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Chess (Variant) Graphics by Jean Louis Cazaux. Icons of chess variant pieces.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
📝Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on Tue, Jul 4, 2006 04:11 PM UTC:
Whatever there are 1 James or 2 James, never mind. This rating doesn't prevent me to sleep don't worry. I haven't done those icons to get a good rating, or even to make a standard. I have done them because I needed them in 1998/99 when I was writting my first book. At the time, we had only the ones made by Hans Bodlander (let him be thanked for his pionnering work). Later, I thought it was a good idea to share. No one is forced to use them. Improving them would be a good idea too. So, no problem at all. Sincerely.

James Spratt wrote on Tue, Jul 4, 2006 01:06 PM UTC:
Jean-Louis, je le regret que nous avons levee' du mauvais pied; je ne suis pas la meme 'James' qui a vous votre premier 'Pauvre' donnee'. Sommes bonnes?

James Spratt wrote on Tue, Jul 4, 2006 07:36 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Well, all right, maybe the Editors will let me get away with another
'Excellent' if I point out that I've studied this set with considerable
care in the last couple of days, and noted a few more of its merits, such
a. It is a large, fairly comprehensive set, and an inspirational 
foundation upon which others have built, to great effect
b. Piece-moves and names are clearly described next to icons
c. Icons are all readily distinguishable, if not all readily identifiable
(I finally deduced that the Hunter is a drawn bow and arrow, pointing
upwards, and the heraldic ones must be memorized)
d. I have learned a lot in these exchanges, some of which I'll pass on to
the next thread.
Big Smilie.

📝Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on Mon, Jul 3, 2006 09:05 PM UTC:
Dear all friends
I'm really happy that my mere icons draw so many comments. You are very
Let me say that I also agree with the critics from James. 
I'm not satisfied myself with all the icons and for my own use, I've
been re-drawing many of them. I plan to use them in a project I've
on-going, but one day I'll release them publically.
Also, you might now that I have acclaimed David Howe's Alfaerie design
(look my message on 2005-03-29) as nicer than mine.
An important parameter to take into account is the final size of the icon.
Mine are 32x32 where David's are 50x50. A larger size opens much more
possibility such as softening or more details. 
However, I can not come back easily on my 32x32 because all my zillions
are made accordingly as well as many graphics I use for my writtings. I
find more reasonable now to stick with that, even though it is less
practical. So, when you judge a set you have to think to this very
important, fundamental, constraint.
Saying this, I've just looked at James' designs. Very nice indeed, I
understand better what he meant. Beautifully realistic, it is like cartoon
artwork. I love them, but it is not the kind of pieces I wanted for my
books: I wanted something very sober and very simple. Alfaerie is more in
the category I am looking for.

James Spratt wrote on Mon, Jul 3, 2006 02:19 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
After several days of prompted pondering, I now realize I was holding these
icons to a standard of representational accuracy, which only applies here
in small measure, but which has ever been a critical concern with my own
artwork.  Without going into human recognition patterns and windows of art
imprinting, I'm content with the fact that others like them well enough to
so pointedly reject my critique and provoke my further education in what
makes a piece-set good. 
Magritte, thanks for the lesson.  Jean-Louis, maybe the Editors will let
me make it up to you with a better rating, which maybe I ought to do twice
to get the average up.

James Spratt wrote on Sat, Jul 1, 2006 10:09 AM UTC:
Bonjour, Magritte.  I believe you are misreading me.  I was not lecturing
M. Cazaux, who I have no real reason to believe is reading this anyway,
and who I will readily admit probably knows more about chessvariants than
I, but who I will not readily admit knows more about art than I ( ), nor was I making any comparison between his icons and
mine.  I have never said that my Jetan icons were any standard of
excellence, either; those particular icons are patterned after real
sculpted pieces four to six inches tall, and I'll be the first to admit
that they are a bit difficult to distinguish at 60 pixels if you are not
an ERB Mars fan who already knows something about them.
My comments were intended to be helpful, based on decades of hard-won
experience, and no reflection on M. Cazaux, whom I note that you are not,
and who is probably a very nice guy who could polish his icons a bit.

Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on Sat, Jun 24, 2006 05:36 PM UTC:
i think if these graphics are not to your taste, then they will seem very
basic ... they have to be viewed on the right type of board, like
'', you can see most, 7 zrf's.
i did at first think these graphics were a little 'down-played', but now
i think they are actually quite beautiful and unique.

🕸Fergus Duniho wrote on Sat, Jun 24, 2006 04:48 PM UTC:
Yes, the value of function cannot be underestimated. It is very important to be able to tell pieces apart from each other, and when all the pieces look like people in similar clothing, as James Spratt's pieces generally do, it can be hard to tell the pieces apart. My own preference is for something more abstract, because that makes it easier to tell different pieces apart. But I do consider function and beauty to both be important, and I like to see both in a piece set.

