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Where the jigsaw-puzzle faces came from

For several years now, I’ve been drawings faces in my sketchbooks.I got started because I thought it might sharpen my powers of observation and be fun. I was right about both. Now I sketch at least a dozen faces each week. I find that I pay more attention to interesting faces these days.

I draw from photographs or from people I see face to face. If I see an interesting face in a movie, I pause the film and do a sketch (Dr. Fu Manchu). If I see an intriguing face in a magazine article, I’ll do a pencil sketch in my notebook (young Ernest Hemingway). If I'm stuck in a boring meeting, I’ll draw some of the people in the room (co-worker Barbara). 

Dr. Fu Manchu, young Ernest Hemingway, and Barbara.
Dr. Fu Manchu, young Ernest Hemingway, and Barbara.


After several years of this, my drawing skills are a little better and I have several thousand faces in my sketchbooks. 

Asking for volunteers. As I neared the end of my effort to design a jigsaw puzzle with hundreds of faces, I thought it might be fun to add a few faces of fans. So, back in June, I used social media to invite people who follow my work to be included in the puzzle. 

All they had to do was send me a good selfie. Based on previous social-media appeals, I thought I’d get a half dozen responses. I was wrong. In the end, nearly 100 people submitted photos. Far more than I could use. Some of the source photos weren’t good enough to use and some were late. But many were just what I wanted. Lovely faces. So, I ended up drawing more than 30 new faces instead of the six I had planned.

Here’s my process. 1] Find source. 2] Pencil sketch. 3] Ink with my trusty brush pen. 4] Add color in Adobe Illustrator.

Jon becoming part of the puzzle.
Jon becoming part of the puzzle.


It means that some of the people who work on solving this puzzle will have a triple treat. First assembling the puzzle, then finding the look-alikes, and finally, finding themselves. That’s a lot of entertainment from a single puzzle.

A few of the volunteers.
A few of the volunteers.

Whether you are in the puzzle or not, I think you’ll enjoy the challenge. And it makes a superb gift because it is fun and easy to wrap.

Until November 25, 2016, you can get Evil Twin Jigsaw Puzzles by supporting the Kickstarter project. After that, you’ll be able to pre-order puzzles here on this website.


1 Response

Erin O'Brien

November 19, 2018

Welp, a friend just sent me Evil Twin and Bad Neighborhood, so I am pretty much inflated with joy.

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