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It's Puzzle Time! **IMAGE HEAVY**

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This tutorial is available as a PDF. Click here to view or download it


Before you proceed, there is a pdf version of this tutorial in a zip file here:


Here is what we are striving to accomplish:


A better view of our final pic:


These will be our source pictures:

3 4 5

NOTE: Though I've provided some source files, obviously if you wish to use some other image for your puzzle (like a baby picture or a family picnic, etc. to make yours more meaningful) you're certainly welcome to do so.

Plugins Used:

AA Assistant

Alpha Mask

Bevel Selection ( http://forums.getpai...?showtopic=8318 )

Let's begin:

1.) First begin by opening the "Puzzle Pieces" template image

2.) Next, go to menu under "Layers" and select "Import From File..."


3.) Select the image you wish to use to create your puzzle of (in this case, the file name I have is Wentworth.jpg)

You will note that using this procedure automatically puts "nubs" on the corners and edges of the image as indicated below by the arrows:


4.) Select the background "Puzzle Pieces" template from the "Layers" pane simply by clicking on it (Indicated by "A")

5.) Copy the selection to the clipboard (Indicated by "B" or use the shortcut "Ctrl" + "C" method)


6.) Go back to the "Wentworth" layer and select it by click on it in the "Layers" pane (indicated by "A" below)

7.) Next, go to the menus under "Effects" and select "Alpha Mask" (indicated by "B" below)


8.) You should get this - if all is well at this point, click "OK":


9.) Next turn off the view of the "Wentworth" image by removing the check next to it in the "Layers" pane, this should put your selection back to the "Puzzle Pieces" template (indicated by "A" below)

10.) Change your primary color to Red (or depending upon the image you might be using you might desire a different color - I'm trying to avoid using any specific color from the picture - especially black or white - indicated by "B" below)


11.) Using the "Paint Bucket", change your lines to Red (you might find it easier to zoom in to an intersecting point to do this)


12.) Once you are done changing the line colors, return to the "Layers" pane and turn on once again the "Wentworth" layer by clicking on it and putting the check mark in the corresponding block (indicated by "A" below)

13.) Merge the layer down (indicated by "B" below)


14.) At this point, I am saving the progress of this image (so it's available for use in this state in the future). In this instance, it is being saved as "Wentworth2.jpg" Be sure to "Flatten" the image when prompted to do so.


15.) Close this image and repeat steps 1 - 3 above.

16.) Once the original images are open once again, ensure your selection in the "Layers" pane is once again on the "Puzzle Pieces" layer and that the "Wentworth" layer is turned off (check mark removed).

17.) Return your primary color to Black, grab the Paint Bucket and fill in areas on the template (try to give a somewhat realistic layout to reflect a puzzle partially assembled - you can make this as complete or incomplete as you think you can manage)


18.) Next select the "Move Selected Pixels" tool from the "Tools" pane and click anywhere on the canvas (this will put the selection with the nubs once again around the image).

19.) Go to the menu and select "Copy" once again to copy this to the clipboard

NOTE: Alternatively, you can use the standard selection tool - click on it in the "Tools" pane and then press the keys "Ctrl" + "A" (A = All) and then use the keys "Ctrl" + "C" to copy to the clipboard. (This is actually the preferred method, but to some extent I guess this 'ol dog is doomed to doing some things the hard way...)


20.) Once again apply the Alpha Mask to the image just as you did in steps 7 - 8 above. And if again, if you get the screen similar to the one shown below, go ahead and click "OK"


21.) Next, click on the "Puzzle Pieces" background in the "Layers" pane and then select "Delete Layer"


22.) It's time once again to save our image. This time increment the number to 3 ("Wentworth3" in this instance), but change the file format to ".png" to retain the transparency in it as shown below:


23.) Now that the file is saved, we're going to undo this to return to the point just before we saved it. Do this by going to the "History" pane and clicking on the line that indicates "Alpha Mask" (just above the "Delete Layer").


24.) Now select the "Wentworth" layer from the "Layers" pane and delete it.


25.) Once the layer has been deleted, go to the menu under "Adjustments" and select "Invert Colors"


26.) Once again, go to the menu under "Layers" and select "Import from file..."


27.) Select the "Wentworth2.jpg" file (the one that had the Red sectional lines - for lack of a better term).


28.) Now select the ("Puzzle Pieces") background layer (indicated by "A" below) from the "Layers" pane.

29.) Again, copy this to the clipboard (indicated by "B" below).


30.) Again, go to the "Layers" pane and select the "Wentworth2" layer (indicated by "A" below).

31.) Return to the menues and select the "Alpha Mask" again as we did previously. If all is well (as shown below), go ahead and click "OK" (indicated by "B" below).


32.) Return to the "Layers" pane and select the "Puzzle Pieces" background by clicking on it and then delete it.

