... ;-))
Of course the best solution is that the Rybka GUI comes with pieces we all already love, and I think there's a consensus about liking the ICC09.jpg pieces.
I also would recommend to get rid of all the other ugly ones that nobody is going to use (The other day I tried to play chess with such funny pieces, and my performance dropped significantly[*]), if we're going to have 30 piece sets, let all of them be good and usable.
[*] Am I the only one that thinks that most of the 3D piece sets that come with Chessmaster 10 are useless?
> 1. We are NOT considering 3D board and pictures (I mean real 3D, with board rotating and piece models) for now.
Although I understand that 3D board and pieces may have some appeal in an aesthetic sense I never used these views in other GUIs and, frankly, do not see any real use in them. But then, it's a feature that might appeal to many users/customers and, thus, increase the popularity of the interface. And those of us who don't need it can easily choose a simple 2D view.
> 4. I wonder how much different piece sets is necessary for the GUI? ICC, for example, has at least 30, but I think this is too much.
Are you sure there can be too many TOO MANY piece sets? ;-) Seriously, 30 should be more than enough. It would be great to use a file format for pieces and board which enables "computer guru users" to custom-create there own sets and share them here in the forum, if they like. (Sorry, I do not know much about programming etc. - maybe the intended SVG format just offers this.)
That's why I use the Fritz 5 colour scheme with Fritz and I'm using it as well with BabasChess (FICS)
Black squares: RGB=167, 126, 92
White squares: RGB=231, 208,167
I don't like the margins on the chess boards (or at least I want to be able to set it to "0")
I don't like the coordinates (who use that anyway?)
For the pieces I like Fritz set as well or set nb 9 on the ICC images
> 3. The pieces will be in the vector format, most probably it will be SVG.
Does that mean that the pieces will be able to use basic vector effects like feathering, transparency, gradient and Bevel?, if so, the pieces shown look sort of dull, and I think I'd want to see more normal looking ones.
> We do not ask you to work on us for free and create new pieces sets
Still, the idea of allowing us to create our own piece sets and share them sounds the best :)
> allowing us to create our own piece sets and share them sounds the best
SVG allows you to do that. The advantage of SVG (and vector format in general) over bitmap images is that a well designed SVG pieceset can be automatically scaled both up and down without loss of quality.
There are free tools available that allow you to design your own piece sets. Inkscape is one of them. Inkscape is available for Windows, Linux and OSX. An example of showing off some of the features of Inkscape: Photorealistic car. There is a book available online which contains a good introduction and exercises for new users: A Guide to Inkscape. Here are some of the features of Inkscape:
"Supported SVG features include shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, patterns, and grouping. Inkscape also supports Creative Commons meta-data, node editing, layers, complex path operations, bitmap tracing, text-on-path, flowed text, direct XML editing, and more. It imports formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and others and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats."
I don't know if the first version of the Rybka GUI will support all these features.
You should definitely check out the link that Zruty gave above for some examples of SVG piece sets. I have included one of the examples below.
Another example of a very nice and free SVG piece set: Wikipedia: Table chess pieces. I scaled the white king to 350x350 px to demonstrate how smooth the pieces are even at large sizes (see image below). This would not be possible with bitmap pieces. However, since Inkscape supports bitmap tracing, it can be used to convert bitmap pieces to SVG format.
There are thousands of free SVG images available that might be worth looking at to see what possibilities SVG offers: Wikimedia Commons: SVG. There are also 18000 SVG images available at the Open Clip Art Library (currently off-line due to server move).
This image is based on turbojuice1122's idea of having crossbones at the end of blunders, and based on your new diagram. Everything is a vector, so I see no problem in implementing something like this:
(I didn't include some things I didn't understand, like having geometrical figures over the pieces, or ghost arrows around the board)
1. I'm glad the carets idea is being considered :)
2. I think we're suffering from a "Too much arrows" problem, but I know these are just examples and that the board won't be overloaded.
3. The curved arrows only work for knights, because they jump over the pieces, but it looks awkward coming from bishops, rooks or the queen, because they do straight moves.
4. Too much color causes confusion (What do the blue arrows mean? etc.)
5. I hope the ghost pieces idea is still around.
6. I like pieces with thick borders, as the thin borders of shown SVGs don't cut the cake for me.
7. I don't know if this is going to be something the user has to draw manually on the board or if the GUI is going to draw it based on Rybka's evaluation.
Crossbone is a good idea and will be implemented. Really any image can be placed on the board.
1. :) thank you for idea. Shadows will be considered two.
2. Surely it is sample.
3. I think we will not disable them specially. Anyway it is not the time to discuss this just now. As well we will try dotted and bi-directional arrows.
4. It is sample
5. Ghosts are in the plans (most probably it will be additional set to show them)
6. Thanks, it will be considered later
7. I don't think a user should draw something, but I think it will be possible to change standard markers and images with own SVG-images.
at the same time! Personally I prefer this theme without shadows - and be careful with the colour of the black
squares. In the example above black pieces on the black squares are simply creating too much darkness.
