Personalized jigsaw puzzle pieces - whimsies - figurals - figure pieces - Personalized jigsaw puzzles - custom jigsaw puzzle pieces - customized jigsaw puzzles

Figurals / Whimsies

Personalized jigsaw puzzle pieces / Custom puzzle pieces

Photo Jigsaw Puzzles

What is a Figural?
(Also known as a whimsies / figure shaped piece)

The answer is quite simple... a Figural is a single jigsaw puzzle piece or a small group of jigsaw puzzle pieces within a full jigsaw puzzle that resembles an object of some kind, in the form of a silhouette. Some of the more common shapes used are those of dogs, cats, flowers, birds, tools, cars, other animals... the list is seemingly endless!

Why are Figurals so desirable?

When a person commissions a custom cut wooden jigsaw puzzle to be made, one of the primary reasons they do this is because the puzzle maker is custom cutting the puzzle just for them. As part of the design feature of the puzzle, carefully selected Figurals play an important part of the personalizing process. Whether the person is buying the puzzle for them self, or as a special gift to a family member or friend, the figure pieces are chosen so that they reflect the interests of the future owner.

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For just about any person's profession, personality or hobbies there are numerous figure shapes that will capture the essence of who that person is. Selecting them is not always simple. A well crafted puzzle will have serious thought put into the appropriate selection of these pieces. Ideally, the image that is being use for the puzzle should come into the equation.

crab puzzle pieceIf there is an ocean, pond or lake in the puzzle, Figurals like whales, dolphins, fish, boats, fish hooks, crabs, lobsters, octopus and other creatures of water are ideal figure pieces to be cut into these areas of the image.

In cases of sky, things like birds in flight, airplanes, and kites make great figure pieces. Scenarios like these are endless, with endless variations of Figurals.

Figurals do not always have to be objects... they can also be Names and Dates. Names are commonly used, however dates tend to be cut into puzzles that are birthday, anniversary and retirement gifts, to mark a moment in time that is significant to the puzzle recipient.

What is an Interactive Figural?

An interactive figural is something very special. It involves the direct interaction or connection of several different objects to completely express that particular image.

In the case to the left, can you guess what the completed image is? Stop reading this for a second, to give it a try... then click on the image to the right to see if you were right.

Ok.. whether you guessed right or not, I think you now understand. The pieces to the right are obviously a child, a dog, a wagon, and wagon handle (attached to the child's one arm in this case). When assembled it is a scene of a child pulling his / her dog in a wagon.

It is the thoughtful design and placement of interactive pieces like this, that can make a puzzle all that more special. Generally these interactive pieces are used in larger puzzles, as they tend to consume a reasonable amount of space, of several inches by several inches in horizontal and vertical area.

Figure shaped puzzle pieces

What is a Complex Figural?

A complex figural in one where there are several pieces used to comprise the image. Unlike the Interactive example above, these pieces generally do NOT have free standing or recognizable shapes of their own. In this example to the left, the Lobster Claws are the only thing recognizable on their own, however the lobster only comes to fruition when all the pieces are put together, and the image emerges before your eyes.

In the example to the right, I used a very subtle and simple technique, where the butterfly itself is one solid piece, however if you look closely, the adjacent piece contains the two antennae from the butterfly's head. The subtle cut lines into the adjacent piece add the "special" effect that again makes the puzzle more interesting.

This puzzle was nearly 500 pieces in size.

Note the ruler at the bottom
for dimension perspective.

Is the location of the Figurals important?

In most cases the answer is YES. As I mentioned above, birds fly in the sky, fish swim in the water etc. It would be odd to see a fish cut into an image where it is located on the roof of a house, or in a tree. In the puzzle example to the left, my customer and I were creative in the choice and placement of this puzzle's figure pieces.

If you click on the image to the left, a more detailed scan can be seen, showing all of the following. (Look closely... I did not make a huge 2nd image because it would have taken for ever for you to load.)

