# What it looks like

The answer consists of three words.

Hint 1

Hint 2 (related to hint 1)

Erase black squares in correct order (see hint 1)

Hint 3 (more decisive)

a)

b) (related to hint 1) 1x1, 2x2, 3x3,...

• An observation that may help somebody to break in: rot13(Gur guveq naq svsgu vzntrf va gur frdhrapr/frg ner vqragvpny, naq nyy bs gur oynpx fdhnerf zvffvat va gur frpbaq ner nyfb zvffvat sebz gur fvkgu, nf n fhofrg.) Still unsure what to make of it myself at this stage...
– Stiv
Mar 27, 2022 at 22:07
• @Stiv There's a reason as to why that is. Maybe this third hint will help. Mar 28, 2022 at 10:26

The answer to this puzzle (very appropriately) is that this looks like:

A PROGRESSIVE MATRIX

@Rand'alThor has previously managed to spot how to generate the sequence of images below the main grid. To summarise (and borrow/cannibalise his images...):

we draw progressively larger and larger 'corner boxes', deleting any vowels that fall on the cells that these occupy:

This means that our missing seventh image comprises a picture of the matrix with all black vowel spaces in its edge rows and columns deleted:

Next, take a closer look at the numbers on the vowels that remain in this image. Most notably:

We have one instance of each number from 1 to 7!

And since what looks to be our answer key comprises seven white-black-white trios of squares, this looks like it will be relevant...

In fact, to extract the final answer what we need to do is:

Look at each of the black vowels remaining in image 7 in turn (in order of their numbers, 1 to 7), and the two consonants that appear either side when the consonant matrix is overlaid. We get seven consonant-vowel-consonant trios as follows:

k A1 P
R O2 G
R E3 S
S I4 V
g E5 M
l A6 T
R I7 X

Ignoring any consonants which are unnumbered in the answer key (shown here in lower case italics), and taking the remaining 11 numbered consonants along with the vowels in sequence, we read off the answer A PROGRESSIVE MATRIX - i.e. a type of puzzle where you are provided with several images in a sequence and must provide the next one... which is exactly what we've had to do here!

• I was almost certain that this needed another hint, guess not :D Well done! 👍 Apr 30, 2022 at 8:46

From the top square (some vowels in a box), do the following:

draw corner-boxes around all four corners, of increasing widths from 1 to 7:

The black vowel squares remaining each time, after removing the ones crossed out in red, are exactly those indicated in the small squares below the top one given in the question.

Now if we try to

do the same thing with the given box of consonants, at the first step we get the letters M,R,N,S from the four corners, which together with the two corner vowels (A and O) could give the word ROMANS.

But continuing to do this would rapidly give very large sets of consonants, so it doesn't feel right unless "Romans" is a hint for something like the Caesar cipher.

We also have numbers on the vowel letters in the top box:

$$1$$ on an A and U, $$2$$ on an O and U, $$3$$ on an A and E, $$4$$ on an I and O, $$5$$ on an E and I, $$6$$ on an A and I, $$7$$ on an I and O.

Compare with the letters removed by the above boxing operations: A, O at step $$1$$; an A, I, U at step $$2$$; A, E, I, I, O at step $$3$$; E, I, O, U at step $$4$$; A, E, I, I, O at step $$5$$; A, A, E, I, I, O, U at step $$6$$; A, I, I, O, O, U, U at step $$7$$.

From the numbered things next to the consonant box, it seems that

our answer may be 11 letters, as we have gap, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, gap, 8, gap, 9, 10, 11. It's also noticeable that there are seven rows of those numbered things, so perhaps each one corresponds to one of the seven boxing operations described above.

Also, the black squares in the middle might indicate vowels taken from the top box, since that's where black squares have been used in this puzzle, while the white (numbered or unnumbered) squares might indicate consonants? But if I'm right that the solution is 11 letters, then this probably isn't right, because some of those letters would be vowels and some would be consonants.

Going further with my second guess here:

let's consider what vowels and consonants are important in each boxing operation.

1. The first boxing removes A ($$3$$) and O ($$4$$), corresponding to R and S respectively among the consonants.
2. The second boxing removes A ($$6$$) and I ($$6$$) and U ($$1$$), corresponding to R and T and P respectively among the consonants.
3. The third boxing removes I ($$7$$) and O ($$2$$) and E ($$5$$) and A ($$1$$) and I ($$4$$), corresponding to K and T and N and D and J respectively among the consonants.
4. The fourth boxing removes I ($$5$$) and E ($$3$$) and U ($$2$$) and O ($$7$$), corresponding to H and H and H and Z respectively among the consonants.
5. The fifth boxing removes I ($$7$$) and O ($$2$$) and E ($$5$$) and A ($$1$$) and I ($$4$$), corresponding to K and T and N and D and J respectively among the consonants.
6. The sixth boxing removes I ($$6$$) and A ($$6$$) and I ($$7$$) and A ($$1$$) and U ($$1$$) and O ($$2$$) and E ($$5$$), corresponding to T and R and K and D and P and T and N respectively among the consonants.
7. The seventh boxing removes O ($$7$$) and O ($$4$$) and U ($$1$$) and U ($$2$$) and A ($$3$$) and I ($$5$$) and I ($$6$$), corresponding to Z and S and P and H and R and H and T respectively among the consonants.

To summarise:

• The relation between the vowel box and the small boxes is solved (thanks to Hints 1 and 2, I didn't need Hint 3).
• The meaning of the numbers on the vowels is not solved.
• How to use the consonant box is not solved, although some guesses are made.
• The meaning of the numbers to the left is not solved, although some guesses are made.
• Good job on solving the first part! For the second part, rot13(fbzr bs lbhe thrffrf ner pybfre, fcrpvsvpnyyl guvf bar: "Nyfb, gur oynpx fdhnerf va gur zvqqyr zvtug vaqvpngr ibjryf gnxra sebz gur gbc obk, fvapr gung'f jurer oynpx fdhnerf unir orra hfrq va guvf chmmyr, juvyr gur juvgr (ahzorerq be haahzorerq) fdhnerf zvtug vaqvpngr pbafbanagf?." Gel gb fbzrubj znxr frafr bs guvf.) Mar 28, 2022 at 11:49