Behind the Shapes #2: Once upon a Tile...
Plenty of you have asked how exactly the puzzle tiles are constructed, and that’s what we’ll show you in this part of Behind the Shapes. We hope you’ll like this update, it’s a real juicy! It even has a cookbook inside – not even kidding (and it's a unique one)!
Once upon a tile, a very long time ago, there was Adam drawing shapes on paper with a marker, designing what will eventually become the puzzle tiles of Project L as you know them now.
The shape and design of the puzzles came a long way since that initial variant, the glimpses of which you could see in Behind the Shapes #1 (Update #3). As you know, Jaroslav (Project L’s product designer) discarded wood in favor of the premium black core. He also proposed adding extra layers to both sides of the black core to further enhance its durability and depth. It was then Pavel’s (the graphic designer) turn to breathe life into them.
And so he did! With an incredible print scheme and technology that perfectly match our aim to make the tiles beautiful, functional, sturdy, and exceptionally pleasing to touch. This was the beginning of what the tiles were to become.
Building triple-layer tiles – a step-by-step cookbook:
- Place the first layer with its Spot UV finish goes on top of the thick, premium blackboard and stir gently. ;)
- Cut out the grid from the top two layers so the pieces can fit inside.
- Add another layer at the bottom and make sure it has Spot UV finish on one side (the back of the tile that shows the big L) and print on the other side (this is the bottom of the recess for pieces).
If you follow these steps, you’ll end up with a durable tile the weight of which you can appreciate in your hand when you manipulate it. Best with pieces, bump-resistance included. Appreciate with all kinds of senses (although only touch and sight is 100% guaranteed). :)
Delicious? Certainly! Easy to make? Well...
At least we had a master plan with a scheme, materials, and technology. It was time for a proof of concept to see what exactly would turn out of it.
Pavel started right away with all the tools for the delicate operations! Gluing, cutting, trying, measuring,.. and he swears he did a master action at least once as well. We didn’t see him for a whole YEAR!!! (This may be heavily exaggerated – almost by a whole year..) But when we did see him again, he was cradling a beautiful puzzle tile. Concept proven!
Since the concept puzzle turned out so great, it was time to make much more of them for the whole game. After we received the premium blackboard and had the other two layers printed, we started according to the plan – by gluing the top layer to the blackboard. The blackboard gives the tiles their pleasing weight, sturdiness, and perfect width, while the Spot UV finish and the matt varnish on the outer layers provide unparalleled tactile feedback.
Bring out the big guns! Once the glue dried, it was time for carving out the recesses. Even though Pavel’s expertise with utility knives left us in awe (and also a little scared), we needed a 100% accurate and merciless tool. Ideally cutting-edge, with a LASER as the cutting edge. ;)
After several dozens of hours staring at the laser blasting unused parts of the puzzles to oblivion, we ended up with boards full of carved out grids. The next step was being incredibly careful while adding the third layer on the bottom, so it was lined up precisely with the first two layers. This worked out perfectly, and Jan even almost didn’t intoxicate himself from the glue fumes. (Did I say almost?) :) Umm.. let’s move on to the next part.. There's laser again!
Now that we had the raw tile-sandwich ready, we used the laser to carve out the actual tiles from the now triple layered boards. It was butter-smooth once a template out of pins to fit the raw boards inside was ready.
And voila! The triple-layer tiles were ready for a game.
That’s the end of the story of how a triple-layer tile was born and lived happily ever after! :) To be honest, it was a piece of work, but we really think it was worth it! Do you agree?
In the next part of Behind the Shape, we’ll turn the spotlight towards the acrylic pieces. Trust me, it is much more of a thriller! ;)
Jan, Michal & The Project L Team