For those who didn’t get the chance to solve “The Haunted House” from this past Halloween, here’s a final reminder to download the PDF or solve it electronically on The Post’s website. It will disappear from the page next Sunday, so hop to!

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but each of the pictures in this crossword yields two words. The starting instructions say, “Each picture in this puzzle has one wrong letter in its answer. The wrong letters spell out someone who needs to fix the pictures. When you change them to the right letters, they spell out that person’s task.” The puzzle is a little smaller than normal (19x19 squares) since that gave me what I felt was the best chance to fit all the pictures and clues (and the instructions) on one page in The Magazine’s print edition.

Here are the 15 pictures:

The name of the game here is basically naming what you see in the images, but taking care to check your crossings since one of the letters for each picture will be wrong. It should also be apparent that each picture is shaded in a strange color that doesn’t exactly match what you’d usually expect.

  • The picture at 1A shows CRABS, but 1D: [“The Haunting Dancer” painter Severini] is GINO, so that makes the answer at 1A GRABS. Crabs are normally depicted as red, but these are light green and light blue.
  • 6A picture shows multicolored TOES, but 7D: [Scrunch up] is RUMPLE, making the 6A answer TRES.
  • 10A picture shows a first-place GOLD medal, but 12D: [Adjective meaning “solo,” found after the first letter of 25 Across] is ALONE, making the 6A answer GOAD. The gold medal in this picture has been rendered as green.
  • 23A picture shows a blue LEOPARD, but 6D: [___ door (place to fall through the floor)] is TRAP, making the 23A answer LEPPARD (as in half of the band name Def Leppard).
  • 31A picture shows a RAVEN, shaded as red instead of its normal black. 31D: [Popular songs] is HITS, making the 31A answer HAVEN.
  • 36A picture shows a pink crocodile, or CROC for short. 29D: [Like the puzzles at a crossword tournament] is TIMED, making the 36A answer IROC.
  • 54A picture shows an orange OLIVE. 54D: [Performer’s prompt] is CUE, making the 54A answer CLIVE.
  • 56A picture shows a pink RIVER, illustrated with some normally shaded grass and trees to help clarify what it is you’re looking at. 56D: [“Go on, I ___ you!"] is DARE, making the 56A answer DIVER.
  • 58A picture shows a green-shaded ERNIE from “Sesame Street” instead of in his normal orange color. 59D: [Word after Christmas or New Year’s] is EVE, making the 58A answer EENIE.
  • 73A picture shows a cartoon picture of a blue-skinned POPE with a green miter. 60D: [“Midnight Cowboy” character with a rodentlike name] is RATSO, making the 73A answer POPS.
  • 76A picture shows a multicolored CRATE, with an apple and a carrot shaded normally to help steer you clear of taking those into account. 71D: [Safety ___ (fastener)] is PIN, making the 76A answer IRATE.
  • 87A picture shows purple ANTLERS. 74D: [“The Return of the Vampire” actor Bela] is LUGOSI, making the 87A answer ANGLERS.
  • 100A picture shows Princess LEIA with red hair instead of her normal brown. 79D: [___ Wrap (food spoilage preventer)] is SARAN, making the 100A answer LENA.
  • 101A picture shows a green LION. 75D: [Comment from one who’s running behind] is I’M LATE, making the 101A answer LIEN.
  • 102A picture shows a multicolored SPINE rather than a white one. 90D: [Trash pickup?] is ODOR, making the 102A answer SPIRE.

If you take the wrong letters from the pictures in order, they spell out GRAPHIC DESIGNER. That’s a person who you might expect would fix these images — or maybe mess them up to begin with. I’d never describe myself as a graphic designer, though. I’m just a guy who likes photoshopping pictures every now and then.

Now, take those same wrong letters for the pictures and change them back to the right ones:


Those corrected letters spell out COLOR CORRECTION, which is what the graphic designer would have to do to fix the pictures.

This puzzle exists because this weekend’s Washington Post Magazine is a photo issue, featuring stories told primarily in pictures. It gave me the rare opportunity to combine my job as a crossword constructor with my Photoshop hobby. Thankfully, most of the “work” in manipulating the pictures was just taking what had been black-and-white stock icons and changing them to an unexpected color. There wasn’t any special significance to the colors that I picked except that I wanted you to be able to recognize fairly quickly that they were the wrong ones.

Some of the pictures needed some additional work. We needed to pull the pictures of Ernie and Leia from The Washington Post’s photo archive, and I had to shade in specific parts of their faces in different colors. The Leia photo was especially tough to work with because it had originally been a black-and-white photo, so I needed to colorize it as best I could and then make her hair bright red so you’d understand that it wasn’t her normal hair color. The picture of the river had originally just been a curving black stream with no other illustration, and that would be too vague of an image by itself, so I added the grass and trees in Photoshop to help you better visualize it. I also drew the olive by hand using a separate stock picture of an olive as a reference. That blue pope’s face was my doing as well, since the original icon was just the miter. I didn’t think that was enough for you to definitively identify the image as a pope, but then again, hopefully my cartoon Pope Smurf didn’t confuse you into thinking it was someone or something else.

The pictures were a handy way for me to cut down on the number of clues that I had to write, too; sometimes a single clue can take me a very, very long time to lock down, so having 15 fewer clues to write (and a smaller grid to begin with) was a real relief. It may be a little while before I get to work with pictures in a puzzle again, though, so I hope you enjoyed the variety. What did you think?