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Gradient Puzzles Intimidate You?

What do you think of gradient puzzles? When I first started to notice them popping up, my first initial thought was, “but there’s no artwork.” Doing a puzzle without an image seemed like it would be boring but also difficult. Little did I know at the time, I would absolutely love them. Now this style of puzzle may not be for everyone. However, there’s something to be said of just doing a puzzle of pure color. Not only is it incredibly relaxing but it has helped me see variations in hues a lot easier for other elements of puzzling, such as a sunset sky, large bodies of water, or landscapes to a far-off horizon. 

Pure puzzle

Pure by Clementoni

Jumping right into a fully gradient puzzle such as Pure by Clementoni may be a bit of a challenge if you are not used to this style of puzzle.  I thought it would be helpful to give you some tips and tricks on how to get started and included different variations of gradient puzzles that may be a bit more approachable.


Tip #1: Start off with Colorful Objects

Circle of flowers puzzle

Circle of Colors - Flowers by Ravensburger

Most of us know the colors of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue & Violet. Knowing the order of these colors is crucial when trying to complete a gradient puzzle. Puzzling artwork that uses the colors of the rainbow with actual objects is a great place to start. The series Circle of Colors by Ravensburger is one my favorite collections that showcases this. Whether it is flowers, fruit and vegetablessea creatures, or ice cream, this series has the fun artwork while also can be used as an exercise to puzzle color by color. Needlework Station by Ravensburger is also a great option for this as well. What I like about this image is there are few areas in the puzzle that test your rainbow skills. You have the primary rainbow colors within the yarn and pompoms, but it also has more subtle differences within the threads.

Crayola Dripping in color puzzle

Crayola Dripping in Color by Springbok

Carbonated color puzzle

Carbonated Color by Springbok

Crayola Dripping in Color and Carbonated Color, both by Springbok, are great approachable rainbow puzzles that include more of those in between colors. It has the solid items of crayons but also has more of a chunky mixed drip of color. The colors are very vibrant and still have clear differences but includes more of those in-between colors.

Tip #2 Try a Smaller Piece Count

Plumes of Color puzzle

Plumes of Color by Buffalo Games

This can go for anytime you are trying to branch out of your normal puzzling style, but you may benefit by trying a smaller piece count. I love 300- or 500-piece puzzles when trying something new. It helps me figure out strategy before having to deal with a larger piece count. One of my first gradient puzzles was a 300 piece by Buffalo Games called Plumes of Color. This was a bit more challenging than those with just colorful objects. The image included more of that traditional gradient but still stuck with the basic rainbow colors.

Chunky Rainbow puzzle

Chunky Rainbow by Buffalo Games

Moving up to Chunky Rainbow by Buffalo Games was an easy transition. The image still has very, well chunky blocks of color. There are a lot more variations of colors instead of the traditional ROYGBV. Using fewer bold colors or blocked out colors help with seeing different hues and a step towards the blending that comes with gradient puzzles.


Tip #3: Be careful of Dark/White Areas

Discontinued Color Wheel

Discontinued Color Wheel by Blue Kazoo

This tip may be specific to the individual but knowing how well you do at seeing dark or light colors may help you decide which gradient puzzle is best for you. For example, over my puzzling career I’ve noticed, that I struggle with seeing detail or variations of colors when it goes dark. When I did a now discontinued color wheel by Blue Kazoo a few years ago, the center was horrible! I could not see the subtle differences in the shades of black. The whole center was all the same to me.

cube puzzle

Gradient Cube by Grateful House

Gradient Cube by Grateful House to others may be a more challenging puzzle for the opposite reason. The center of this puzzle is a very pale whitish color. I can see different subtleties within the shades of white, but others may not. If you like the style of imagery and haven’t noticed any challenges for either spectrum or if you just want the color without the white/black areas, Rainbow by Educa may be the solution. I loved this puzzle because the colors are all equal in size and it doesn’t go to the light/dark areas. It’s just fun and colorful without one color having way more pieces than the other… This reminds me of the next tip…

Rainbow puzzle

Rainbow by Educa

Tip #4: Make Sure the Colors are Balanced in Size

What I’m writing about in this tip is to make sure when looking at the image that the size or number of pieces of each color seem equal. When I first started to put together Krypt Gradient by Ravensburger. At first, I was enjoying myself as I flew through the puzzle. Going in a counterclockwise pattern I quickly started at the yellow and continued to blue. Then, I got to the green section. When looking at this puzzle now, I’m realizing how unbalanced this puzzle is. There was only a handful or orange and pink pieces, even blue has a small little corner. However, the green pieces in the puzzle ended up being almost half of the entire puzzle.

Krypt gradient puzzle

Krypt Gradient by Ravensburger

Now, you may be huge fan of green so this may be right up your ally, or maybe you like the challenge. For me, it was a bit too subtle and took sorting by piece shape and lots of trial and error to get the puzzle complete. 

Tip #5: Sorting is the Key

sorting puzzles by colors

Now, if you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos, it is no surprise that I HATE sorting pieces. However, that is different for gradient puzzles. Sorting just by color is somewhat relaxing but also, it makes doing the puzzle so much easier! Here is an example of my typical sorting when it comes to gradient puzzles. with  Gradient by Clementoni. I sort first into two piles warm vs cool colors. Warm colors are those that remind me of a sunset; Yellow, Orange, Coral, Reds, and some pinks. Cool colors remind me of water or marine colors; Blue, Teals, Greens, and Purples. If you are unsure which is which, when looking at your rainbow colors, warmer colors are the top of a rainbow and cool are the bottom colors of a rainbow.

Sorting into piles by color makes the pieces a lot more manageable. You may end with pieces that could go in either. So, in that case, I prioritize a particular color. For example: If a piece has both red and orange, I prioritize red. If you still end up with some in-between colors, you can always keep a pile for them as well. (like my pile in the top right of pastel colors)


Tip #6: Follow the colors in order

puzzle in process

For me it has always been easiest to pick a corner of the puzzle and go in one direction. For this puzzle I started at the top left (purple) area. Starting with one color helps me see the gradients a lot easier than jumping from one color to the other. I will take the collection of pieces, often I work my way more by piece shape than color. If you have a hard time seeing the subtle differences in color, you may want to look at the pieces at a different angle. Maybe bend down or tilt your head to the side. This has helped me quite a bit to see the changes in color. 

Gradient puzzle

Gradient by Clementoni

So those are some tips if you are wanting to know how to approach gradient puzzles. For me, they are very relaxing and more mindless than having to follow a picture or image. I can just see the colors and work off the pieces. Let me know your thoughts and if you have additional tips, you’d like to share leave them in the comments!!

Emilee Frost @thecasualpuzzler

Comments - Add Comment 5.0 Stars 3
5 Stars
Barbie W. - Chincoteague Island, VA

Thanks I learned a lot!!

5 Stars
Alyssa Z. - Stevenson Ranch, CA

I love gradient puzzles!!! I’ve done most of these and I completely agree, they are very relaxing!

5 Stars
Sheila - Bentonville Ar

Great article

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