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Visual puzzles

Crosswords with interesting visual elements that emerge after filling in the grid

Sometimes there is more to a crossword grid than initially meets the eye.

Click any thumbnail to see the full view. Hover over a grid to see the author.
Across Lite links are included when available. See Grid Art for a different take on beautiful grids.

9/23/2018
Andrew Zhou recreates Magritte's The Treachery of Images.
12/24/2017
In 2017, Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen continued a year-end NYT crossword tradition by creating this connect-the-dots Christmas theme.
6/9/2013
Why just have a horse racing theme when you can get a bonus image by connecting the dots?
4/23/2017
The horsehead puzzle was the inspiration for this Ella Fitzgerald homage by Olivia Mitra Framke.
11/15/2009
In this tribute to Johnny Mercer, a classic Elizabeth C. Gorski connect-the-dots puzzle, the treble clef emerges only after the letters in the circles are determined.
12/22/2013
A Gorski visual puzzle is a year-end tradition. This "Good One!" arrived at the end of 2013.
12/25/2011
This delicious gingerbread man is her Christmas Day 2011 contribution.
6/24/2012
Is it getting hot in here? That's a very large Carbon footprint.
10/31/2010
Connect the dots in this Halloween puzzle to trace a scary bat.
4/15/2012
This titanic grid commemorates the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the unsinkable.
11/5/2009
The grid by Patrick Blindauer has to be filled before determining that it's the letter S that must be shaded, revealing an Invisible Man.
6/17/2009
Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel make a tree out of five LIMBs, three ROOTs, and a TRUNK.
6/11/2009
For Flag Day 2009, Alex Boisvert asks us to color the circles blue and any word containing an R red to reveal a familiar image.
Sun 6/13/2010FLAG DAY
METALSERENOWLALAW
RBIMANROMANIAMOBILE
SBEANCOBAINAGAMAS
SELESGYMSCENT
MESTIZOSHEPACQU
INCITESCALAMITOUS
STALESTATARUNTIESTO
SARIRELANDPSHAW
MINISTSSCOWLELI
ELECTRUMDOHHEWABLE
EEOCITALYISAT
MALTASENHLARSLONGA
AVEERASESANBOUT
LOEBSREBUILTKIT
INKINDFRANCESISTINE
GOONSTRIKEENCODES
PYCSDSOSNARLSAT
EASTKAPPDENTI
OHMAGEDIGEARBOOKS
NOEXITFERENGIAERIAL
SONIADORSETPRESTO
A year later, Francis Heaney gave us this international Flag Day treat. Rebus squares contain color names, and groups of them become flags which have to be interpreted as appropriate country names for the Across answers. I named this my Puzzle of the Year for 2010.
5/24/2009
In "Perpetual Motion" the theme answers are all about endlessness.
4/17/2012
Milo Beckman has us draw an arrow, stupid!
5/11/2011
It's unusual to have a science or math theme in an NYT puzzle, particularly one of this depth and complexity. The FIBONACCI SERIES F(n) starts 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987,… . Each number is the sum of the two preceding ones. The ratio between successive numbers in the series approaches the GOLDEN RATIO (an irrational number approx 1.618) as n approaches infinity. Artists have traditionally considered this relationship the most aesthetically pleasing. It is said to be observed in nature in, for example, the growth of nautilus chambers, and the patterns of artichoke leaves or sunflower seeds.
