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A catalog of 3D-printable chess variant pieces

This is the story of a dream coming true after many years. Chess variants are nice to play on a screen with a keyboard or a mouse, but playing sometimes with real physical pieces is a real pleasure. In recent years some pieces have been made commercially available, but the choice is limited, not always satisfactory and the pieces are not easy to find.

In this respect, 3D-printing is a real revolution. This technique opens the door of a new universe. It is not very difficult to make your own design. There are many useful tools on the Internet.

Some tips about 3D-printing

The best tool to start with, and also to continue after, is undoubtly Tinkercad. This tool has been developped for school pupils. It is rather simple to master and the learning curve is small. With Tinkercad it is possible to manipulate simple shapes, cut them, modify them, assemble them, etc. For example you can import the .stl file of the Lion presented below, cut its head and replaced it by something else. Imagine you have found the .stl of a bust of Julius Caesar, you can adjust its dimensions and then place that bust on the topless ex-Lion. And you have made a chess piece representing Julius Caesar!

There are several places where you may find .stl files. Some sites are free, some are not. A nice and rich free site is Thingiverse. It is also on Thingiverse that you may find all .stl of the pieces presented here, on this page!

For more complex transformations, a powerful tool is Meshmixer. A bit tricky to use but very useful when you can master it.

I may also recommend Blender. I love using it to make nice images of the 3D pieces I have designed (imported as .stl again).

The link below will bring you to my page on Thingiverse were you will be able to download all the .stl files which correspond to all the pieces I have designed. Those .stl files can be read by most 3D printers.

The address is there:

The size (height and base diameter) of the pieces is carefully chosen to respect a certain coherence. However, it is easy to modify those parameters before printing, for example if you want bigger or smaller pieces with a tool such as Tinkercad.

You may dislike one or more of these pieces. This is not a problem. Remember, I offer these designs to you. It is my gift to the chess variant community. They are free. Have fun.

The standard pieces

Most chessvariant set must include the standard FIDE pieces as well: King, Queen, Rook, Bishop, Knight and Pawn. Here the classical Staunton design is used.


h=83mm, D=33mm


h=69mm, D=33mm


h=47mm, D=28mm


h=60mm, D=28mm


h=52mm, D=28mm


h=42mm, D=24mm

The basic atoms





h=45mm, D=25mm h=45mm, D=25mm h=45mm, D=25mm h=48mm, D=25mm

The design is inspired by the shape of the historic pieces. The Ferz and the Alfil have the shape of the ancient Muslim corresponding pieces, a shape of throne for the Ferz, and a shape with two protuberances (supposed to be the tusk of the "al fil", the elephant).

The Dabbaba recalls an inkstand as reported in some historic sources.

The shape of Wazir shows a + when seen from the top, reminding of the move associated to this piece.

The pieces for Shako and Metamachy





h=70mm, D=33mm h=59mm, D=28mm h=62mm, D=28mm h=60mm, D=28mm



h=69mm, D=33mm h=69mm, D=33mm

The Elephant is made massive despite its move is comparable to the Knight, but an elephant is really massive, no?

The Eagle is also known as Gryphon for many chess variants. I may also design a true Gryphon as an alternative in the future.

The Lion and the Eagle are designed with comparable size to the Queen as these three pieces have a comparable strength in Metamachy.

Pieces for the Zanzibar family

(War) Machine




h=55mm, D=28mm h=54mm, D=28mm h=75mm, D=33mm h=47mm, D=24mm





h=59mm, D=33mm h=69mm, D=33mm h=67mm, D=33mm h=69mm, D=33mm

The Machine has an abstract design evoking a siege engine.

The Archer is also known as Vao for chess variants. It is often represented as a bow, a crossbow or simply an arrow.

The Giraffe is also known as Zebra for many chess variants. I was reluctant to design a Zebra due the unavoidable resemblance with a Knight in the context of unicolor chess pieces. The solution with engraved stripes has not been judged efficient enough for a clear distinction.

The Soldier is an improved Pawn. This is evoked by the shape of this piece.

The Rhinoceros is also called Manticore on the Chess Variant Pages. Sometimes it is called Aanca but this is a STRONG MISTAKE. Don't call it that way, the Aanca is the Gryphon. If you do, I won't talk to you anymore.

The Buffalo is represented as a massive bovine piece.

