US 20070004492 A1
A picture maze and a method of producing the picture maze are described. The picture maze comprises a maze wherein a significant portion of the image data for a desired picture is contained within the lines of the maze such that one or both the color and intensity of the lines vary over their lengths relative to the picture content. Methodologies for producing a picture maze are also described wherein a digital image of a maze and a digital image of a picture are combined and the opacity of the maze's digital image is adjusted as necessary to permit the picture's digital image to be viewed.
1. An amusement puzzle comprising:
a substrate having a top surface;
a plurality of lines marked on the top surface, the lines forming,
a labyrinth of pathways extending between adjacent borders of the plurality of lines,
wherein a limited number of passageways are defined by the plurality of lines and the labyrinth of pathways with a limited number of passageways extending between one or more entry locations into the passageways; and
wherein one or both the color and intensity of the plurality of lines (i) differ from one or both the color and intensity of the adjacent pathways, and (ii) vary along the lengths of the lines to form a predetermined image.
2. The amusement puzzle of
3. The amusement puzzle of
4. The amusement puzzle of
5. The amusement puzzle of
6. The amusement puzzle of
7. The amusement puzzle of
8. The amusement puzzle of
9. The amusement puzzle of
10. A picture maze comprising a plurality of lines that define a least one passageway between at least one start location and at least one finish location wherein one or both the color and intensity of the plurality of lines vary over their lengths, the varying color and intensity of the lines forming a predetermined image.
11. The picture maze of
12. The picture maze of
13. The picture maze of
14. The picture maze of
15. The picture maze of
16. A method of generating a picture maze having a plurality of lines that define a plurality of pathways with at least one passageway between at least one start location and at least one finish location, wherein one or both the color and intensity of the plurality of lines vary to form a predetermined image, the method comprising:
displaying image files for a maze and a picture in an image editing program;
overlaying the maze image and the picture image one on top of the other; and
merging the picture image and the maze image.
17. The method of
reducing the opacity of the picture maze image.
18. The method of
19. The method of
producing the picture maze.
20. The method of
digitizing one or both the maze and the picture to create picture maze image files.
This invention relates to amusement puzzles.
Mazes are well known on printed thin substrate such as paper and as three dimensional constructions such as corn mazes and hedge mazes. Typical printed mazes comprise of a plurality of paths bounded by pairs of adjacent lines printed on the substrate. The pathways typically include many dead ends but at least one pathway extends from a starting location to a finish location. By traversing the pathways from start to finish a user effectively solves the maze.
A substantial portion of printed mazes comprise of lines and pathways that fill a whole or portion of a piece of paper such as shown in prior art
In one embodiment of the present invention, an amusement puzzle is described. The puzzle includes a substrate having a top surface with a plurality of lines marked thereon. The lines form a labyrinth of pathways extending between adjacent borders of the plurality of lines. The puzzle further includes a limited number of passageways that are defined by the plurality of lines and the labyrinth of pathways. The limited number of passageways extend between one or more entry locations. One or both the color and intensity of the plurality of lines both (i) differ from one or both the color and intensity of the adjacent pathways, and (ii) vary along the lengths of the lines to form a predetermined image.
In another embodiment, a picture maze is described. The picture maze comprises a plurality of lines that define a least one path between at least one start location and at least one finish location. One or both the color and intensity of the plurality of lines vary over their lengths. The varying color and intensity of the lines form a predetermined image.
In yet another embodiment, a method of generating a picture maze is described. The picture maze has a plurality of lines that define a plurality of pathways with at least one passageway extending between at least one start location and at least one finish location. One or both the color and intensity of the plurality of lines vary to form a predetermined image. The method of generating the picture maze includes: (i) displaying image files for a maze and a picture in an image editing program; (ii) overlaying the maze image and the picture image one on top of the other; and (iii) merging the picture image and the maze image.
Amusement puzzles, particularly picture mazes and a method of creating picture mazes, are described. According to one embodiment, a picture maze comprises a plurality of lines rendered on a thin substrate that form pathways of which only a small number extend continuously from a start to a finish. One or both the color and intensity of the lines vary as appropriate over their lengths such that an image is formed. In contrast, the images associated with prior art mazes are either formed by the spatial orientation of the lines (see prior art
To form a picture maze according to embodiments of the present invention, digitized images of both a picture and a maze are typically combined on a computer using image editing software, such as but not limited to Adobe Photoshop™. Once the maze and picture images are cropped and/or resized to complementary dimensions, the typically black or darkly colored lines of the maze image are removed leaving only the white or light complected pathways of the maze image remaining. The altered maze image is then placed over the picture image such that portions of the image can be viewed through the areas where the lines were removed from the maze image. Effectively, the image below forms the maze lines causing the lines to vary in color and intensity over their lengths. The opacity of the white or light complected paths can be reduced to allow the image to partially show through the pathways while retaining a contrast difference with the lines bordering the pathway. Once the contrast and opacity of the respective images are optimized, the two images are merged creating a picture maze image that can be printed or rendered in any suitable manner.
The term “or” as used in this specification and the appended claims is not meant to be exclusive rather the term is inclusive meaning “either or both”.
