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RubikCubism - Rubik's Cube Art

Updated on January 16, 2011

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!

Rubik's Cubes on Amazon

Speedsolving the Cube: Easy-to-Follow, Step-by-Step Instructions for Many Popular 3-D Puzzles
Speedsolving the Cube: Easy-to-Follow, Step-by-Step Instructions for Many Popular 3-D Puzzles

Alright, so just being to solve the cube is not enough for you? You want to speed-cube, eh? This is the book for you!

 
Rubik's Cube
Rubik's Cube

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!

Largest Rubik's Cube mosaic
Largest Rubik's Cube mosaic


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
Still it was much, much cheaper than anything I could get in the US.

CIX (see his artwork below) gets his cubes from a UK supplier on eBay who charges about £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 André 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.

  1. Using the number of cubes you have available, figure out the pixel dimensions you want to have.
  2. Find a picture that excites you! Crop or shrink the picture to the correct number of pixels. [I shrank the daisy picture to 42x42.]
  3. Zoom in on the image so you can see individual pixels. Then go to Image -> Mode -> Indexed Color.
  4. Set Palette to "Local(Selective)" and Forced to "Black and White" if needed. Uncheck Transparency. Now, change the number of colors to 6.
  5. Change Palette to "Custom" in order to bring up the Color Table.
  6. 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.]
  7. 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%.]
  8. Hit Okay!
  9. 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.

A:

B:


C:

D:


A: No dither. B: Diffusion dither. C: Pattern dither. D: Noise dither.

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.

Get More Pixels!

Rubik's Revenge Cube 4 X 4
Rubik's Revenge Cube 4 X 4

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!

 
Rubik's 5X5 Cube
Rubik's 5X5 Cube

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.

Are these cubes different? Yes. They are mirror images of each other, so it is impossible to rotate one cube to have the exact orientation as the other cube. In other words, there is a chirality to the color orientation on the cubes. This is especially important if you design you mosaic so the two side edges are a single solid color. You must find a "right-hand" cube and a "left-hand" cube for your two corner cubes!

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.

The results of enthusiastic turning of low quality cubes. It happens. Always get extra cubes.

The results of enthusiastic turning of low quality cubes. It happens. Always get extra cubes.
The results of enthusiastic turning of low quality cubes. It happens. Always get extra cubes.

Are you inspired? Fingers twitching and ready to cube? Leave me a message, and let me know if you've spotted any RubikCubists lately. Also, you can rate this lens at The Isle of Squid or even submit your own lens there.

Are you ready to start RubikCubin'?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This page helped me get started a couple of years ago and now we have made nearly 70 mosaics. Check some of them out on youtube by searching for "Cubecreators"

      If you like Rubik's Cube Mosaics, you won't be disappointed!

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image

      TedWritesStuff 4 years ago

      Very clever. Had never considered doing this with cubes!

    • profile image

      wordpress-guru 4 years ago

      nice lens !

    • harubel profile image

      harubel 4 years ago

      good one, informative.

    • profile image

      countsquid 4 years ago

      ill make one

    • profile image

      extmper 5 years ago

      @julieannbrady: good luck

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Ah, I have always been a fan of Rubik's Cube and so happy to embrace the colorful art.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 5 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      Never thought about Rubik Cube as art piece... It looks great!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Ordering the cubes ... check

      Converting a picture in photoshop ... check

      Turning the cubes ... check

      But now putting them on a plate (without a frame) ??? Any ideas who can help me ?

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      Luv The Amy Cube! ... Nifty Lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Rubik's cube solution len

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      nice lens!

      Visit my Rubik's cube solution len:

      http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-solve-a-rubiks-cube-...

    • JeanJohnson LM profile image

      JeanJohnson LM 5 years ago

      I think if I show this page to my husband that he will start a new hobby, he loves the rubiks cube, he owns 3 or 4 of them. Awesome lens

    • profile image

      J_Billo 6 years ago

      Great stuff, I really want to buy 30 cubes and do some mario pictures, they look ace.

    • MoonandMagic profile image

      MoonandMagic 6 years ago

      Brilliant! I have a few old ones lying around, (upgraded to speed cubes) now I know what I can do with them. Thanks a lot. :)

    • cbjones profile image

      cbjones 6 years ago

      After I've dominated the accursed Cube of Rubix, I look forward to creating some sonic the hedgehog inspired sculptures with them.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      Now I've seen everything! :)

    • profile image

      AnnaleeBlysse 6 years ago

      Fun! Another form of artistic expression I'd never really considered.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      I was very impressed when an artist used candy balls to create a piece. Now, this is something else. This is very very incredible. Never really thought that the rubiks cube can turn out into a wonderful work of art.

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      looks like fun

    • Surfie LM profile image

      Surfie LM 7 years ago

      Excellent lens! I never could get the hang of these things. I was more likely to give up and peel the stickers off and fake it. :) I can't imagine being able to line the colored squares up just right to make a mosaic!

