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Chess on Stamps :: Strategy and tactics for graphic design by Michael Kroeger

strategy, n. [Gr. strategia, generalship, from strategos, general.]
1. the science of planning and directing large-scale military operations, specifically (as distinguished from tactics), of maneuvering forces into the most advantageous position prior to actual engagement with the enemy.
3. skill in managing or planning, especially by using stratagem.

tactics, n. [Gr. (ta) taktika, lit., (the) matters of arrangement, from taktikos, fit for arranging, from tassein, to arrange.]
1. the science and art of disposing military and navel forces in action or before the enemy.
2. actions in accord with this science; hence, any skillful management for effecting a desired result; adroit devices for gaining an end.
Syn.- strategy, policy, diplomacy.

Part 01
Analysis & research.
Part 02
Design a set of chess units (pieces and pawn).
Learn the history of chess.
Learn the basic moves and strategy of chess.
Study chess language.
Part 03
Execute final color project for the chess series.

We approach this chess project from two directions. The first part is the black and white form description. Design each piece and pawn on 8.5 x 11" plaka board. The size and position is to be determined. The second part is the color investigation that will be applied to the chess project. We will primarily use wet color (designers gouache) this semester, however, some sketching will be done in color paper.

Form development, concept clarification, and color theory are the overall goals of the first half of the semester. This project is due at mid-term review (12-13 March 1997). Good luck.



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<--- Frontier Line

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Queenside - - - - - - - - - - | - - - - - - - - Kingside

This graphic design consists
of a four stamp cluster and
a full size color version.
The cluster should have:
a) black/white composition
b) a gray scale composition
c) a two color version
d) and a five color design.

Ranks - horizontal rows

Files - vertical columns

Relative value of pieces:
King = 4 pawns; Queen = 9; Bishop = 3; Knight = 3; Rook = 5.

The chess stamp sketches above where made with a 2B pencil. The theme is a bishop and a rook.

The cluster, stamp size and layout is described on a separate handout sheet.

Investigate chess at the library or bookstore, and make xerox copies of the specific subject for analysis and your notes.

Your research is very important to your development as a designer. It is essential that this phase is thoroughly explored before you begin. This process insures that your layout, design, and production will be unique.

The theme of the stamp design is the chess motif that you developed in the black and white studies. Use your best chess pieces on the final color design.

Begin your sketching process with color paper as we did in the first semester. This is an efficient way to begin the design process.

Search for a chess piece or pieces that work best for you. Design a single stamp and a stamp cluster of four. Present the final designs on bristol board or similar material with designers gouache.

a) Image identification
b) Form recognition
c) Hand skill development
d) Content control
e) Visual expression
f) Communication
g) Problem solving

Explore different possibilities for your design. Incorporate the ideas from your search and that it is a stamp design. The idea that your design becomes smaller than your original artwork is something that you should consider. Another objective is to become as professional as you can with your presentation, attitude, and work habits.

Use all pieces. Move only center pawns. Aim to develop a different piece on each turn. Move out minor pieces quickly. Castle early. Don't move the same piece repeatedly. Develop with threats.

The Center:
Play for it. Occupy, guard and influence.
Drive away enemy pieces that control it.

Always begin with white square in right corner.
White always moves first, and always on a1 side.
Queen always begins on her own color.

Standard Staunton pieces in inches:
Unit Height Base
King 3.75 1.5
Queen 3.50 1.5
Bishop 2.75 1.5
Rook 2.50 1.5
Knight 2.375 1.375
Pawn 1.875 1.0

Square ratio::
Standard proportion
Square = 1.5 x the base of King or rook laid on side almost fits in the square.

Pandolfini's Chess Complete
Bruce Pandolfini, A Fireside Book
Published by Simon & Schuster, p. 218