Magritte wrote on Sat, Jun 24, 2006 04:08 PM UTC:
I look at Spratt's Jetan and I cannot tell one piece from another without close examination. He puts 'art' before function and ends up with not much of either. (Perhaps his full-sized pieces are beautiful, but we are discussing his attitude toward Zillions graphics here.) I have no problems understanding games made with Cazaux's graphics. Spratt assumes that his almost unplayable icons are a standard of excellence, and proceeds to lecture Cazaux, which is why I found his comments pointless and arrogant.

🕸Fergus Duniho wrote on Sat, Jun 24, 2006 03:42 PM UTC:Good ★★★★
I would not be so quick to call James Spratt's comments arrogant. He is an artist who designs detailed figurine Chess variant pieces, and he is speaking mainly from his own experience. We should expect artists to have strong opinions about art and the artistic process. I agree with him concerning the artistic merits of these pieces, but I also understand that sometimes pieces are made from necessity by people who are not really artistically inclined, and I think that's the case here. These images were designed for Cazaux's book on Chess variants, and they are a step above the usual practice of using sideways and upsidedown pieces for fairy pieces. Although these pieces don't hold any strong aesthetic appeal for me, they are at least functional, and that may be all that Cazaux was going for.

Magritte wrote on Sat, Jun 24, 2006 02:07 PM UTC:Good ★★★★
I like the graphics. Mr. Spratt's arrogant comments are a good example of what has gone wrong with these pages recently. ONE best way of representing anything?? Absurd.

James Spratt wrote on Sat, Jun 24, 2006 09:13 AM UTC:
Ha-ha! Well, all right, Stephen, if you say so; but regarding art from the past--I think 'Mona Lisa' is awfully darn' homely--I mean, LOOK at her--, and 'Pieta' has Mama at 7 foot 8 inches to Sonny's 5 foot 6 or so, so Jean-Louis isn't the only arteeste who could have done it better. (I'm not saying a word about some of the things that I did that I wouldn't mind doing again better, either. Hopefully we grow as we go, so, M. Cazaux, ou etes vous? (Peut-etre il est mon malodoreuse francais? Ou que j'ai votre nom misecrivee dans l'article a erbzine? Pardon, je sais c'est tres tard, mais je le fixerai toutes de suite!)

Stephen Stockman wrote on Sat, Jun 24, 2006 08:17 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Please Note this page was created way back at the turn of the Century. Now many awesome designs for new pieces are available and being used. I find this page interesting as an archive of how things used to be

James Spratt wrote on Sat, Jun 24, 2006 07:29 AM UTC:Poor ★
I think these graphics need more work; they don't look like much effort
went into them.  One must remember, when doing artwork, that there are 100
ways to portray anything, 3 good ways, and ONE best way, which very few
artists are able to achieve on the first effort.  I'd suggest drawing
several versions, walking away for a few days between efforts, then coming
back to appraise them with a fresh eye, at which point improvements will be
obvious.  There's no point in hurrying something that might be around
A player's connection to a game is via the icons; a good game deserves
good icons.

Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on Sat, Jun 24, 2006 01:54 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
great graphics, much better than the 'average' rating it has at the moment, maybe this will get it going

Andy Thomas wrote on Sat, Apr 15, 2006 10:39 PM UTC:Good ★★★★
i like these pieces... 

i like how the pieces sort of illustrate the moves in some cases, such as
the hunter/falcon... you can kind of tell how they move by their
respective designs... this is always a great bonus in piece design, in my

btw, you can add 'colonel' to the castle/squirrel definition if you
want... the 'colonel' in american chess moves exactly like the
castle/squirrel... just a thought...

📝Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on Sat, Apr 15, 2006 05:46 PM UTC:
Dear anonymous reader, it would be useful to know which names you consider wrong. I could maybe explain my choice and have a chance to get better than a 'poor'. Nothing is right or wrong in this field, caution should be the rule.

Anonymous wrote on Fri, Apr 14, 2006 02:54 PM UTC:Poor ★
Good piece choices some of the names are wrong though. I would rate it as slighty higher than poor though. No offonce

cow head wrote on Wed, Nov 19, 2003 07:02 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

Phil Brady wrote on Sun, Feb 2, 2003 09:36 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
I can't leave this page with a poor rating.... :)

📝Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on Sun, Feb 2, 2003 05:10 PM UTC:
Bad yourself dear James !
This page is a catalog of gif, not a manual of strategy, I wonder how come
you misunderstood ?

James wrote on Sun, Feb 2, 2003 04:24 PM UTC:Poor ★
badbadbad does not even tell u different strategies.

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