William Paterson Art Studio Major Creates Unique Chess Set 

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Montesano


By Steve Sears

Roxbury’s Nick Montesano, when tasked with coming up with an idea for a board game in his William Paterson University screen design class, created something unique: a COVID19 chess game.

“Our professor tasked us to create our own chess set that we had in 3D design in this program called Maya,” explains Montesano, “We had to 3D-model it first, then it had the pieces that we made that were printed out, and then we had to physically build the chess set, along with the pieces that were 3D printed.”

Montesano, 18, came up with three ideas that had to be “personal” to him; something that he was interested in. “I sketched out three different ideas,” he says. “I started off thinking about the world’s tallest buildings, because architecture I find interesting even though I don’t want to do it for a career. So, I chose the world’s tallest buildings, and I also chose iconic cartoon characters. I wasn’t really that high on those ideas because they’re kind of classic and everybody knew about them. So, I said, ‘Okay, I need one more idea,’  because we had to have three different chess set-inspired ideas.” At first, the third idea escaped him, until he thought about the current pandemic. “So, I was like, ‘Okay, I can do something pandemic inspired,’ and I came up with the important stuff that we need during the pandemic to quarantine – toilet paper, masks, food, water, hand sanitizer, Lysol spray – all the important stuff that we need to fight the pandemic.” Montesano used these inspirations for the pieces of the chess set, and had the actual board set up like an actual first aid kit. He also, in the red and white squares on the board, placed red and white social distancing stickers.

The entire project took up a third of the Art Studio major’s first freshman semester. “Actually building the board itself with the wood and the paints took about two weeks’ time,” he says, “and then modeling the pieces took four to five weeks because it was like trial and error – I had to print them out, a few trial pieces, to make sure that the dimensions were good – and then fully printing out all 32 pieces took about a week’s worth of time because I had to submit them to the school’s 3d printer.” Montesano then modeled them in Maya 3D, which took an additional three to four weeks.

The reception from his professor and fellow classmates was positive. “Every week or so on Thursday, we would update the class on what we were working on; they would always use the work in progress. I had a rendering of the pieces and building of the set. Nobody was really super interested in it until I actually finished the project, because it was a  work in progress during those nine weeks. After I finally finished it and everybody saw it in all its glory, they were actually interested. Seeing step by step isn’t totally interesting compared to seeing the final product for most  people. But for me, it was interesting the entire way, because I had to go through it from three different ways: modeling the pieces, printing them out, and building the board.”

Industrial design is in Montesano’s future, and he wants to do it for a specific niche which may not surprise people: the medical field. “I do like making an impact on people, like the less fortunate that suffer from underlying health conditions and diseases.”

Visit Montesano’s website, www.Nicholasmontesano.com, to view other projects he is working on.

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