Pool of Mystery Ideas

Good morning, noon, or night wherever you might be.

My name is Marty and I am struggling with some graphic design quandaries. I am trying to build my own mystery game company, and I am in the beginning phases and I keep running into the same problem – I need the help of a graphic artist!

With that being said, it is true, I am not one. But I was hoping that I might be able to join this forum and find some help, ideas, and inspiration along the way. Also, I am not sure if I am in violation of the rules because I am not a Graphic Artist, but I would gladly contribute to the community in any possible way I can.

Thank you!

Some questions I need help with:

How might a person hide a message within a painting?

Is it possible to create two images alike, say a sketch of a room, and when you pass something over the room, like film or something, the sketch of the room changes giving new details or different objects?

Thank you very much for your time.

It is against the rules to ask for free work.

On the hidden messages though, if this is in the physical world, look up UV invisible paint. You need a black light to see it, but in normal light it is clear.

On the other thing, if it is like a map, there used to be some kind of film that would show hidden details. For some reason my brain remembers it as red that cancelled out all the red in the image, but it’s been sooooooo long, I don’t remember. Someone as old as me might pipe up.

Yeah, I feel like I remember some sort of board game from my childhood that came with a red piece of cellophane — kind of like rubylith, in hindsight — that you would place over an image to reveal a hidden image. Maybe it was like a colorblind test sort of thing. What it was called or how to find it … yikes, not sure I’d be any help past remembering that it was out there.

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Thank you PrintDriver!

I had no intention to ask for free work. I enjoy trying to learn new skills, and if it is allowed to commission work, I would be happy to do so as I am trying to put some of these ideas together.

However, to make my answer shorter, I’m wondering about methodology and if possible.

I learned years ago – probably in the last ice age – that if you wear red tinted glasses and the message is written in any color other than red, it would appear, while otherwise hidden. But is there a way to change an image with a film or lens or something?

Thank you again.

What type of game? Real world escape room, board game, video game?

It could be a matter of perspective as well. Similar to this nearly 500 year old painting.

or the old Mad magazine fold-ins

Hidden symbolism, possible transparent layering (multiple prints on a transparent sheet that need to be overlaid in the correct way.) Maybe thermochromic ink?

Optical illusions, “magic eye” images.


There are stereograms with hidden phrases, such as this one.

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Something like this
Screen Shot 2023-02-07 at 7.03.48 PM


or maybe do some research on Anaglyphs. I just found that word associated with these things. There are some software programs that break imagery down into pixels so they are even more secret than what I posted above. I can’t recommend any of them as I’m not doing the research. Vetting is up to you.

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Real world escape room type game. Actual physical objects, though I think I can bring some digital elements into it, but I need to do more research first.

I like the idea of the stereograms – I was thinking it might be fun to do a message in lights: long exposure light photography… but not sure how to create that.

I think the long-exposure idea might be more difficult than you think. The entire scene would be exposed for the same amount of time, not just the lights you want to see. Thus the lights you’re trying to make ‘secret’ would need to be already visible to the naked eye, or the entire scene too dark to see much of anything.

Here’s a similar idea that takes some of the previously mentioned light-filtering ideas and combines them with your camera idea:

perhaps sourcing a cheap, older DSLR camera and having the IR filter removed?

You could then illuminate a scene with IR lights that would more or less be invisible to the naked eye, but would show up on images taken with the camera.

An alternative to the DSLR w/o IR cut filter might be to use a screw-on lens filter for similar effect:

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That seems like a great idea to try. I will take a look at it.

Lenticular images. You can get these in larger sizes. I worked on an exhibit once where viewers would walk through a corridor that was lined with 3’x5’ lenticular images of old buildings. At the start, viewers would look down the hallway and only see the historic photos from the olden days, then as they passed by each one it would change to an artist rendering of the forthcoming improvements that were to made. At the end of the corridor viewers could look back and only see the renderings.

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To me Lenticular images always seemed like the lamest Cracker Jack toy (I hated getting those flip cards as a kid, I wanted a snap together plastic toy!) The printer that makes them has to have skillz too, especially when large. I’ve seen some really bad attempts. :slight_smile:

Ahh ha! This could be the solution! Well unless anyone knows how to make black magic happen.

The printer as in the machine or the person?

You can have more than 2 images with lenticular. So you could have a framed image on a wall, say, a portrait. And it consists of 3 identical images, but the center image has a message scrawled in blood on top of the portrait. People could be walking around the room and not see the message if they are standing to the left or right of the portrait. They only see it when they are standing directly in front. Or, all 3 are identical portraits, but in the center image the person’s hand is pointing somewhere in the room. Again, they only see it if they’re standing in front of it.

Another technique you might consider is “pepper’s ghost”, which is a theatrical effect. Projections on to mirrors and glass to create the illusion of ghosts. Disney uses it on some of their theme park rides, especially Haunted Mansion. Come to think of it, there are some interesting effects in that attraction. This guy tells you how he created his own version of the changing portraits:


I thought of another application on the lenticular image idea that might be fun. You could set it up so the message image would only be visible to someone sitting in a chair in a particular location, or on their hands and knees on the floor.

Vertical slats means the image would change as the viewer moved left to right or right to left. Do horizontal slats instead. You could do 3 images, the first 2 are identical, horizontal slats, and put the message in the 3rd (bottom) image, then hang the image on the wall at eye level. Then they’ll only see the message if they lower their view… such as sitting in a chair and crawling on the floor.

I used to them for clear plastic rulers - the company name and rotate it and it showed the phone number. That was over 20 years ago now. Haven’t done anything remotely like that in close to a quarter of a century (jeez!)

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