Some years ago I worked quite a lot with creating chess pieces from different fonts - like condial, merida, adventurer etc.
The work was manually with .bmp:s of course - mainly for Chess Tiger. This is like the return of an old hobby...;-)
> This is like the return of an old hobby...;-)
Except that this is possibly much more rewarding (and addictive :)) than bitmap hacking. You just need one good conversion and then you have perfect resolution at all sizes!
I did a quick and dirty experiment with conversion of Merida to SVG and it seems that it's easy to get very good looking SVG pieces.
I used these two tools:
1) FontCreator 5.5
2) Inkscape 0.45.1
Here are the steps needed for converting to SVG:
1) Open the font in FontCreator. Since it is probably a symbol font you can't use it directly in Inkscape. Select all the glyphs and copy them (Ctrl+A and Ctrl+C). Create a new font (File > New) and paste the glyphs into the new font. Then save it. Note the keyboard mapping for the white/black pieces on a white square so you know how to produce the piece images in the font. Install the new font (Font > Install).
2) Start Inkscape. Select the font tool and then the font you just created. Type in the letter for one of the pieces. Select Path > Object to path. Open the document properties (File > Document Properties) and select the appropriate page size. It should be the same for all the pieces and the width (in pixels) should be equal to the height. Make sure that there is some space between the piece and the edge of the page (the page will map to a square on the board). After you have set the page size you can use the align and distribute tool (Object > Align and Distribute) to align the piece on the page (square).
3) Repeate 2) for all other pieces.
In 2) I like to simplify the path that is generated. For that use Path > Simplify. Before you do that you might want to open Inkscape Preferences (under the File menu), select Misc and reduce the Simplification threshold. I set it to 0,0005 for my experiment. After that (if you really like working in Inkscape!) you can tune the piece manually (replace circle-like shapes with real circles/ellipses, reduce the number of nodes even further, etc. etc.) or even make a new piece by tracing the old one using the Line/Bezier tool!
... well, these sets and board designs are obviously a matter of taste ...
I totally agree with you that 3D boards should have no priority - I never used them in other GUIs.
I consider 3D to be just a gimmick.
Based on your 'sketches' I would prefer the 3rd but honestly speaking none of those three really 'lights my fire'.
Regarding the link to Wikipedia piece sets: I like the 1st - this is quite good although not great. All other piece
sets there just try to be funny and I would not use them.
I would not think that a GUI needs to provide more than e.g. 4 piece sets of convincing quality,
especially if an open format is used.
> 1. We are NOT considering 3D board and pictures
No, definitely not a top priority.
> 3. The pieces will be in the vector format, most probably it will be SVG.
That's good news :)
> 4. I wonder how much different piece sets is necessary for the GUI?
I think that 8-10 piece sets would be more than enough for the first version. Additionally there are already 8-10 free SVG piece sets available (I assume that they can be used with the Rybka GUI). This would mean that right from the start users could select from 15-20 piece sets. Since you plan on using SVG I think that users will be quick in adding new piece sets.
The basic requirement is that there will be at least 2-3 nice looking traditional diagram piece sets to choose from. The standard piece set in Chess Assistant is a good candidate for such a design. These piece sets should be plain and simple, no pseudo 3D, beveling etc.
For the rest of the piece sets it's OK to use your imagination. I would say that the piece sets that you show in your post fall into this category. They are nice and simple, but not exactly traditional diagram piece sets.
I assume that additional piece sets will be released with later versions of the Rybka GUI.
As for board design I think that you should offer some simple ones: Solid colors for the squares and the border. The user should be able to choose the colors (but a few nice looking standard color combinations should be offered). In addition you may offer some more fancy looking boards (wooden, marble, granite, metal, sky, clouds, water or whatever).
I think pieces as fonts was an exceptional idea at the time (for display, printing, quality and speed), they are less important now, with the possible exception of print publication quality for things like color printing and trapping. Quality SVG libraries should exist on most platforms now, and shouldn't be any more difficult than instrumenting TTF files. However, there are awfully good TTF files out there for chess pieces and it seems like the only reason not to use them, is because chessbase does. I think you should probably look for a win here, like a scripted game publisher that doesn't require any external files that can be copy and pasted into the web and blogs. There is a picture here that shows SVG shadows and it much better than any of the three you show here. Speaking of which, shadows on the pieces is infinitely more important than shadows on the board.
You should also consider for use by many tourney players in the states, to have an exceptionally good green/buff board and pieces.
> However, there are awfully good TTF files out there for chess pieces and it seems like the only reason not to use them, is because chessbase does.
The pieces on the TTF files are already vectors, so my guess is that making them SVGs that can be used in Rybka GUI should be trivial.
As for the "space around the pieces", since we're working with vectors, allowing us to change their size relative to the squares... Should be trivial (Am I repeating myself?!)
The samples from your post was much to fancy for my taste.
I wish the next ChessAssistant will inherit the visuals of the coming Rybka GUI.
If that happens, I will never need Rybka GUI :)
Powered by mwForum 2.27.4 © 1999-2012 Markus Wichitill