Artist thinks those aren’t so much decorations as they are disguises.

Originally, taking Japanese sticker pictures, or purikura as they’re called locally, was a pretty simple affair. You and a friend would step into the booth, choose a frame, get your picture taken, and a few moments later the photos would drop out of the machine for you to take home.

These days, though, getting your photo taken is only the beginning of the purikura ritual. Once you step out of the booth, most machines have a touch screen on their exterior where you can add text, stamps, and all sorts of other digital effects before printing your photos. If someone else has stepped into the booth, there’s usually a limited time in which to tinker with your shots, but if you’ve still got the machine entirely to yourself, you can embellish the images to your heart’s content.

This results in a bit of a paradox, in that purikura fans of course want to take pictures of themselves, but sometimes it can be hard to see them under all the computer-generated hearts, sparkles, and other post-production extras. But Twitter user @osamegu121 says that Japanese women don’t just add these touches to make their photos look girlish, but also to cover up parts of their personal appearance that they’re not satisfied with, and has also created a guide to reverse-engineer the process.

For example, one of @osamegu121’s illustrations features a pair of friends, one with a heart covering her right eye and the other with a heart blocking her facial features under her eyes. The effect sort of makes it look like they’re sporting a cute eyepatch and mask, like extra-feminine ninja, but @osamegu121’s deduction, also shown in illustrated form, is that the girl in the hat’s right eye is significantly smaller than her left, while her orange-sweater-wearing companion has an unattractively shaped mouth and protruding teeth.

A heart shows up again in @osamegu121’s second drawing, this time on the cheek of the girl in the pink sweater, a position that lends her a sweetly blushing air. To her left, her purikura partner has what look like motion lines extending from the edge of her peace sign, with the scribbles imparting a sense of playful motion to the static image. But the real reason for the decorations, @osamegu121 says, is that the face of the girl in pink is creased with laugh lines which she’s concealed under the heart, and her friend is hiding a double chin.

After @osamegu121 shared the illustrations, multiple online commenters admitted that they do indeed use digital purikura stamps to obscure parts of their photo that they don’t like. It’s worth pointing out, though, that adding all those stamps is half the fun of taking purikura in the current era, and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll encounter sticker pictures without any digital effects at all, so you might want to be careful about immediately assuming that those decorations are always hiding something unattractive.

Source: Twitter/@osamegu121

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he wishes we could find another Puyo Puyo purikura machine.