RubikCubism - Rubik's Cube Art
Unique Art and DIY Instructions
Rubikcubism, or Rubikubism, is art made from Rubik's cubes. More specifically, it refers to a mosaic style where each small colored square on the face of a Rubik's cube represents one pixel. This style is generally believed to be originated by a French artist known only as Invader. That's a photo of one of his pieces from his LA exhibition in 2005.
This lens will show you how you can make your own Rubik's cube mosaic (assuming you can understand the easiest way to start solving a cube) and also contains links and images of the best mosaics out there.
Can't solve the Rubik's cube? Don't worry, you don't need to!
The good old classic cube. One is never enough. Most RubikCubists use 3x3 cubes.
New World Record! 12,090 Cubes! - Check this Rubik's Cube mosaic out!
Work in progress by Invader
Rubik's Cube Wholesalers
Where can I buy hundreds of cubes?
The biggest obstacle to doing Rubikcubism is getting the Rubik's Cube. Unless you're super rich, there is no way you'll be able to afford hundreds or thousands of Rubik's cubes at full retail price.
The cheapest way is to look abroad. This is the age of the internet so it's very easy to find manufacturers in China, for example. While the quality may not be the best, keep in mind that you do not need high quality cubes.
To buy from China or Taiwan, you need to know that in Chinese, the Rubik's cube is called a "Magic Square" or "Magic Cube." Alibaba is a B2B marketplace and is the best place to start. Contact individual manufacturers and be specific about the size and design of the cubes you want. Note that there may be minimum order requirements and the quote is not likely to include shipping.
For reference, I was connected to a manufacturer in Taiwan through a family friend. Here is what I paid for my cubes in 2006:
- $0.50 per cube
- $1.00 shipping per cube, cases shipped by boat
- 1024 cubes total (16 cases of 64)
- 1 case lost in shipping and was not received
CIX (see his artwork below) gets his cubes from a UK supplier on eBay who charges about Â£220 ($400) for 500 (4.5cm cubes). Commission your own custom RubikCubism!
Elvis and Amy Winehouse in Rubik's Cubes
Space Invader Video - He talks about his mosaics
The above mosaics were made by ASH and me. Although we can both solve the Rubik's cube, we are not speedcubers. In fact, you don't need to be able to solve the cube in order to get the colors you want on only one side. This beginner's Rubik's cube guide shows you everything you need to know, and there's no need to memorize the whole thing. 8-bit video game characters are popular Rubikcubism subjects because of their limited color palette, but you can use photographs if you'd like. See the next section.
RubikCubism Photoshop Tutorial
Now that you've seen 'em, here's how to make 'em!
You'll need at least 30 Rubik's cubes and have some idea on how to rotate the faces to get what the color "pixels" you want on one side. Preparation is easier with Photoshop or some other comparable program.
I use Photoshop 7.0 and my example picture is by AndrÃ© Karwath and can be found here. The photo is used under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license. This example is 42x42 pixels, requiring 196 3x3x3 cubes.
- Using the number of cubes you have available, figure out the pixel dimensions you want to have.
- Find a picture that excites you! Crop or shrink the picture to the correct number of pixels. [I shrank the daisy picture to 42x42.]
- Zoom in on the image so you can see individual pixels. Then go to Image -> Mode -> Indexed Color.
- Set Palette to "Local(Selective)" and Forced to "Black and White" if needed. Uncheck Transparency. Now, change the number of colors to 6.
- Change Palette to "Custom" in order to bring up the Color Table.
- Starting in the upper left, click each box and match the color to the colors on your cubes. You may save this palette for later, too, if you'd like. [I chose #FFFFFF, #000E98, #FF0000, #25C200, #F6FF00, and #FF9C00.]
- Be sure the preview button is checked. Under options, leave Matte set at "None." You can change the type of dither and the percentage until you like the picture. [I left the percentage at 75%.]
- Hit Okay!
- You probably want to print it out so you can look at the pattern when you build your mosaic. Go to Image -> Image Size, uncheck the Resample Image box at the bottom and set your document size to the size of your desired printout.
Alright! You're all set. It's time to start turning those cubes! Be sure to come back and submit your link to this lens.
A: No dither. B: Diffusion dither. C: Pattern dither. D: Noise dither.
Get More Pixels!
Take Rubikcubism to the next level! To my knowledge, no major RubikCubists use the 4x4. You can be the first, and have your art featured here!
The ultimate Rubik's cube. For the same number of pixels, you'll need a lot fewer cubes. Plus, each pixel is smaller so if you take a step back and squint, whoa! It looks like a photo!
Advanced Rubikcubism Notes
A couple of details you should keep in mind
It's easy to get just the front face of the cube organized for the mosaic, but what if you want the make the edges a single color?
- The side edges and the top/bottom edges cannot be the same color because your corner cubes are part of two edges.
- Pick an edge color that doesn't show up on the front face of the mosaic for any of the cubes on that edge.
- Make sure the color you choose is adjacent to all the centers of the front face of the edge cubes.
- Using the beginner's algorithm, do the front face, then the second layer on the side face, and finally the third layer. For the third layer, orient the edge piece and then the corner pieces, then move the edge piece between the corner pieces.
If you buy high-quality cubes from a manufacturer dedicated to ensuring every cube is the same (ie, the Official Rubik's Cube), you will not be able to find a pair of cubes like this. Strangely enough, this is one situation where six-sigma will not be to your advantage.