33.) Next select the magic wand from the "Tools" pane and click on the Red sectional lines to select them (once again, zoom into one of the intersecting points to make the selection easier)


34.) Press the "Delete" key on your keyboard to remove the Red lines.


35.) You might/probably have some residual artifacts after deleting the Red lines (zoom in on the picture to see if you can see any of them still remanded to the picture). If this is the case, then go to the menus under "Effects", go down to "Object" and from this sub-menu select "AA's Assistant..." to clean it up.


36.) Now that we have a clean layer, duplicate this layer by click on the button indicated by "A" below with the resulting layer illustrated by "B" below:


37.) Next turn off one of these layers (indicated by "A" below)

38.) Go to the "Tools" pane, select the "Eraser" (indicated by "B") below, and begin erasing pieces (indicated by "C" below) (see "NOTE" below) from this layer (an eraser size of 20 seemed to be the perfect size to do these for me).

39.) When you've completed erasing pieces from the first layer, proceed to the other layer and erase the opposite pieces (see "NOTE" below).

NOTE: When I did this, I did it somewhat haphazardly and got confused from time to time when I began working on the other layer to erase pieces from it. I strongly recommend (despite the screenshots below) to erase the horizontal pieces in one layer and when it's time to do the other layer, do the vertical pieces - please, learn from my headache....!

The reason why we are doing this is so it will be easier to select these individual pieces and move them. If adjacent pieces are too close, when we try to select 1 piece, we will inadvertently take part(s) of adjacent pieces.


Once the pieces have been erased from the appropriate layer, lets begin arranging the pieces along the top (this will eventually be added to the main puzzle to the top of it, so we want them to be grouped together in a somewhat random fashion near the top).

40.) Go to the "Tools" pane and select the "Rectangle Select" tool (indicated by "A" below).

41.) Go to one of the pieces (indicated by "B" below) and select it (in the example below I'm beginning with the piece on the very edge to bring it inward and away from the edge a little bit - some of the "random arrangement" that we're after).


42.) When you've got it selected, return to the "Tools" pane and select "Move Selected Pixels" (indicated by "A" below).

The selection should now change to an outline around the piece with the "nubs" on it.


43.) Now with the mouse, hold the left button and drag it away from the edge.

44.) Next, with the right mouse button (and while holding the button depressed), click on one of the nubs and move the mouse to rotate the piece.


45.) Repeat steps 40 - 44 for the remaining pieces on the layer


If by chance you still have some pieces still close to another, try using the "Elipse Select" instead of the "Rectangle Select"


46.) Repeat the method described above to move the pieces in the other layer until something similar to the below exists


47.) Now merge the layers together into a single layer as shown below.


48.) Now that we're fairly satisfied with our results so far, it's time once again to save this. Since this part of the original "Wentworth" image, I'm saving this as "Wentworth4.png".


49.) Open a new canvas with the "Wentworth3.png" as the background.

50.) Go to the menus under "Image" and select "Canvas Size" as shown below.


51.) Set the "Height" to "1268" (indicated by "A" below - this should give us plenty of room to work with)

52,) Select the lower and centermost button (indicated by "B" below) and then click "OK"


53.) Go to the "Tools" pane and select the "Magic Wand".


54.) Click in the white space above the puzzle and then press the "Delete" key (result should be as shown by "A" below)

55.) Next, click on the still open canvas for "Wentworth4.png" to return to it (indicated by "B" below)


56.) Go to the "Tools" pane and select the "Rectangle Select" tool.

57.) Select the pieces from this layer as shown by the blue.

58.) Copy this to the clipboard


59.) Return to the other canvas in the same manner as you did above to get to this one.

60.) Go to the menu under "Edit" and select "Paste" (alternatively you can just press the "Ctrl" + "V" key combination instead of going into the menus).


61.) With the pieces now on our canvas (but not yet permanently situated) and still under the "Move Selected Pixels", use the down arrow key to move these down closer to our main puzzle. You may also use the "Ctrl" key in combination with the arrow key to move them in larger increments.


62.) Next deselect (Press the "Esc" key).

63.) Go to the "Tools" pane and select the "Rectangle Select" tool (indicated by "A" below).

64.) Select the main puzzle and the pieces as shown below by "B".

65.) Once selected, go to the menu under "Images" and select "Crop to Selection" (indicated by "C" below).


66.) Open a new canvas with our "Dining Table" as the background


67.) Return once again to our puzzle pieces canvas (indicated by "A" below).

68.) Go to the "Tools" pane and select the "Rectangle Select" tool (indicated by "B" below).

69.) On the keyboard (here's where I begin to work only slightly smarter than I have in some of my earlier process descriptions...) press "Ctrl" + "A" to select all of the image (indicated by "C" below) and then press "Ctrl" + "C" to copy to the clipboard.


70.) Return to the "Dining Table" canvas and add a new layer as shown below


71.) Press the "Ctrl" + "V" key combination to past the puzzle pieces to the new layer.

