Learn how to do a jigsaw puzzle like a pro with these 6 easy tips on how to make your puzzle journey easier, faster and hassle free. And if you already started a puzzle and find yourself stuck, we included some tips for you too.
1. Choose The Right Spot, Surface And Lighting For Your Puzzle
As with most things, getting the basics right matter and this includes puzzling. First, make sure that you start your puzzle somewhere where you can keep it until completed. If you don’t have a good spot, start your puzzle on a puzzle mat, tray or table so that you can easily move your puzzle around. These puzzle accessories can be great if you like your space clutter-free in between puzzle sessions.
Second, make sure that the surface you place your puzzle on is clean and smooth so that your puzzles does not grip onto anything unwanted.
Third, choose an area that has good natural light or great lamps because when it comes to sorting your puzzle pieces and noticing patterns and colour variations, you will appreciate all the good lighting you can get!
2. Sort The Puzzle Pieces
Once you have found a spot for your puzzle, it is time to start sorting your puzzle pieces. Keep your pieces in their original bag or box for this process and start by grabbing a handful of them and sorting the pieces one by one into different categories such as:
- Edge Pieces (pieces with a straight edge on one side or an outer corner piece)
- Motifs (people, plants and items)
Your sorting does not have to be perfect, but the better it is, the more of a helpful overview you get. This helps you figure out what puzzle piece goes where and it often helps you discover a few piece combinations straight away!
The larger the puzzle, the more important (and messy) sorting becomes as pieces from larger puzzles usually have less colour variation and patterns to follow. But for any large or small puzzle, it is a great way to get a headstart on your puzzle journey!
3. Start With The Edges Of Your Puzzle
With your pieces sorted, it is finally time to put your puzzle together. Here you can start piecing together whatever pieces you prefer, but the most common strategy is to start putting the edge of the puzzle together. Doing the edge, or the frame, of the puzzle first, is beneficial as it helps you get an idea of how large the puzzle is and where different parts of the puzzle could be placed.
If you realise that you have missed an edge piece or two when sorting, and your frame is incomplete, you can move on to the next step. The missing edge pieces usually appear quickly enough when puzzling!
4. Follow The Patterns, Colours And Imagery
With the pieces sorted and the frame of the puzzle done, it is time to start putting your puzzle together. There is no need to start at a particular place but the easiest way can often be to start with pieces of a motif that clearly belongs together (whether it is a motif with a distinct pattern, colour or imagery). Once you have pieced together a few pieces or completed a motif, place it where it belongs within the puzzle frame and continue the process until you have no pieces left.
As you puzzle, you will notice your eyes becoming more attuned to the shapes of puzzle pieces and it will get easier to naturally understand what shape fits where. It’s one of the many benefits of puzzling.
5. What To Do If You Get Stuck On A Jigsaw puzzle
If you have followed the earlier instructions and feel stuck, the best thing to do is to take a break. Staring at something for too long, never does anyone any good and that includes staring at your puzzle. After some rest, you can usually spot the pieces that you were looking for earlier much easier.
6. But What If I’m Still Stuck On My Puzzle?
If you still feel stuck after a break, it is time to re-sort the pieces you have left. As there are usually fewer pieces left when re-sorting, it is time to sort the remaining ones in a more precise manner. You can keep sorting per motif (colour, pattern and imagery) whilst this time also focusing on sorting and displaying the pieces by their piece shape. This process takes time but makes it easier for your brain to spot and identify where the remaining pieces should be placed.
This re-sorting process is especially helpful when it comes to gradient- or monochromatic puzzles as you are as aided by the shape of the puzzle piece as the colour of it.
However, re-sorting according to piece shape is mostly useful for ribbon-cut puzzles and does not apply equally well to random-cut puzzles, as the irregular shapes of the pieces cannot be sorted according to shape in the same way. If you are working on an irregular-cut puzzle, instead re-sort the colours, patterns and imagery.
If you want to get faster at puzzling, you can learn more about how to solve a puzzle fast here.
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