Monday, August 22, 2005

Creating Chess Diagrams for Your Blog

I saw that Qaundoman had posted a question about how to put diagrams onto his blog. I posted a comment telling him how and realized only later that it was a bit too technical and that I basically had recommended a $40 solution when he did not want to spend a dime. I think I came up with the perfect solution for him. Best of all, it is simple and it is free. But if you are willing to spend some money, the $40 solution is still better.

Here are three solutions of various costs:

The Perfect Totally Free Diagram Solution

1) Download Arena Chess (Go to the main page at and click on "Arena Downloads" and choose the version you want; I recommend Set Up 2, which comes with free analysis engines).

2) Go through the Set Up Wizard to load the program on your computer.

3) Change the Appearance of the board to fit the colors and look you want for your diagrams (go to "Options">"Apearance" and play around with the options offered).

4) Set up your game or position -- or import a PGN file to play through -- until you reach the position you wish to diagram.

5) Now create a .jpg file showing the position as follows:
5a) Choose from the top menu "Position">"Export">"as graphics"
5b) A window will appear for you to give the file a name and a type and to choose the location to save it. I suggest you save it to the Desktop or to your "My Pictures" folder in "My Documents." Title it by the name of the opponents and the number move (if you intend to create more than one diagram from the game). DO NOT USE ANY SPACES OR UNUSUAL CHARACTERS IN YOUR FILE NAME. Some programs have trouble understanding spaces in file names. Then save it as .jpg rather than .bmp, since .jpg (or JPEGS) are better for the web. Bitmap images are better for text applications such as Word.
5c) Once you have made your choices, press "Save"

You now have an image file of your diagram to upload to your Blog. Rather easy and totally free.

The Perfect $40 Solution

For those of you willing to spend a little money, and who would like to have a quick method of posting chess diagrams online, I recommend the wonderful SnagIt program from TechSmith. Basically, SnagIt allows you to take a picture of any size of anything you can see on your computer screen and then immediately turn it into an image file in .gif or .jpg (or practically any other) format. It is unbeatable for making quick diagrams and even saves you a step or two over Adobe's Photoshop (which is a great progam and very useful, but a lot more capaility than you need for making chess diagrams). The full version of SnagIt comes with two aditional programs that give you about the same power as any image editing program at a fraction of the cost. And you don't have to take my word for it: try the 30-day Trial version and you'll see its value, which mostly amounts to time savings.

The Possibly Free Solution (If You Already Have the Software)

If you have a computer with Microsoft Office or Corel software, you likely have some simple image editing software as well. Learn how to use this software and you can make diagrams easily enough in one of two ways:

1) If you already have Fritz 8 (which has come down a lot in price), simply set up the position you want and choose "Edit">"Copy">"Copy Position" -- then paste the position into your image editing program and save as a .jpg for the web.

2) If you have no Fritz or other chess programs and you are unwilling to try Arena, then simply access a diagram on the web at the ChessBase site or Chesslab site. Use the GUI there to set up a position. Then type "Alt"+"Prnt Scrn" to copy the screen to the clipboard. Paste into your image editor and get rid of the excess. Save as .jpg.

If I think of other ideas I'll let you know.


Qaundoman said...

Much thanks again. Your time is valuable so I really appreciate you taking the time to spell all this out. I should have some time in the near future to sit down and try to get this stuff working on my site.

Trent said...

I created a free online tool that people can use to create chess diagrams. No download required!

I'm working on improving the GUI, but it is very functional already. You can also encode diagram positions as URLs (just copy-and-paste the address bar of the "Results" page).

matt said...

This is great. It converts the old notation to diagram

matt said...

Thanks for this nice software. Since it provides option for saving as bmp file only I do that and then convert it to jpg to reduce the bitsize..Is that what u meant by improving the GUI

matt said...

Can Trent or anyone pls tell me how I can make the hue and other settings as a default. Because I am unable to keep the same color and shades constant. Thanks

Anonymous said...

On this matter i might add: yet another way to grab and post pics is the software 20-20,which allows you to DIRECTLY annotate below or onto the screenshot, which no other freeware on the market does. The inventing company bylight can no longer be found, so it´s seldomly featured.

On places like download com you ll find dozens of free screen capture softwares.

Yet another (free) way to create jpgs is to use "jose". Install it like any graphical interface, right-click the board and press "copy". Then open any picture editing program on your computer(free alternatives are picasa, pixia, photophiltre or a proprietyware like coreldraw etc. pp) and press "paste". Save it the format you like for upload.

Jose is also a open source chess database for pgn´s, in which u may also store up to 50.000 games without major problems, but once u really get started storing games, that threshold is reached very quickly. Beyond the program will slow down performance dramatically, and it seems to be no longer maintained or further developed. But it s a great way of analysing with UCI engines for free.

Michael-Is-Great said...

Another free solution that produces the same result than the SnagIt solution.
Keep open your Chess User Interface (Fritz, Arena, or else), press the PrtScn (Print Scree) button on your keyboard.
Open the Windows Paint program, press paste to paste the screen printout and select the exact part you want to save and you have a perfect chess board.
Same result than with SnagIt but for free!

Joakim Pihlstrand-Trulp said...

I think this online tool works well. It's simple and straight-forward to use.

Anonymous said...

Almost any chess database can generate chess diagrams and saves it to jpg format and may support some other formats too. Cam studio is free software to download for screen capturing.