5/1/2014
ETs combine to make a flying saucer about to abduct a cow.
4/22/2009
The theme is sailboats and Daniel A. Finan has us connect to dots to draw one ourselves.
3/9/11
More wind power, this time lifting a kite aloft.
3/29/2009
Voilà, la Tour Eiffel. Rather than using circles, the key squares are indicated by rebus entries.
3/18/2010
Daniel A. Finan follows suit with what I like to think of as a musical tribute to Elizabeth C. Gorski. This puzzle might hold the record for most gimmicks in a single grid. Click the image to read more.
5/29/2012
The envelope please...
4/14/2011
In this rainy-day puzzle, the letters in the word UMBRELLA must be spelled out in order to see the shape.
11/23/2008
Le BateauDavid J. Kahn gave us this nautical reflection on a Matisse masterpiece.
Sun 12/19/2010HOPE FOR CLEAR SKIES
ONTAPEDAHLADZETHINLY
BOUTONAVIASIAMAENEID
STRIPEMANYMSAGOCROWNS
AFTERDDEIONDHORSE
HOWYOMTURNREDASIDAW
ONADEAPOSGTMUGCDAGE
VERAONERSVICESLYES
GAPPEABRAINSCEY
BENCELESTIALBODIESALB
INUTEROTOORDERONASSIS
DARESAYMEAWAIKIKI
ERSTATTHEESCOREICED
AMERELIRAPLOYJESSE
AMATEURASTRONOMER
TAJBRYANMOEGSUITSAG
ALOMARKENNEDYSWANNS
LITERATITIAMOMAHARANI
LASAGNESTOTEMXRAYSPEX
TOTALLUNARECLIPSE
AGASREOAVGNAME
CASTINGGOESDERASHADOW
OPHELIAINBUILTTEELINE
PEEWEESCOWPOKEONESTAR
EclipseKevin Der lined up the planets to give us a movie of a lunar eclipse.
11/4/2008
This Election Day 2008 puzzle shows us how to cast a ballot by tracing all the Vs in the grid.
Sun 11/2/2008WEB MASTER
ABRUPTMICESPRITISH
PLENUMADATAHININIE
TUNERSCOMICBOOKCOVER
NINASALIIOTSTIRE
ONESUGARLIETOEATERS
GREENGOBLINGALLOWAY
PROVEITRUSSO
BETASANDIRMASOCTAL
EXILESSOIOPTTITO
CATFIGHTDITCHESAMIS
OMARTAOOIEERRVINE
MINESIBERIAREADINGS
ENIDREOISMSNUGLI
SEAMSCYNDIABAASSET
ODIUMAIGLETS
ATALANTAWILLEMDAFOE
BELIKEGENIIHESPERUS
ATTNEURIMNOPLACE
THEAMAZINGSMANBLITHE
EEREVERSOEYERECORD
DRSTAKETORAYSTERES
The Amazing Spider-Man is hanging by a very long thread.
Thu 12/16/1999
ARTSBASICSTAG
LUAUAMOCOAHME
INREYEMENDEBT
BOZHONETRAVIS
AVALONBEAUTIES
BENICEOLININE
ARTETIDINGITT
HUMSYDSCI
ABEIMAGESRIIS
TRADEARELAINE
TAPDANCECAGIER
EVERSOAWRYIRV
MEMOROSIELIRA
PLANALERTANON
TYNEHADESBERT
There was a similar theme on a smaller scall in this funny Jungle Swinger puzzle by Harvey Estes and Nancy Salomon.
10/1/2008
Barry Boone was the constructor but he had us construct the house ourselves.
3/24/2010
A rather different structure, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, is spelled out in circles.
7/31/2017
More American architecture with this celebration of Seattle, including the Space Needle.
4/25/2010
This monumental achievement celebrates the pyramid.
6/8/2011
Here's another 3-D image, this time a single die with the "snake eye" side visible.
Thu 1/28/2016
SNAPTOCOOPAMP
TELLONHNCELOX
ROLEOSRETRACTS
ICHATEDSEETH
PORTTRAITAMBI
SNEERITETRIAL
DUPLEHOISTS
RHABALLOONTHA
ONCALLINNES
ANICEREPSHAMS
RADOPEROTICON
HLIUMTUNAHRO
DEADSPOTNOTFAR
OKDTITHINSOLE
WESOLEOSOURED
Helium atoms form a circle to create a red balloon.
9/11/2008
Young star Caleb Madison contributed this puzzle to the 2008 Teen Puzzlemaker Week.
8/24/2008
To complete this remarkable 3-D puzzle by Kevin G. Der, you must fold along the lines indicated and then GO THROW THE PAPER AIRPLANE.
12/5/2010