Type Sign Symbol
Adrian Frutiger

Trademarks & Symbols of the World 2
Y. Kuwayama

The Postal Service Guide
to U.S. Stamps, 17th Edition

Designing Corporate Symbols
David E.Carter

Signs and Symbols, Their Design and Meaning
Adrian Frutiger

Armin Hofmann, His Work, Quest and Philosophy
Armin Hofmann

Symbols, Signs & Signets
Ernst Lehner

Stamp Collecting Words and Phrases
Accessories - The tools used by stamp collectors, such as tongs, hinges, etc.
Adhesive - A gummed stamp made to be attached to mail.
Aerophilately - Branch of collecting airmail stamps and covers and their usage.
Album - A book designed to hold stamps and covers.
Approvals - Stamps sent by a dealer to a collector for examination. Approvals must either be brought or returned to the dealer within a specified time.
Auction - A sale at which philatelic material is sold to the hightest bidder.
Block - An unseparated group of stamps, at least two stamps high and two stamps wide.
Booklet Pane - A small sheet of stamps specially cut to be sold in booklets.
Bourse - A marketplace, such as a stamp exhibition, where stamps are bought, sold or exchanged.
Bluish Paper - Used to print portions of several issues in 1909; the paper was made with 35 percent rag stock instead of all wood pulp. The color goes through the paper, showing clearly on back and face.
Cachet (ka-shay') - A design on an envelope describing an event. Cachets appear on first day of issue, first flight and stamp exhibition covers, etc.
Cancellation - A mark placed on a stamp by a postal authority to show that it has been used.
Centering - The position of the design on a postage stamp. On perfectly centered stamps the design isexactly in the middle.
Coils - Stamps issued in rolls (one stamp wide) for use in dispensers or vending machines.
Commemoratives - Stamps that honor anniversaries, important people or special events.
Condition - The state of a stamp in regard to such details as centering, color and gum.
Cover - An envelope that has been sent through the mail.
Definitives - Regular issues of postage stamps, usually sold over long periods of time.
Deltiology - Postcard collecting.
Denomination - The postage value appearing on a stamp, such as 5 cents.
Dry Printing - Begun as an experiment in 1953, this type of printing results in a whiter paper, a higher sheen on the surface, a thicker and stiffer feel and designs that stand out more clearly than on more standard 'wet' printings.
Duplicates - Extra copies of stamps that can be sold or traded. Duplicates should be examined carefully for color and perforation variations.
Error - A stamp with something incorrect in its design or manufacture.
Face Value - The monetary value or denomination of a stamp.
First Day Cover (FDC) - An envelope with a new stamp and cancellation showing the date the stamp was issued.
Gum - The coating of glue on the back of an unused stamp.
Hinges - Small strips of gummed material used by collectors to affix stamps to album pages.
Imperforate - Indicates stamps without perforations or separating holes. They usually are separated by scissors and collected pairs.
Labels - Any stamp-like adhesive that is not a postage stamp.
Laid Paper - When held to the light, the paper shows alternate light and dark crossed lines.
Line Pairs (LPs) - Most coil stamp rolls prior to #1891 feature a line of ink printed between two stamps at varying intervals.
Maximum Card - A postcard that has an illustration, stamp and cancel with a common theme.
Miniature Sheet - A single stamp or block of stamps with a margin on all sides bearing some special wording or design.
Mint - Indicates a stamp in the same condition as when it was issued.
Overprint - Additional printing on a stamp that was not part of the original design.
Pane - A full 'sheet' of stamps as sold by a Post Office. Four panes make up the original sheet of stamps as printed.
Perforations - Lines of small holes or cuts between rows of stamps that make them easy to separate.
Philately - The collection and study of postage stamps and other postal materials.
Plate Block (or Plate Number Block) (PB) - A block of stamps with the margin attached that bears the plate number used in printing that sheet.
Plate Number Coils (PNC) - For most coil stamp rolls beginning with #1891, a small plate number appears at varying intervals in the roll in the design of the stamp.
Postage Due - A stamp issued to collect unpaid postage.
Postal Stationery - Envelopes, postal cards and aerogrammes with stamp designs printed or embossed on them.
Postmark - A mark put on envelopes or other mailing pieces showing the date and location of the post office where it was mailed.
Postmaster Provisionals - Stamps made by local postmasters before the government began issuing stamps.
Precancels - Cancellations applied to stamps before the stamps were affixed to mail.
Reissue - An official reprinting of a stamp that was no longer being printed.
Revenue Stamps - Stamps not valid for postal use but issued for collecting taxes.
Selvage - The unprinted paper around panes of stamps, sometimes called the margin.
Se-tenant - An attached pair, strip or block of stamps that differ in design, value or surcharge.
Surcharge - An overprint that changes the denomination of a stamp from its original face value.
Tagging - Chemical marking applied to stamps so they can be 'read' by mail-sorting machines.
Tied On - Indicates a stamp whose postmark touches the envelope.
Tongs - A tool, used to handle stamps, that resembles a tweezers with rounded or flattened tips.
Topicals - Indicates a group of stamps with the same theme -- space travel, for example.
Unused - The condition of a stamp that has no cancellation or other sign of use.
Used - The condition of a stamp that has been canceled.
Want List - A list of philatelic material needed by a collector.
Watermark - A design pressed into stamp paper during its manufacture.
Wet Printing - Has a moisture content of 15-35 percent, compared to 5-10 percent for 'dry' printing, and has a duller look than 'dry' printing.
Wove Paper - A uniform paper which, when held to the light, shows no light or dark figures.

Link to ::
Chess on Stamps by Colin Rose ::
Chess on Stamps by Steve Trussel ::
United States Postal Service ::

Copyright © 1997--2002 MK Graphic Design. All rights reserved. No portion of this document may be copied, reproduced, or electronically reused without written permission from Michael Kroeger at MK Graphic Design. (10.28.97 -- revised: 11/28/02)