References in the specification to “one embodiment”, “an embodiment”, “a preferred embodiment”, “an alternative embodiment” and similar phrases means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least an embodiment of the invention. The appearances of the phrase “in one embodiment” in various places in the specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment.
Directional and/or relationary terms such as, but not limited to, left, right, nadir, apex, top, bottom, vertical, horizontal, back, front and lateral are relative to each other and are dependent on the specific orientation of an applicable element or article, and are used accordingly to aid in the description of the various embodiments and are not necessarily intended to be construed as limiting.
As applicable, the terms “about” or “generally” as used herein unless otherwise indicated means a margin of +−20%. Also as applicable, the term substantially as used herein unless otherwise indicated means a margin of +−10%. It is to be appreciated that not all uses of the above terms are quantifiable such that the referenced ranges can be applied.
The term, “picture” as used herein refers to any suitable image and is not limited to photographs. For example, a picture can comprise paintings, prints, lithographs and drawings in addition to photographs.
The terms “line” and “lines” as used herein refer to sections of a maze bordering the pathways. For example, the dark areas for each of the sections 50-85 of the maze illustrated in
The term “pathway” as well as the plural form of the term are used herein interchangeably to refer to portion of a maze that is bounded by lines and along which a user of the maze typically follows in attempting to solve the maze. It is appreciated that where the lines themselves form the path or passageway (as in
The term “intensity” as used herein is generally synonymous with “contrast”. In reference to the picture maze lines, “intensity” refers to variance in contrast of the line along its length. For example in a black and white photograph, the grayscale color of a line can vary from a light gray to a dark gray along its length when the underlying associated image transitions from a lighter section to a darker section.
The phrase “substrate” as used herein is not limited to paper but includes any substrate that has a surface or surfaces on which the maze can be imprinted. Substrates can, for example, include: woven or nonwoven fabric, sheets of plastic material, glass, metal sheet and thin sheets of wood, such as plywood. A substrate as used herein can also refer to an electronic display, such as a computer monitor.
As used herein unless clearly indicated otherwise, any references to differences in color between elements of the picture maze is intended to also apply to grayscale differences in black and white images as well. Further, although the examples provided and described herein are rendered in grayscale, picture mazes can also be created and rendered in color.
The mazes 5 & 45 of
As seen specifically in
Since a substantial portion if not all the picture image data concerning the resulting picture maze resides on the maze lines, the percent of the maze's total area covered by the lines must be sufficient to permit the underlying image to be discernable from a distance. Preferably, although not absolutely, this percentage is 25% or more of the total surface area; more preferably 35% or more; and most preferably 45% or more. However, the actual area required to provide an adequate rendition of the underlying picture will vary based on several factors including (i) the amount of detail in the picture, (ii) the opacity of the pathways, and (iii) the distance from which the picture maze embodiment will be typically viewed.
The maze 90 in
In the second section 55 of the
In the third section 60 of the
The forth section 65 of the
The fifth section of the maze is substantially similar to the lines discussed above with reference to
The sixth, seventh and eighth sections 75, 80 & 85 of the
The lines of the seventh and eighth sections 80 & 85 can best be described as comprising curvaceous and arcuate blobs that are generally randomly distributed over the surface of the maze. The lines in both of these sections have a relatively large surface area that when combined with their general randomness is minimally distractive when viewing a picture of an associated picture maze from a suitable distance.
To summarize, many different types of mazes can be combined with a picture to form a picture maze according to an embodiment of the present invention; however, several characteristics make some types of mazes preferable to others when the picture maze creator desires to maximize the viewability of the associated picture. Preferably as discussed above, the percentage of line surface area relative to the total area will be significant. Further, the locations, orientation and directionality of the lines will be generally random, or if a pattern exists in the lines, the pattern will be such that its repetitive nature minimizes its distractiveness by blending into the picture maze when the maze is viewed from a distance. As can be ascertained from
As will become apparent from the description below, the opacity of the pathways (or lighter border areas as in the case of the maze 5 of
All the mazes provided as examples herein are hand-drawn and subsequently scanned into a computer to create a digital image file. However, the mazes can be created by any suitable means. For instance, mazes can be created directly in the computer using appropriate software such as but not limited to a paint program. Also a Wacom™ tablet or similar can be used to draw the mazes directly to a computer file.
Pictures should also be avoided wherein a portion of the picture is the same color as the pathways, which could cause the pathway to become imperceptible in the resulting picture maze. It is to be appreciated, however, that a creator can change the background color of the pathways to be different from a particular problematic color in the chosen picture.
While only photographs are provided as examples, the pictures used to create picture mazes can comprise of any digital image whether it is created, edited or produced by image-editing software, scanned or otherwise captured, such as with a digital camera or Wacom tablet, to create a digital image file. For instance, images of paintings, animations and clip-art can be used to create picture mazes.
At least one passageway along the lines is provided between two different entry locations, although a number of passageways from a start entry location to an end entry location can be provided. The grayscale color as well as the contrast (or intensity) of the maze lines vary over the surface of the picture maze from a very light gray in the pedal region of the flower to nearly black in portions of the photo's background.
