How to Make Printable Jigsaw Puzzles

By Mary MacIntosh
A picture with large areas of solid color creates a difficult puzzle.

Printing your own personalized jigsaw puzzle is an inexpensive alternative to commercial puzzles that restrict your choice of design, shape and complexity. When you make a printable puzzle at home, you can adjust the difficulty of the puzzle for different audiences by varying the size of the pieces. Homemade puzzles created from favorite photographs make excellent gifts for friends and family. You can also use a personalized puzzle to convey a secret message or marriage proposal with a brainy twist.

Open a digital image on your computer using photo editing software. You can download images and clip art from an Internet source or load your own picture from a digital camera.

Crop image as desired using photo-editing software. You may create a standard rectangular puzzle, or choose a more daring outline. Some photo-editing software has a feature that overlays a puzzle piece outline layer over the image, which you may use in lieu of designing your own pieces.

Print the image onto adhesive-back paper. Stick the image to a thin piece of cardboard, carefully smoothing out any wrinkles. If no adhesive-back paper is available, glue the regular paper to the cardboard backing. Use a thin layer of glue to avoid lumps.

Wait for the glue or adhesive to dry. Meanwhile, print a second copy of the image on plain paper. Enclose this with the finished pieces to serve as a guide to the puzzle.

Draw the outlines of the pieces onto the puzzle image if your picture does not already have a puzzle overlay. It may be helpful to begin with a faint grid outline and add elaborate curves that make each piece unique.

Cut along each line with a craft knife. Work slowly and carefully to ensure that each cut is clean and the pieces fit together neatly.

Tip

For a creative art project, use a blank piece of adhesive paper for your puzzle. Draw or paint a picture onto the puzzle with art materials before drawing pieces and cutting them out. You will end up with an artistic, original masterpiece.

Warning

Exercise caution when using a craft knife. Cut on a surface that is solid and can withstand the blade. Control your motions to avoid slipping.

About the Author

Mary MacIntosh has been writing professionally since 2007, contributing articles to "The California Tech" and serving as an editor for the "Biweekly Frink Digest." She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in computational neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology.