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How are the Puzzles Created?


It may come as a surprise to some but there is a lot of work involved in creating the puzzle files used in my Anatomy Puzzles, Art Puzzles, Map Puzzles, Poster Puzzles and Window Puzzles apps.  All up it takes around 30 - 40 hours to create the 14 puzzles in a single pack.

Here's a quick summary of the process used for each and every puzzle:

  1. First of all I need to search the web for interesting images that are:
    • relevant to the pack being built, 
    • high enough resolution (at least 2000 pixels on the longest side), 
    • available for use in my apps (public domain or available under a suitable Creative Commons licence), 
    • and most importantly be interesting and beautiful.  
  2. The above step alone can take some time and I will often search out at least 20 potential images for each pack - some don't make the grade in later steps.
  3. Next, I use the amazing iPad app "Procreate" with an Apple Pencil to:
    • prepare the image - crop out unwanted portions, improve brightness if needed etc.
    • resize the image to the required size for the puzzle apps
    • remove or add a background as needed - some images (particularly in Anatomy Puzzles) come with a transparent background.
    • Add a new layer on top of the image - this will be the outline or frame which determines the shape of all the pieces in the puzzle.
    • Examine the image to understand the best difficulty level (large pieces for easy and small details for hard puzzles).
    • Understand the artistic decisions made by the original artist. Are the component edges distinct (Stained Glass windows have very well defined lines between segments but oil paintings do not)? Is the image geometric? What media did the artist use etc?  It is important that the shape and selection of pieces is in tune with the style of the original image.
    • Then comes the most creative part of the process.  I hand draw lines using an Apple Pencil in the new layer that define the edges of all the various pieces that will be created in the puzzle app.  See the blue lines in the image above for an example.  This process can take a long time for very detailed puzzles.
    • Once completed, I then look at the outline layer in detail to ensure all lines are smooth, joined up properly and any extraneous pixels erased.
    • I then save the image and the outline as separate files.
  4. The image and outline files are gathered together into a pack and included in the appropriate version update of the puzzle app.
  5. Meta-data about each image also needs to be recorded in the update, including:
    • Short title
    • Long description
    • Image attribution link
    • Colour to use for the background so the pieces stand out
    • Difficulty level
  6. Then comes the testing.  I play each puzzle manually in the app to ensure that it works properly. I will sometimes need to fix something back in Procreate and recreate the files used in the app.
  7. And finally, all the coding and setup in the App Store needs to be done to setup the In-App purchase so you lovely players can access the puzzles once the update has been reviewed and approved by Apple.
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into how a new puzzle pack is released.


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