This construction project by Ben Pall has us color in the O's to make pips on a die.
5/25/2008
The name is Gorski, Elizabeth Gorski, and the puzzle is shaken, not stirred. Or is it the other way around?
12/30/2007
Another year-end visual from the queen of such puzzles.
7/4/2007
Patrick Blindauer has us shade in some squares after solving this July 4, 2007 birthday puzzle.
7/2/2006
Once again, rebus squares hide the visual element.
7/3/2011
This ambitious dot-connector provides a recipe for a cool summer soda from a DINER.
1/31/2006
This scarlet letter puzzle is a kind of precursor to the Invisible Man above but with a different approach. The clue for 65 Across is "California team [and 18 letters in the grid to circle ... and then connect using three lines]" and the answer is THE A'S.
6/26/2003
This one is similar. We're asked to find the letter that appears 21 times. It's an S. If you connect them all, you get the shape of a big S.
4/25/2004
Rebus keys again. A flock of birds flies off to the right in V Formation.
12/14/2003
This year-end Christmas tree is, as far as I know, the first puzzle where the solver connects the dots in alphabetical order.
Sun 11/28/2010A SHINING MOMENT
GETSANAIDAHOSTRINGS
ACHEFORSEVERTOOSOON
BLEATEDALLOREDINCARGO
SAWENOLAMHOERIKWOW
TEARDROPOIOVISCERAL
DRTSOFTCOLORFEY
SUNCHIPSOEIROASSESSAS
NNEAFRAIDGRETELPGA
ABSENCEOAUCTIOALLERGY
KODAKPMSKOAEBBETUIS
ELAPSEOTHEBUTTOGRACES
STYGECKOSATOMICESO
BIGORIBCAGEOSET
RAJIVMGMLASSHANACHO
EMOTIOALCONANIMOTOYOU
MELNANUYAYMERISENUS
OBLOGSTOYTOITOEIROIST
PAYSPESTOIBEAMACES
WARDHUETZUSMUT
STRIFESENTEREDLETITBE
THETREELIGHTINGCEREMONY
AAMCOLOCNOEEVESEGER
GISHSUEOSSTSPRAGE
Here's another tree celebrating the annual Manhattan Tree Lighting Ceremony.
10/13/2002
All the circles in Downward Spiral contain the letter O in this puzzle about the famous double helix. The answer to 3 Down is DESOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID.
Sun 12/30/2001DROPPING THE BALL
ARABIABOAQUEICEMAN
LOUANNOKSETASHRINE
ITLLDOWESTDERBIRDIE
SODDEDLEONHUMAN
LUNEFREDIETETICS
SMARTGETSWITHRIGBY
EENETTASERSAACHEN
EGGRAITTFSTARSTRS
SASEPETITFBATTY
ABYSSESTOTROWHOUSES
WINTERDONTRRYMARINE
STEERAGESOASMANIPLE
SACRAINTACTSCAT
MAPKORBUTAWAITHRH
AGATESSAPSETCHAGE
LURIDFIRSTRLDARMED
INTRUDERSOOOSTOP
YEARNOARSUSUALS
ASHORELASTRDSRAGGLE
FRAUDSIDOEERGLENDA
LOTTOSZENDDSELDEST
This year-ender is more like a visual movie than an image. Follow the progress of the answer at 25 Down to ring in the New Year. As with any of these, click the thumbnail to see the full puzzle.
9/26/2012
This rather different sort of ball isn't even round.
12/31/2000
Another year-end puzzle showing the time on the clock when the yearly odometer changes over.
1/7/1996
In this early example by Eric Albert, connecting STAR rebus squares forms a familiar constellation.
Sun 11/21/1993SPECTRAL ANALYSIS
SEAGIRLSANKARA
OPTIMASONNETSLOLLED
CARNACNONSTOPBEANS
AGEELEAFURALLEM
LEEORKISPYEKESOUT
ASPSCEECYSUSESDAN
ASKSKIDMLLECERT
GEWGAWSEENOTELLO
ONADOSGREGORYIBSEN
ORRIRSYODASTRIVE
DAMASKHEALER
AGENTARESARRINV
SENTIFLIRTERPIACUE
SCREENRNAENTRAPS
COPYHARDEONSKID
ARAVOLTSELCDISPAT
TANNESTIOTARINASH
FIRYARDDENGPIPE
ANIONSRAINBOWSARE
CASBAHSQUEEZESIRENS
ETHELIMAGEDSIRS
The Shortz Era started with this rainbow grid from Peter Gordon.

See Grid Art for grids with beautiful or unusual block patterns.