You can also ask for help in the kitchen.
Thanks for the background hint! I'd guessed the cipher hours ago, but could neither see a way to break the symbols up, nor figure out the individual mappings -- too many degrees of freedom.
Now, onto step 4.
You should find "CONGRATULATIONS", not "Congratulations", before redeeming.
So what is the trick? It's frustrating...
I also tried Levels, Curves, Thresholds, Image differences.. (whatever I have learned from previous decoding long time ago). Apart from some noises which might simply come from the compression, nothing showed up yet.
Notably, @ReneZ11 mentioned something about the color profile (sGray vs RGB). I asked a friend with Photoshop for remote help and hopefully something would show up.
Also, given that previous steps all have some "hints" related to alchemists, I was wondering if the photo-prossing is also not just processing, but with some connections to the archetype theme?
The thing about color profiles is not part of the solution. If you solve it the intended way, it's not an issue at all. If you solve it the non-intended way, the way I did it, it might become a problem when working with Photoshop. Other programs, like G.I.M.P, don't have that issue.
It is mind bogglingly frustrating to get this far into a challenge only to find out it requires some crazy image manipulation tool that requires proprietary software and/or a super obscure online tool ... and the only clue is “delve deeper”
This is pure evil
Thanks for clarification!
I just validated this statement by NineBerry. I just discovered what I've been trying to use at tiny.cc was slightly askew. If you've got the result already, the last character is as displayed from the decoder, the second-to-last character is of the same "data type". If you omit the last two characters, you hit another troll link that sends you to Step 2. The answer is, again, in keeping with the archetype's namesake.
Now I need to "delve deeper"...
Any hints to give those of us stuck a little prod in the right direction?
Omg!!! I found the online tool ... I love ugly robots
delve deeper wasn't really a clue for me. I played around with G.I.M.P, and besides the obvious stuff (copy/paste, move one layer a bit for lining up images 1 and 4) I used 2 features/functions: One is needed when 2 images are mostly similar/identical and you want to spot the difference. The other is to make very dark gray look different from black (or very light gray different from white). However it was more than just two steps in total.
Yes, the passcode is written in there (not really black on white as there is a lot of gray involved). And with a font size larger than any other text on the images.
The way I used is the obvious one, comparing the two images. But that's not the intended way, and it can be difficult to extract the information you need. That's where you need G.I.M.P/Photoshop.
The intended way is much easier. However, there's really not much one can say without giving the solution away. It's a way to hide information in an image. You need a specialized tool here, but it's also available online if you know what you're looking for.
Just got it by comparison, man that sucked. No idea what the correct way should have been. Media acquired!
The intended method can be used in Photoshop and other sufficiently advanced image manipulation tools, too, though you need to know what to look for. To know what to look for, perhaps one way would be to try to imagine you're a puzzle author making your first puzzle and to search for tutorials to do what's been done here (in general terms). There are not so many different methods to do that, and you can find hundreds of tutorials outlining this particular method here.
You guys are so generous with hints when you get past something. Thank you so much!
Not a fan of step 4 here but can confirm when you find the right online tool the passcode is completely clear. I don't know how I would have found the tool without the forum though.
OMG I totally forgot sleep...It 7 am now...
also stuck on 4.
I did a comparison (2 layers in g.i.m.p. over wach other, mode: difference) but there was none. besides the different text in the first and the 4th pic. after correcting a few pixels of offset, those two were the same. tried other methods like fiddling with the curves to boost contrast in certain areas -> nothing.
after decoding this for 9 hours straight now, exhaustion kicks in.
...and I love you, Dr! Thanks for the hint and putting me out of my misery!
Not ugly robots but "extremely" ugly robots : )
you mean in the 4th image? wich is the first one without the hexagons and different text?
I made a zig-zag out of the tone curve the image is littered with compression artifacts but no code.
oh, and if you tune that just right, then male genitalia are visible in the image. but I guess that is purely accidental?
Phew, finished before bedtime.
I extracted the text for step 4 using command-line tools (Imagemagick and sed), but I only spotted what I needed to do after dragging sliders around aimlessly in G.I.M.P.. So I still don't know the name for the technique in order to search for/hint at a suitable online tool.
[Edited to unfilter software title]
so., the final passcode is in the pixels of the 4_...png image that shows drawing a person with a wand and a bowl?
Thanks, that helped! Found online tool after picking something obvious from "how to hide stuff in the image" tutorials. Now, the real challenge is how to do it without online tool or coding, like just usung paint or krita.
Also after seeing encoding method used in the previous step, was not surprised that the steganography method does not follow the "alchemist" theme anymore.
Fun at the beginning, but very difficult at the end ... 😁✌️
This is the second challenge after the humanist where we do not need to search for letters / numbers to get a passcode, because it was resolved with the right online tools
the final step is like going back to the beginning 😅
Thanks for all the hints
How do you know what number to assign to each metal in part 3?
background image tells him
Based on the order of one of their characteristics.
I thought I had the right splits for step three, but I’m only getting 12 segments so I’m off somewhere. Does the code start with cdhc? And how many of them are numbers? Someone said we’re looking for a word...