72.) (Not shown) You will be prompted if you wish to expand the canvas, for the sake of argument, choose to expand the canvas.

73.) Resize the newly pasted puzzle pieces by clicking on a corner nub and holding the mouse button in while simultaneously holding the "Shift" key and move your mouse inward. This should reduce the size of the pasted image while maintaining it's original proportions.


74.) Now deselect using the "Esc" key

75.) Go to the "Tools" pane and select the "Rectangle Select" tool (indicated by "A" below).

76.) Select the whole image (less the white space on the bottom - indicated by "B" below)

77.) Once selected, go to the menu under "Image" and select "Crop to Selection" (indicated by "C" below).


78.) Next go to the "Layers" pane and turn off the puzzle pieces layer (indicated by "A" below)

79.) Next, go to the menus under "Adjustments" and select "Brightness/Contrast" (indicated by "B" below)

80.) Adjust the image to your liking but enough to bring out some more details from the background (indicated by "C" below)


81.) Turn back on the puzzle pieces layer and select it by clicking on it on the "Layers" pane so we're actively working with this layer (indicated by "A" below)

82.) Select the "Magic Wand" from the "Tools" pane (indicated by "B" below)

83.) Select the open area around all the loose puzzle pieces (indicated by "C" below)


84.) Press "Ctrl" + "I" key combination to invert the selection (indicated by "A" below)

85.) Go to the menu under Effects down to "Selection" and under the sub-menu choose "Bevel Selection" (indicated by "B" below)


86.) Adjust according to your taste as shown below (focus primarily on the "Depth" and "Strength" settings/sliders).


87.) Once you're reasonable content with it, deselect it by pressing the "Esc" key and go to the menus under "Layer" and select "Rotate/Zoom" as shown below.


88.) Adjust to something similar to what's shown below so that it reasonably appears that this layer is sitting on the table.


89.) Once done adjust the "Brightness/Contrast" of the layer to more closely match with the background.


If all went well, you should now be done with your first puzzle on a table! Congrats!!!

EDIT: Corrected an omission in Step 69 to indicate the process to copy to the clipboard at this point.

This tutorial is brought to you through the urging of one of our noteable members (NightNurse) who was eager to see me get a headache! lol - jk about the headache.

EDIT: Added .pdf download link

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Woah - What a nice tutorial! Thanks Jim - you've obviously put a great deal of thought into this.

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Thanks everybody, but as the expression goes, "The proof is in the pudding" so I'm looking forward to seeing results from others.

I tried to give as much detail as I possibly could so that even people new to Paint.net and don't necessarily know how to do certain steps or where something is that they will be able to follow along without getting lost (hopefully).

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Jim: would it be possible to attach a PDF version of the tutorial so users can download it and work through it offline?

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NN- Nice job! I'm glad it worked out for you without any problems. Using your own pictures will be great way to personalize it.

EER- I'll see what I might be able to put together as a .pdf. That thought had already crossed my mind.


Minners- Nice outcome and effect (puzzle within a puzzle).


It's quite possible to greatly reduce it. For the one in my gallery, when I did the individual pieces I simply copied the pieces from the layer containing the majority of the puzzle and pasted onto a transparent layer, then erased the little bit around the piece from the adjacent pieces until I had a single piece. Step-wise, this reduces some, but it's very time consuming for all those individual pieces. Above, I was trying to use the plugins (masking) as a tool to isolate some of them (hence filling in sections of the template and a couple other steps). Also, I didn't have to color the lines in red as I did this time because of how I did it, but again, the reason I did so this time was because of the masking that I was using.

To sum it up, in this tutorial I was trying to use the program to do some of the more tedious approaches that I used the first time I did the puzzle piece. So more steps, but I think less troublesome on a set of weary eyes (especially when copying and pasting so many individual pieces and needing to do more erasing than used here in the tutorial).

Edited by jim100361
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  • 3 months later...

As I promised you jim100361, here is what I came up with, sorry for using your table, but ours was full at the time :) I did use a picture of my own though.

Thank you for the work gone into making this tutorial. I do have one point though - Should you also need a step #90 Flatten the image and save your finished work? or is that just so obvious anyway :D






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Sasha, I never flatten an image. I save 2 copies - one as a working file with as many layers intact as possible (some are even duplicate layers that are hidden before merging down for certain elements, in case I need to go back & change it). So 1 as a .PDN & 1 as a .PNG because png is lossless & supports transparency.

YOu did a great job with this. Well done!


Knowledge is no burden to carry.


April Jones, 2012

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Sasha, I never flatten an image. I save 2 copies - one as a working file with as many layers intact as possible (some are even duplicate layers that are hidden before merging down for certain elements, in case I need to go back & change it). So 1 as a .PDN & 1 as a .PNG because png is lossless & supports transparency.

YOu did a great job with this. Well done!

Yeah I keep a PDN of  things, but to host it on photobucket it has to be .png or .jpg. Thank you for the feedback :)





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