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Publication numberUS20070004492 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/172,115
Publication dateJan 4, 2007
Filing dateJun 30, 2005
Priority dateJun 30, 2005
Publication number11172115, 172115, US 2007/0004492 A1, US 2007/004492 A1, US 20070004492 A1, US 20070004492A1, US 2007004492 A1, US 2007004492A1, US-A1-20070004492, US-A1-2007004492, US2007/0004492A1, US2007/004492A1, US20070004492 A1, US20070004492A1, US2007004492 A1, US2007004492A1
InventorsElaine Salmento
Original AssigneeElaine Salmento
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Picture maze and method of generating the picture maze
US 20070004492 A1
Abstract
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.
Images(17)
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Claims(20)
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 claim 1, wherein the predetermined image is a photograph.
3. The amusement puzzle of claim 1, wherein plurality of lines comprises at least about 25% of a total area of the top surface.
4. The amusement puzzle of claim 1, wherein the limited number of passageways comprise one or more lines extending between one or more entry locations.
5. The amusement puzzle of claim 1, wherein one or both the color and intensity of the labyrinth of pathways varies along lengths of the pathways to form a predetermined image.
6. The amusement puzzle of claim 1, wherein the substantial majority of the plurality of lines do not form any readily discernable patterns other than those resulting from the variations in one or both of the color and intensity of the lines.
7. The amusement puzzle of claim 1, wherein the lines are rendered in grayscale and the intensity of the plurality of lines vary.
8. The amusement puzzle of claim 1, wherein the lines are rendered in color and both the intensity and colors of the plurality of lines vary.
9. The amusement puzzle of claim 1, wherein the labyrinth of pathways are of a generally uniform color and intensity.
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 claim 10, wherein the maze is printed on a substrate.
12. The picture maze of claim 10, wherein the maze is etched on a substrate.
13. The picture maze of claim 10, wherein the maze is woven on a substrate.
14. The picture maze of claim 10, wherein the maze is electronically displayed.
15. The picture maze of claim 10, wherein the picture maze is computer generated by combining a digital image with a digitized maze to create a picture maze file and producing the picture maze file on a substrate.
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 claim 16 further comprising:
reducing the opacity of the picture maze image.
18. The method of claim 16, wherein the image editing program is one of JASC Paint shop™ and Adobe Photoshop™.
19. The method of claim 16 further comprising:
producing the picture maze.
20. The method of claim 16 further comprising:
digitizing one or both the maze and the picture to create picture maze image files.
Description
FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to amusement puzzles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

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 FIG. 1. However, printed mazes are also well known wherein the lines and paths and the arrangement thereof form a picture. In some variations, the lines and pathways are contained within the outline of an object as shown in prior art FIG. 2. In other variations, the spatial organization of the lines and pathways themselves provide the picture as shown in prior art FIG. 3. In yet other variations, a scene or picture will be provided and a section of the picture will include a maze rendered or drawn over the particular section such as in prior art FIG. 4.

SUMMARY

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.

DRAWINGS—FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a typical prior art maze.

FIG. 2 is another prior art maze wherein the outline of the maze is an object or other recognizable character.

FIG. 3 is yet another prior art maze wherein the lines and their spatial organization form an image such as the illustrated lamb.

FIG. 4 is prior art maze wherein a picture is first provided and a maze is drawn or rendered on portions of the picture such as those areas that are white or light in color.

FIG. 5 is one type of maze utilized to create a picture maze according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is another maze utilized to create a picture maze according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is an amalgamation of eight types of mazes that can be utilized to create picture mazes according to other embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a photograph that can be utilized to create a picture maze according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is another photograph that can be utilized to create a picture maze according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is yet another photograph that can be utilized to create a picture maze according to other embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a picture maze according to one embodiment incorporating the photograph of FIG. 8 and the maze of FIG. 5.

FIGS. 12-14 are picture mazes according to other embodiments incorporating the photograph of FIG. 9 and the maze of FIG. 6 wherein the opacity of the maze pathways vary and the image of FIG. 14 is inverted.

