Geeking Out on Nonograms – We Give You the Scoop

John Perkins

Nonogram is a popular Japanese logic puzzle game, also known as Hanjie, Pic Cross, or Griddler. Each cell on the nonogram grid is to be painted or left blank according to the numerical clues provided at the top and left side of the grid. It may seem complicated, but when you start playing the puzzle using basic elimination and logical techniques, you’ll have a hang of it. The solution results in a beautiful pixel image, which is the objective of this game.

Nonogram Rules

#1 Fill the grid using clues on the outside

#2 Groups of numbers must be in order

#3 Gap between groups is at least one cell

Now let’s get started with the details.

No matter what, you first look for larger numbers to begin the game. Find the single biggest digit on the grid, and if that possibility doesn’t work, look out for multiple clues (direct inputs) for a single row or column to mark those off. This technique is also called Simple boxes.

We can also translate the pattern of the boxes in the given clue from one extremum of the line to the other. Cells on the grid that are filled in the union of combinations are sure to be filled boxes. Based on this technique, you can work your way forward with the second or third biggest digits in both rows and columns.

You must also be mindful of the single short digits as they offer easy eliminations. And, with multiple clues, you can complete any row or column if the clues plus one cell space between each of these equals to the length of the line.

Next up is Joining, which means that the row or column having a single-digit must all run together. By this point, you’ll eliminate all the potential boxes and start applying the necessary techniques to spaces. So, for instance, in a run of nine boxes that are painted in the column with ten as a clue, you must know that only one more painted box at either end is to be left blank. Therefore, it’s easy to determine that the cells outside this range are sure to be spaces – because important clues are not just the painted cells but also the empty ones. 

When you’ve made the inroads, a little assumption, to be honest, also helps you stay strong in the game. Though guesswork must be avoided entirely, a move here and it is still manageable.

So that’s your scoop of nonograms!

Now that you’re aware of the nonogram solving techniques, try them out yourself. Where? On the best Nonogram mobile app. picture puzzle, a.k.a. Hanjie by Easybrain is the one we suggest. It’s absolutely addicting and one of the most genuine puzzles in the app stores. It rewards you with exciting pixel pictures in the end, but the real reward is in applying your logic to complete each level.


David Rosenberg: A seasoned political journalist, David's blog posts provide insightful commentary on national politics and policy. His extensive knowledge and unbiased reporting make him a valuable contributor to any news outlet.