Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Creating a Themed Chess Box Video

The point of this video was to inspire you, if you want to do something new, not to give up. Try, try again until you get it. I hope that came through. If not, watch it again, and keep saying "I can succeed if I keep trying."

It should be mentioned that, at size, this chess set is hard to actually play with, especially if you suffer from a condition I like to call "big meat hands". It's possible to fix this if you scale everything up by 150%, but that has a huge impact on print time, not to mention making the case impossible to print on a mini. However, that is the only part that won't print on a mini, so maybe borrow some time on a bigger printer.

The topic of laser cutters vs 3D printer is one that I defiantly want to make a whole video about, so I'l save that discussion until then.

I considered a 3D printed chess board for this set, but it never really materialized in my head. But when I got access to a laser cutter, suddenly things picked up and I had a ton of great ideas. In the process of making the laser cut chess boards, my initial idea was to have the white square be a masked picture of the original TARDIS control room (very white), and a picture of the latest TARDIS control room (very dark) mapped to the black squares. That turned out very confusing to look at. So I tried with the old interior on the dark squares on one half, and the new interior to the dark squares on the other half. That helped a little in black and white, but after etching it in acrylic, well, let's just say that motivate me to take things in a different direction.

I decided I needed something more simple. I went out looking for TARDIS wallpapers that were mostly dark and with few details so that something might survive the etching process. I found one on Deviant art that felt promising, tried it out, and it worked great. Getting it to work in acrylic had a bit of a learning curve, since with acrylic you're almost etching in white so the image has to be etched functionally in negative, but any areas of solid etching was causing trouble with the acrylic that I was using because in order to get the white to appear on it I needed to keep the plastic covering on. I understand now that this is not the case for all acrylic and is instead something that I had to endure necessarily if I had just gotten some better acrylic. Nevertheless, I managed to make it work on both wood and the acrylic I had and I was pretty happy with it.

What I didn't like, though, was that I was relying on someone else's artwork for my project. Never mind that this whole thing is one big IP violation, I didn't need copyright mucking things up too. So I decided I needed to make my own TARDIS wallpaper in a similar style. Infact, to keep copyright at bay, I didn't even want to use an existing TARDIS 3D model for the render. So I started with the TARDIS model I was using as a rook in the chess set, straightened the sides out and cracked the door a bit (a little features I've been adding to my TARDISes for a long time), and used that to create a render of the TARDIS. Making renders and making 3D models are two different skills, and I still have a lot to learn about texturing and rendering in Blender. However, I recently learned about shadeless textures, which, with the skills I already had with texturing, allowed me to make a pretty sweet two tone render of my TARDIS model. Then I took it into photoshop, put that on a starry background, added a sun to highlight the edges of the black-on-black TARDIS, and the result, I think, was pretty sweet.
Click for full size suitable for wallpapering

It's still retained some of the whimsy of the source model, which I feel will make it match better with the pieces in the set. It's certainly not accurate to the TARDIS in the show. It's more of a parody of the shape of the TARDIS. That probably won't save me should the IP police come knocking, but the BBC has been pretty cool about not coming down on fan art.
I am planning selling these on my Etsy store, which brings the conversation to the topic of my blatant disregard of IP, especially in matters of Doctor Who. This has come up in the past. How do I justify selling unlicensed merchandise based on someone else's IP? This is not a topic I'm ever going to do a video on because, honestly, I have no defense. Legally I'm in the wrong here, and no defense about building their brand, or giving it my own spin, or anything can justify the fact that should the BBC decide to, I would have no recourse. I am currently afloat in what feels like a safe harbor, sailing along side so many others next to the big ship BBC. It's quite a party in these waters. But it's just an illusion. At any moment, that big ship could unload their cannons on us.

With that in mind, I should probably remove the trademarked logos from either side of the chess board. Original artwork of police boxes and cartoony 3D characters are one thing, but logo is probably less defensible. I will miss them.

Oh, and CCTree, thanks for the filament. Check them out on Amazon:

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