FIG. 15 is picture maze according to yet another embodiment incorporating the photograph of FIG. 10 and the maze of FIG. 7.

FIG. 16 is a flow chart indicating the creation of a picture maze according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DRAWINGS—REFERENCE NUMERALS

  • 5 A maze demonstrating closely packed, curvaceous lines as pathways
  • 10 Start entry location
  • 15 End entry location
  • 20 Closely packed lines
  • 25 Closely packed network of pathways
  • 30 Small line V-shape pattern
  • 35 Small line circular pattern
  • 40 Small line star-shaped pattern
  • 45 A maze demonstrating closely packed, curvaceous lines as pathway borders
  • 50 Lines in the form of plus-sign shapes
  • 55 Lines in the form of square and rectangular shapes
  • 60 Lines in the form of angular shapes
  • 65 Lines in the form of horizontally parallel lines
  • 70 Lines in the form of curvaceous, non-linear, small lines
  • 75 Lines in the form of long curvaceous, wave-like shapes
  • 80 Lines in the form of curvaceous, irregular blob shapes
  • 85 Lines in the form of curvaceous, circular blob shapes
  • 90 A maze demonstrating eight types of maze lines as pathway borders
  • 95 Photograph of a flower
  • 100 Photograph of flags
  • 105 Photograph of an elephant
  • 110 Picture maze combination of maze 5 of FIG. 5 and photograph 95 of FIG. 8
  • 115 Picture maze combination of maze 45 of FIG. 6 and photograph 100 of FIG. 9 using 100% opacity
  • 120 Picture maze combination of maze 45 of FIG. 6 and photograph 100 of FIG. 9 using 70% opacity
  • 125 Inverted version of picture maze 120 of FIG. 13
  • 130 Picture maze combination of maze 90 of FIG. 7 and photograph 105 of FIG. 10
  • 135 Window
  • 140 United States flag
  • 145 Lighthouse light
DETAILED DESCRIPTION

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 FIGS. 2 & 3), or the images underlie the maze's lines which are drawn rendered on top of the image (see FIG. 4).

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.

Terminology

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 FIG. 7 are considered to be “lines”. In certain embodiments, the lines can also comprise the path or passageway of the maze as shown in FIG. 5 and the resulting picture maze of FIG. 11.

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 FIG. 5) a user follows to solve the maze, the area bounded by the lines is not technically considered a “pathway”. Nonetheless, for understanding this disclosure, the lighter regions between the lines of such mazes as illustrated in FIG. 5 should be considered “pathways” in so much as they represent the portion of the maze that is bounded by lines. Any path or pathway may terminate in a dead end.

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

FIGS. 5-7 are illustrations of mazes 5, 45 & 90 that can be utilized to produce a picture maze. In general, any type of maze is suitable depending on how the opacity and saturation of the maze image and the picture image respectively are adjusted. Preferably, each maze includes one or more entry locations into the network of pathways. The entry locations such as the start(s) 10 and end 15 shown in FIGS. 5 & 6 can be located at the edge of the maze or specific locations can be provided within the maze image (not shown). While not an absolute requirement of all embodiments, it is preferable that at least one continuous pathway is provided between two entry locations such as the start(s) 10 and the end (15). Specifically concerning FIG. 5, the lines themselves form the pathway(s) and the lighter areas between the lines serves are the borders thereto.

The mazes 5 & 45 of FIGS. 5 and 6 are generally similar except in the maze 5 of FIG. 5 the lines form the pathway(s) whereas the maze 45 of FIG. 6 is more traditional with the pathway(s) extending between the lines. They comprise a plurality of closely packed lines 20 that are substantially non-linear. Further, the lines are generally not parallel with an adjacent line for more than a short distance. The lines are further characterized by many radiused turns. When viewed from a distance (such as about 12″ or more from the paper in the case of FIGS. 5 & 6), a person can typically see no readably discernable regular pattern to the lines. Put another way, the lines when viewed from a distance form a random noise pattern. Accordingly, the lines do not appreciably distract from the picture when viewed from a distance.