    • profile image

      How-To-Solve-A-Rubix-Cube 7 years ago

      @newbizmau: The rubix cube is very hard puzzle to solve. The first time a manage to solve it currectly was only after two weeks.

    • newbizmau profile image

      Guided Abundance 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

      Who has that many rubiks cubes? Wow! Great lens.

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      That is really cool. You learn something new every day on Squidoo. Congratulations on your purple star.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      Very clever! I'm one of those who never really mastered the rubiks cube - at any speed.

    • Kate Phizackerl1 profile image

      Kate Phizackerl1 7 years ago

      Who'd have thought ... Fabulous. Blessed of course.

    • profile image

      Game-Maiden 8 years ago

      I like your page here. Thanks for pointing out the typo on my Big Fish Game Club page. That's what I get for copy-pasting too much and too fast.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      cool!!!! you rock .... i love your creativity in doing that ...... good job... keep on doing an artistic work....

    • profile image

      cheaptoys 8 years ago

      cool lens! you should visit my [url=http://www.squidoo.com/Rubix-360]Rubix 360[/url] lens too! btw gave you 5 stars for this lens!

    • afuu lm profile image

      afuu lm 8 years ago

      Whoaaaa, cool stuff.. I like the stuff at invader's link. Beautiful.. especially the portraits and scenes. Great lens. cheers.

    • Lizblueberry profile image

      Lizblueberry 8 years ago

      That is so cool. I think this will make great Christmas gifts. It is nice to see such a creative idea on Squidoo!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 8 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      This is amazing. I have never heard of this artform before. I intend to try the digital version shortly.

    • profile image

      CleanerLife 8 years ago

      Pretty incredible! I never would have guessed you could do that with Rubik's Cubes!

    • annetteghallowe1 profile image

      annetteghallowe1 9 years ago

      Hooray! I had never seen rubix art before. Where have I been? Now I want to make one too!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      I had one as a teenager. Never thought to do this with them! Great idea. Great lens! Faved, stumbled and 5*.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 9 years ago from Canada

      I can't believe this 'Scary' lens, it is great! I'll forward it to my teenage sons but hope not to have to buy tons of Rubik's Cubes!

      I read this week that the Rubik's Cube is set to make a comeback this Christmas. Did you know that you can take a tutorial on YouTube? The article I read was on Telegraph.co.uk, if you are interested in reading more.

      Brenda

    • profile image

      RedSportNiac 9 years ago

      Cool lens. I used to play cubics before unfortunately have never mastered it. Who thought this game could turn into an art things.

    • ShannonC LM profile image

      Shannon Chiarenza 9 years ago from Vancouver bc

      Very creative...love it :)

    • profile image

      totalhealth 9 years ago

      solving 1 rubik's cube is fun but I don't think i have the patience and the imagination to create this interesting artwork. very nice lens

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 9 years ago

      Fun - five stars and stumbled :) I put up some extra explanations on my stumbleupon for lensmasters page Thanks for the feedback, and I hope it's clear now.

    • Lou165 profile image

      Lou165 9 years ago from Australia

      This is cool and it looks so much easier than actually "solving" The Cube!

    • NAIZA LM profile image

      NAIZA LM 9 years ago

      Terrific lens! I really like it. I learned a lot of new techniques in playing Rubik Cube. Definitely, a fabulous five!

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 9 years ago from Ireland

      Fantastic lens! You have patience galore. 5 stars deserved!

    • Kanga LM profile image

      Kanga LM 9 years ago

      Wow, that's amazing! I would never have the patience to do that! :-P

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Love the new pics! :-) This is so fun!

    • cineteq profile image

      John Parr 9 years ago from Montreal

      Excellent lens, very artistic. It deserves the highest rating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I like your lens very much! bookmarked!

      I love squidoo. I hate ACNE

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Nice lens! 5 stars given! :)

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Oh, wow! How fascinating! Great tutorial for a very unique topic. More pictures, please!

    • N376 profile image

      N376 9 years ago

      Excellent idea and fantastic lens!

    • steve866 profile image

      steve866 9 years ago

      Very strange art form, yikes. Anyway you did a good job with it.

    • girlfriendfactory profile image

      girlfriendfactory 9 years ago

      Wow, I'd never heard of this before looking at your lens. This is fascinating! The Girlfriend Factory

    • profile image

      AlexZuw 9 years ago

      Impressive lens, interesting content

    • profile image

      JasonE 9 years ago

      Very cool! Welcome to Squidoo!

    • profile image

      bdkz 9 years ago

      Very neat idea!

    • profile image

      WhippetTalk 9 years ago

      Wow! I would go nuts trying to work out a pattern on all those cubes. Kudos to those who do this. Truly an art in patience and logic to be sure.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 9 years ago from USA

      What a wonderful idea! Nice work on the lens too!

    • imagesbykim profile image

      imagesbykim 9 years ago

      Luv this!!!