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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.

Sun 6/9/20136/9/2013Why just have a horse racing theme when you can get a bonus image by connecting the dots?   [Across Lite, PDF]
Sun 4/23/20174/23/2017The horsehead puzzle was the inspiration for this grid by Olivia Mitra Framke.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Sun 11/15/200911/15/2009In 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.   [Across Lite]
Sun 12/22/201312/22/2013A Gorski visual puzzle is a year-end tradition. This "Good One!" arrived at the end of 2013.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Sun 12/25/201112/25/2011This delicious gingerbread man is her Christmas Day 2011 contribution.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Sun 6/24/20126/24/2012Is it getting hot in here? That's a very large Carbon footprint.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Sun 10/31/201010/31/2010Connect the dots in this Halloween puzzle to trace a scary bat.   [Across Lite]
Sun 4/15/20124/15/2012This titanic grid commemorates the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the unsinkable.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Thu 11/5/200911/5/2009The grid by Patrick Blindauer has to be filled before determining that it's the letter S that must be shaded, revealing an Invisible Man.   [Across Lite]
Wed 6/17/20096/17/2009Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel make a tree out of five LIMBs, three ROOTs, and a TRUNK.   [Across Lite]
Thu 6/11/20096/11/2009For Flag Day 2009, Alex Boisvert asks us to color the circles blue and any word containing an R red to reveal a familiar image.   [Across Lite]
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.   [Across Lite]
Sun 5/24/20095/24/2009In "Perpetual Motion" the theme answers are all about endlessness.   [Across Lite]
Tue 4/17/20124/17/2012Milo Beckman has us draw an arrow, stupid!   [Across Lite, PDF]
Wed 5/11/20115/11/2011It'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.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Thu 5/1/20145/1/2014ETs combine to make a flying saucer about to abduct a cow.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Wed 4/22/20094/22/2009The theme is sailboats and Daniel A. Finan has us connect to dots to draw one ourselves.   [Across Lite]
Wed 3/9/20113/9/2011More wind power, this time lifting a kite aloft.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Sun 3/29/20093/29/2009Voilà, la Tour Eiffel. Rather than using circles, the key squares are indicated by rebus entries.   [Across Lite]
Thu 3/18/20103/18/2010Daniel 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.   [Across Lite]
Tue 5/29/20125/29/2012The envelope please...   [Across Lite, PDF]
Thu 4/14/20114/14/2011In this rainy-day puzzle, the letters in the word UMBRELLA must be spelled out in order to see the shape.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Sun 11/23/200811/23/2008Le Bateau
David J. Kahn gave us this nautical reflection on a Matisse masterpiece.   [Across Lite]
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
Eclipse
Kevin Der lined up the planets to give us a movie of a lunar eclipse.   [Across Lite]
Tue 11/4/200811/4/2008This Election Day 2008 puzzle shows us how to cast a ballot by tracing all the Vs in the grid.   [Across Lite]
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.   [Across Lite]
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.   [Across Lite]
Wed 10/1/200810/1/2008Barry Boone was the constructor but he had us construct the house ourselves.   [Across Lite]
Wed 3/24/20103/24/2010A rather different structure, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, is spelled out in circles.   [Across Lite]
Mon 7/31/20177/31/2017More American architecture with this celebration of Seattle, including the Space Needle.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Sun 4/25/20104/25/2010This monumental achievement celebrates the pyramid.   [Across Lite]
Wed 6/8/20116/8/2011Here's another 3-D image, this time a single die with the "snake eye" side visible.   [Across Lite, PDF]
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.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Thu 9/11/20089/11/2008Young star Caleb Madison contributed this puzzle to the 2008 Teen Puzzlemaker Week.   [Across Lite]
Sun 8/24/20088/24/2008To complete this remarkable 3-D puzzle by Kevin G. Der, you must fold along the lines indicated and then GO THROW THE PAPER AIRPLANE.   [Across Lite]
Sun 12/5/201012/5/2010This construction project by Ben Pall has us color in the O's to make pips on a die.   [Across Lite]
Sun 5/25/20085/25/2008The name is Gorski, Elizabeth Gorski, and the puzzle is shaken, not stirred. Or is it the other way around?   [Across Lite]
Sun 12/30/200712/30/2007Another year-end visual from the queen of such puzzles.   [Across Lite]
Wed 7/4/20077/4/2007Patrick Blindauer has us shade in some squares after solving this July 4, 2007 birthday puzzle.   [Across Lite]
Sun 7/2/20067/2/2006Once again, rebus squares hide the visual element.   [Across Lite]
Sun 7/3/20117/3/2011This ambitious dot-connector provides a recipe for a cool summer soda from a DINER.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Tue 1/31/20061/31/2006This 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.   [Across Lite]
Thu 6/26/20036/26/2003This 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.   [Across Lite]
Sun 4/25/20044/25/2004Rebus keys again. A flock of birds flies off to the right in V Formation.   [Across Lite]
Sun 12/14/200312/14/2003This year-end Christmas tree is, as far as I know, the first puzzle where the solver connects the dots in alphabetical order.   [Across Lite]
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.   [Across Lite]
Sun 10/13/200210/13/2002All 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.   [Across Lite]
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.   [Across Lite]
Wed 9/26/20129/26/2012This rather different sort of ball isn't even round.   [Across Lite, PDF]
Sun 12/31/200012/31/2000Another year-end puzzle showing the time on the clock when the yearly odometer changes over.   [Across Lite]
Sun 1/7/19961/7/1996In this early example by Eric Albert, connecting STAR rebus squares forms a familiar constellation.   [Across Lite]
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.   [Across Lite]

Click Grid Art for more beautiful grids!