As seen specifically in FIG. 5, several small line patterns 30, 35 & 40 can be introduced into the maze to add variety and interest to the maze. The first pattern 30 illustrates several nested linear line portions that intersect in points. The second pattern 35 comprises several nested circular line portions. The third pattern 40 comprises a star shaped line. However, it is preferable that the size of the patterns should typically be relatively small in area compared to the overall area of the maze, so that they do not substantially distract from the picture when the picture is merged therewith.

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 FIG. 7 is divided into eight sections with each section illustrating a different type of maze that can be used in the generation of a picture maze. In the first section 50, the lines of the maze resemble plus signs of varying size with the pathways extending between the plus signs. The plus signs are somewhat randomly positioned on the maze such that the maze configuration does not substantially detract from the picture when a resulting picture maze is viewed from a distance.

In the second section 55 of the FIG. 7 maze, the lines of maze comprise square and/or rectangular elements that are distributed over the maze and vary in size. Some of the elements stand alone while others intersect or merge with neighboring elements. Like the plus sign lines in the first section, the rectangles and squares are generally randomly distributed over the surface of the maze to minimize the distractiveness of the maze when viewing a picture of an associated picture maze.

In the third section 60 of the FIG. 7 maze, the lines form angular intersecting pieces comprising substantially linear sides that terminate in acutely-angled intersections. The organization of the angular pieces is also generally random to minimize the distractiveness of the maze when viewing a picture of an associated picture maze.

The forth section 65 of the FIG. 7 maze comprises a series of horizontally parallel lines of varying thicknesses and start and end points. The start and end points are randomly distributed as is the thickness of the lines in each row; however, the horizontal parallel lines by their nature form a readily discernable pattern. The regularity of the pattern minimizes the distractiveness of the maze when viewing a picture of an associated picture maze from a distance.

The fifth section of the maze is substantially similar to the lines discussed above with reference to FIGS. 5 & 6.

The sixth, seventh and eighth sections 75, 80 & 85 of the FIG. 7 maze contrast with the first three sections in that the sides of the lines are substantially non-linear and curvaceous. The sixth section comprises generally horizontally flowing lines with a measurable width that tend to terminate in a spiral. Because of the generally horizontal and spiraling nature of the lines, the maze pattern does not appear particularly random. However, the lines are typically significantly thicker than the pathways and represent a greater area percentage of the maze than other types of mazes such as the mazes of FIGS. 5 & 6 as well as the fifth section 70. Accordingly, since a significant amount of picture imaging information is provided in the resulting picture maze, the distractive nature of the lines patterns is visually minimized to an acceptable level.

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 FIG. 15 which merges FIG. 7 and FIG. 10 into a picture maze, it becomes readily apparent that the distractive nature of patterns in the lines can be negated somewhat be having the lines cover a greater percentage of the maze's surface area as indicated, for example, by the sixth section 75.

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 FIG. 5) also affects the suitability of a particular maze in a picture maze. Effectively, by lowering the opacity of the pathways, a creator can cause a portion of a picture's image data to be transmitted through the pathways. Ideally, a level of opacity is chosen that maintains adequate contrast between each pathway and it adjacent lines.

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.

The Pictures

FIGS. 8-10 are illustrations of photographs 95, 100 & 105 that can be utilized as pictures in a picture maze according to one embodiment of the present invention. Any picture can be utilized to produce a picture maze; however, because some of the picture's image data will be lost in the regions of the maze comprising the pathways, pictures that do not substantially lose their visual appeal when significant amounts of image data is missing are preferred. Specifically, images that are not highly detailed are preferred to highly detailed images. For example, the flower 95 of FIG. 8 is ideal given its general simplicity. Likewise, pictures having intricate patterns that can be broken up by a pathway traversing the intricate section of the picture should generally be avoided. As described in greater detail below, however, some of the issues relating to highly detailed images can be ameliorated by adjusting the opacity of the pathways to provide more of the picture's image data in the resulting picture maze.

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.