The Sorceress is also known as Leo by the problemists but we already have a Lion. Feminine as the Queen and the Duchess, it radiates on 8-direction as the star on its hat.

Pieces for Very Heavy Chess





h=83mm, D=33mm h=68mm, D=33mm h=67mm, D=33mm h=69mm, D=33mm





h=67mm, D=33mm h=66mm, D=33mm h=80mm, D=33mm h=80mm, D=33mm

The Amazon is as tall as a King. I simply adopted a "compound" design of Knight and Queen which is most popular form given to this piece by other creators.

The Marshall and Cardinal are inspired by the very nice "Camaratta" designs, which are sold by different vendors on the Internet. It is not exactly the same design though.

The Centaur ambitions to represent this difficult piece. A Centaur is a mythic creature with a human head, arms and chest on a horse's trunk and legs. Then, this piece has the bottom of a Knight, covered by a warrior's helmet.

The Admiral, or Sailor, shows a rudder.

The Popess is a triple compound, a crowned Cardinal. The name of Abbess has also been proposed for this piece.


Some will prefer physical designs that insist on the compound nature of these pieces, as I have done with the Amazon. Here are those alternative designs.

The Marshall is also known as Chancellor, a Rook-Knight compound.

The Cardinal is also known as Archbishop, a Bishop-Knight compound.

The Centaur is a compound of Knight and (non-royal) King.

The Admiral is a compound of Rook and Ferz, or more simply a crowned Rook.

The Missionary is a compound of Bishop and Wazir, or more simply a crowned Bishop.

The Admiral and Missionary are also found in Japanese shogi where they are respectively called Dragon King and Dragon Horse. There, they appear as the promoted forms of the Rook and the Bishop. Hence the other alternative representation of an enhanced Rook and an enhanced Bishop.



Crowned Rook

Crowned Bishop

h=68mm, D=33mm h=67mm, D=33mm h=68mm, D=33mm h=69mm, D=33mm

Crowned Knight

Dragon King

Dragon Horse


h=62mm, D=28mm h=66mm, D=33mm h=66mm, D=33mm h=62mm, D=28mm

Pieces for Fantastic XIII





h=47mm, D=28mm h=65mm, D=33mm h=66mm, D=28mm h=47mm, D=28mm





h=61mm, D=28mm h=62mm, D=28mm h=61mm, D=28mm h=70mm, D=33mm

The Troll is represented with an axe.

For the Mammoth an abstract design has been preferred in other to avoid any confusion with the Elephant. This design insists on the hump and the long tusks of the prehistoric pachyderm.

Similarly for the Hawk, the design focuses on the wings only in order to contrats with the Eagle.

The Direwolf is a massive piece to reflect its powerful strength on the board.

Pieces for Patchanka





h=71mm, D=28mm h=58mm, D=33mm h=65mm, D=28mm h=57mm, D=28mm





h=65mm, D=33mm h=65mm, D=33mm h=65mm, D=33mm h=75mm, D=33mm

The Phoenix comes from shogi variants where it represents a Chinese mythical animal, the fenghuang. Its common representation is not that of a prey bird like in the Greek mythology but of a bird with elements of roaster and pheasant. It is an elegant piece.

Similarly the Kirin is the qilin, a sort of Chinese dragon. It is not a powerful piece on the boad.

I have chosen a Ram to represent the compound of Rook and Alfil, RA. Alternatives could have been rat, racoon, rabbit. But I like Ram better as this piece may penetrate the enemy ranks with force, even though a ram may also represent different pieces, such as the Advancer in Ultima.

To represent the compound of Bishop and Dabbaba, BD, I have chosen the Badger.

The Wildebeest has been one of the most difficult design I had to do.

I have chosen to call Medusa the compound of Ram and Badger, which is the same than Queen and Mammoth. A mighty piece.

More pieces



h=54mm, D=28mm h=70mm, D=33mm

I once used the Crocodile for the "diagonal Cannon" for which I prefer to use the Archer now. However, the piece is available.

The Cerberus is a "tripple barrel", maybe a too powerful piece to play on-board.


Designing  is good. Printing is better as several unexpected issues may appear.

Glow in the dark!


This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Jean-Louis Cazaux.

Last revised by Jean-Louis Cazaux.

Web page created: 2024-03-25. Web page last updated: 2024-03-31