007 - Located in James Bond's forehead, representing his agent code name.
Inspector with magnifying glass - magnifying the chest of the belly dancer.
Agent Hand Gun - being pointed at the inspector by the belly dancer.
Martini Glass - perfectly located over the lower cufflink so that the cufflink appears to be a pimento stuffed olive at the bottom of the martini.
An Octopus - Located appropriately near the belly dancer's skirt for reasons I'll let you figure out... (A little adult humor for James Bond fans... oops.)
Sickle and Hammer (Russian Symbol) - located over the word Russia
Provocative women figures - appropriately located through out the puzzle to represent 007's love for beautiful women.
My "LEFT" facing signature piece - My signature piece is hand signed and numbered indicating that I made the puzzle, however this one is facing to the "left" which indicates that my customer was the one who selected the image for this puzzle. The only time I cut "right" facing signature pieces into my puzzles, is if I was the one who selected the image, or if it is an image that my customer selected from my web site, or from my personal collection of art prints when they visited my puzzle workshop.

How do I order Figurals in my puzzle?

With all of my puzzles cut in the traditional and nightmare styles, I complimentarily include 2 figural pieces per 100 pieces of puzzle, if indicated on my order form, FREE of charge.

You can order as many as 10 figurals per 100 pieces of puzzle, but due to the fact that planning, cutting and in some cases custom designing the pieces is very time consuming, I charge a fee for any additional pieces beyond the 2:100 ratio. This fee is $10.00 per each additional personalized puzzle piece

In the time it takes me to design, plan and cut 1 personalized piece, I can cut from 10 to 15 regular puzzle pieces. This is a pretty significant observation which makes these special pieces even more precious.

Names and dates which involve letters and numbers are calculated as...
4 letters or numbers = 1 Figural piece.

Sue = 1 figural piece
Mark = 1 figural pieces
Kelly = 2 figural pieces
July 4th = 2 figural pieces
Nicholas = 2 figural pieces
Christopher = 3 figural pieces
December 25th = 3 figural pieces
October 17 2019 = 4 figural pieces
Happy Birthday Emily = 6 figurals
and so on....

With Objects, here is how they work

A Cat = 1 Firgural piece
A Dog = 1 Figural Piece
A boy flying a kite = 2 figural pieces (Boy is 1 piece, Kite is another peice, and they are connected by an extended cut line in the puzzle)
a Boy pulling a wagon with his pet dog sitting in it = 3 Figural Pieces.
and so on...

heart and key

Hockey puzzles

Signature puzzle piece

To see the above image in more detail, click on it.

What are the drawbacks to Figurals?

Figure pieces do have drawbacks, which vary for each person and for each puzzle.

1) Figure pieces with intricate cuttings often make it very easy to find the puzzle pieces that surround them, for example, the image to the left is a photocopy of the back of one of my puzzles showing my signature piece (A child wearing a baseball cap). If you notice the hair, face areas have quick little jagged wiggles to accentuate the eyes, nose and mouth, as well as hair.

These quick cut lines stand out in comparison to the rest of the cutting style of the puzzle. In the case of my signature piece, I always match the face with just one opposing piece. Yes, they are both easy to identify and match up, but after they are matched up, the rest of the pieces no longer are as obvious to find, as you can see for yourself.

As you can see. puzzles with many Figurals in them are generally found to be easier to to solve, than if the same puzzle had fewer Figurals in it. I find that 2 Figurals per 100 pieces of puzzle is a very comfortable ratio.

2) Figure pieces that have a very detailed outline can become fragile, such as the hockey player above (hockey stick and skate blades), or the Blue Crab to the left (the legs), can sustain damage easier than a normal puzzle piece. In avoiding Figurals that require sharp points, or areas where the cut becomes narrow and long, the factor of possible breakage, chipping and pealing of the piece will be reduced.

If you decide to use detailed figure pieces in your puzzle, just remember to take a little extra care when handling them, as well as the pieces around them, and use added caution when you disassemble the puzzle after completion.

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