Picture Mazes

FIGS. 11-15 illustrate five picture mazes according to embodiments of the present invention. The picture maze 1 10 of FIG. 111 comprises the maze 5 of FIG. 5 and the photograph 95 of FIG. 8. The picture maze retains all of the features of the associated maze including two or more entry locations 10 & 15 and a network of pathways 25 bordered by a corresponding network of lines 20. Further, the picture can be easily viewed, and from a distance of several feet or more the picture image becomes the viewer's primary focus with the maze itself becoming less noticeable. As mentioned above concerning maze 5 of FIG. 5, the lines serve as the passageways between the entry locations of this maze, accordingly as used in reference to FIG. 11, the term “pathways” refers only to the space between adjacent lines.

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 FIG. 11 picture maze, each pathway is lighter in grayscale color and intensity than its neighboring and bordering lines. However, the pathways also vary in grayscale color and intensity such that the pathways are darker in the background section of the photo when compared to the pedal sections of the photo. As described in more detail below, this was accomplished by reducing the opacity of the pathways a certain amount but not enough so that the pathways blend with the lines.

The picture maze 130 of FIG. 15 comprises the maze 90 of FIG. 7 and the photograph 105 of FIG. 10. Because of the various maze sections 50-85 illustrated in this picture maze, it is more difficult for a viewer to focus on the photo of the elephant. Rather the viewer tends to focus on the changes between the maze patterns of the various sections. It is appreciated that this picture maze is merely an example to illustrate how a picture will be rendered for each of the maze types and that it is unlikely that such a picture maze would be created other than for demonstrative purposes. Of particular interest is how the portion of the photo in each section is rendered. The amount of picture image detail varies according to the respective ratio of line area to pathway area for each type of maze. For instance, where the ratio is highest, such as in the sixth section 75, more picture image detail is rendered than in the fifth section 70 where the ratio is considerably lower. Of particular note for each of the sections in this picture maze, the pathways are fully opaque.

The picture mazes 115-125 of FIGS. 12-14 are each comprised of the maze 45 of FIG. 6 and the photograph 100 of FIG. 9. They differ in the adjustments made to the picture maze and collectively demonstrate how a picture maze using the same combination of a picture and a maze can vary by changing various parameters. In FIG. 12, the pathways are completely opaque and as such much of the detail of the United States flag 140 cannot be discerned. Further, it is difficult to tell that the window 135 on the pictured tower is a window even when looking at the picture maze from several feet away. Generally, for pictures having areas of fine detail, the opacity of the pathways will be reduced especially when the ratio of line area to pathway area in the maze is relatively low.

In the picture maze 120 of FIG. 13, the opacity of the pathways are reduced to 70% meaning that the pathways are about 30% transparent to the photograph layered below. The window 135 and United States flag 140 can be more clearly made out by a viewer and their still is sufficient contrast between the pathways and the lines so that the usability of the maze is not lost. But even with the opacity adjustment, the very fine details in the picture can not be solved such as the star field in the United States Flag and the lattice work over the glass shell 145 around the lighthouse light located on the tower. The loss of picture detail may or may not be important to the resulting picture and accordingly, the maze's creator will choose the type of maze and the type of picture to complement his/her desired end result.

The picture maze 125 of FIG. 14 is simply an inverted version of the picture maze 120 of FIG. 13. As the picture maze has been primarily described herein, the pathways are lighter in color and intensity than the lines of the maze that comprise all or a substantial portion of the picture image detail. In variations, as indicated in FIG. 14, the pathways can be the darker portion of the picture maze with the lines being the lighter portion.

Method of Creating a Picture Maze

A block diagram 200 is provided in FIG. 16 outlining the typical operations involved in creating a picture maze according to one embodiment of the present invention.

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.

Alternative Embodiments and Other Variations

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.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7976098 *Dec 14, 2009Jul 12, 2011Mazda Motor CompanySide vehicle-body structure of vehicle
US8111872 *Feb 19, 2008Feb 7, 2012Altek CorporationImage maze generating system and method thereof
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/15
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationA63F2250/285, A63F9/0078, A63F2009/246
European ClassificationA63F9/00L