Over the entire surface of the
The picture maze 130 of
The picture mazes 115-125 of
In the picture maze 120 of
The picture maze 125 of
Method of Creating a Picture Maze
A block diagram 200 is provided in
Initially, the creator identifies a suitable photograph and maze that he/she desires to combine as indicated in block 205. If the images are not digitized already, the creator scans them to create a suitable computer image file as indicated in block 210. Suitable image file formats include but are not limited to JPEG, TIFF and GIF. Of course, if the images are already in digital format, the scanning operation can be bypassed.
Referring to block 215, the creator opens the image files for both the maze and the picture in an image editing program, such as but not limited Adobe Photoshop™ or JASC Paint Shop Pro™. As necessary, the picture and/or maze images are cropped and resized so that they have similar if not identical pixel dimensions. Typically, only the white space around the maze image is cropped away as cropping any of the maze would be detrimental to the maze's functionality. Preferably, the picture image is cropped so that its aspect ratio is generally the same as that of the maze.
Referring to block 220, the creator removes the lines from the maze image file leaving only the opaque pathways, which are typically white or lightly colored. Effectively, the portion of the maze image that comprised the lines is effectively transparent to anything below it. In Photoshop 5.5, this operation is accomplished by selecting the “Color Range” menu option in the Select menu. In the “Color Range” box that opens, select the check boxes for “Highlights” and “Images, None” and click the “OK” button. This is not a required operation but is preferred. In another variation of the methodology, the lines are not removed from the maze, but rather the opacity of the maze is adjusted as a whole (see the description concerning block 240 below).
Next, as indicated in block 225, the creator then adjusts the saturation of the image to maximize its visibility when combined with the maze but not too much such that the image in the resulting picture maze appears overly saturated. In Photoshop 5.5 this is accomplished by selecting the “Adjust”/“Hue Saturation” menu options under the “Image” menu, and moving the provided saturation sliders until the desired levels are achieved.
Referring to block 230, the maze image is then moved on top of the picture image and the two are aligned relative to each other. In Photoshop 5.5 this is accomplished by clicking and dragging the maze image over the picture image using the “Move Tool”. The picture image may also be moved on top of the maze image. If the creator chooses this alternative, before moving the picture over the maze, the creator may want to reduce the opacity of the picture temporarily so that the creator can see the maze image located below it while aligning the two images. After the creator is done aligning the two images, the opacity of the picture image should be set back to 100%.
If the creator chooses to move the picture image on top of the maze image, then at this point, the work in the image editing program comprises two layers: a first layer comprising the lineless maze image; and a second layer overlaying the first layer comprising the picture image. In block 235, the creator switches the relative positions of the layers so that the second layer is underneath the first layer. Once this is done, image information from the underlying picture will show through the maze layer in the portions wherein the lines were previously removed, but the pathways remain opaque. In Photoshop 5.5, the layers are switched by simply indicating the desired order of the layers in the “Layer” dialog box. If the creator chooses to move the maze image on top of the picture image, then this step is not necessary.
Next, the creator as desired adjusts the opacity of the maze layer and specifically the pathways in the maze layer as indicated in block 240 thereby allowing some of the image data of the picture layer to show through the pathway portions. It is appreciated that the opacity should not be reduced so much that the line and pathway portions of the resulting picture maze blur. In other words, contrast between any particular pathway and its adjacent lines should be maintained. To change the opacity of the maze layer in Photoshop 5.5, the creator chooses the layer in the “Layer” dialog box and adjusts the opacity using the slider provided in the dialog box or by entering the desired numerical percentage of opacity in the provided data entry box.
As indicated in block 245, the creator makes any desired final adjustments to the picture maze including but not limited to the brightness, sharpness and contrast of one or both layers and when satisfied with the result, he/she merges or flattens the layers to create a single layerless picture maze image as indicated in block 250. The image is then saved in any desired format including JPEG, TIFF and GIFF as indicated in block 255. Finally with reference to block 260, a copy can then be printed on paper or any other suitable substrate as desired.
The methodology recited above is exemplary; however, some of the operations may be omitted or accomplished in a different manner depending on the particular image editing program utilized. Further, one of ordinary skill in the art of using any suitable image editing program may utilize a methodology that varies from the specific methodology described herein.
The embodiments of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying figures and described above are merely exemplary and are not meant to limit the scope of the invention. It is to be appreciated that numerous variations to the invention have been contemplated as would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art with the benefit of this disclosure. All variations of the invention that read upon the appended claims are intended and contemplated to be within the scope of the invention.
Although the picture mazes described herein are described as being printed on a paper or other thin substrate, alternative embodiment picture mazes can be formed by any suitable means on any suitable substrate. For instance, a picture maze image can be formed on a cloth substrate using embroidery digital image files created for automated computer control embroidery apparatus. The images can be burned, engraved or printed on wood substrates. Further, the picture maze can be etched on glass or engraved on plastic. Additionally, the digital image file of the picture maze can be displayed electronically on a monitor or other suitable display means. Any number of other substrates and imprinting processes can also be utilized as would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art with the benefit of this disclosure.