How To Make A DIY Photo Puzzle with Free Templates

How to make a puzzle from a picture? It’s easy, this is a tutorial for a DIY puzzle that you can cut with either a cutting machine or by hand.

My daughter was really into puzzles for a while and I’d have to buy her a new one every week because she would get tired of putting together the same thing within a few days.

I then discovered I could just make my own. The best part is the materials can be free like this Frozen cereal box I used for this project. (yes, I let my kids eat this stuff once in a while…don’t judge 🙂

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Materials for DIY Photo Puzzle

Image – A photo, print out, magazine page, cereal box, basically anything works

Chipboard or thicker cardstock – The cereal box is really the perfect thickness for this project. You could use basically any consumer product paper box. Alternatively, you can buy dedicated chipboard.

Glue – If you are cutting this by hand, I would recommend Mod Podge Gloss. For the cutting machine method, I like to use any glue that works well for cardmaking mostly because it doesn’t warp the image. Here are a few of my favorites:

Cutting Machine – I use a Cricut. Check out my recommendations for Cricut machines and accessories for beginners for more info.

Templates – I have a set of different shaped puzzle templates available in SVG and printable formats for free in my resource library.

How to make a puzzle out of a picture

First, print your photo. Online printing is so pervasive these days, I would highly recommend just sending it to a walgreens instead of printing it at home. The at home printers are not as vibrant and it wastes a lot of ink.

If you are making this using a cutting machine, I recommend cutting the base and the photo separately and then gluing it together.

For both the cereal box chipboard base and the photograph, I would recommend a standard grip mat. These are both materials that have a cutting pressure predefined by Cricut which makes it super convenient.

If you want to make a thicker puzzle, you can double the cereal box layer.

Try to keep the pieces in the right place after cutting. You don’t want to mix up or accidentally flip one of the piece that look symmetrical and then glue it the wrong way.

After the pieces have been cut, apply a dab of glue to each layer and spread it around with either a q-tip or brush. Align the layers together and wipe off any excess glue seeping out from the sides.

If you really want to secure everything in place, apply a layer of Mod Podge on the top layer.

How to make a puzzle by hand

The only difference in cutting the puzzle by hand is you will have to glue the layers together first and then do the cutting after everything has dried which can take over night.

I would recommend a makeup sponge or a sponge brush to layer the Mod Podge to get a thick but even layer between the chipboard and the image.

After gluing the layers together, print and cut out the individual puzzle pieces and trace them on the layered assembly.

Then just cut with scissors or an Xacto knife.

Store Your DIY Photo Puzzle

Once you you’ve created your DIY photo puzzle from scratch or with your Cricut, you can store it. If I’m making mine for the kids to use at home, I usually use a Ziploc bag for safe storage. If you’re giving your puzzle as a gift, you can recycle a cardboard box and decorate it. You can also use this tutorial on how to make envelopes to make a colorful puzzle holder out of cardstock.

Of course, you can also cut your custom photo puzzle pieces bigger or smaller, depending on the age of the person you’re making it for. For toddlers, you can make puzzles that are only 4-10 pieces. This way, it’s easier for them to put together. To get started, you just need to enlarge the DIY photo puzzle template.

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