31 March 2007


The Cube-in-Cube is one of the few patterns that can be adapted to all orders of puzzle cubes: Rubik's Cube, Rubik's Revenge, Meffert's Master Cube, Rubik's Wahn, et cetera.

In fact, there are a variety of options for the higher order cubes. Should the smaller cube be 2x2 or 3x3? Or even 4x4 (on the 5x5)? Take your pick.

I used Eastsheen cubes for the 2x2x2, 4x4x4, and 5x5x5 in the illustration and a Famwealth 3x3x3 that had a similar color scheme on the red-yellow-blue faces. The colors on the 3x3 don't quite match on the reverse side, as shown below.

30 March 2007

3x3 Snake

Sometimes called the Worm, the 3x3 Snake is a fairly common pattern for longtime Rubik's Cube enthusiasts. The colored stripe winds around each side of the cube, making a right-angle turn on each.

Many patterns on the higher-order cubes are derived from this basic 3x3 pattern.

29 March 2007

4x4 Crooked Snake

I'm partial to "snake" patterns that run from one side of the cube to another. The Crooked Snake is a variant of the common 3x3 Snake pattern, which runs through all six sides in a regular pattern as shown here.

Unlike the standard 3x3 Snake, this version has extra crooked turns on some sides but not others.

28 March 2007

4x4 Psychedelic Herringbone

The diagonal stripes crowd five different colors onto each face of a 4x4 cube. The pattern is created by rotating face and edge cubies around four of the cube's eight corners.

It's a worthwhile exercise for the experienced cuber, even if you don't really like how it looks.

27 March 2007

5x5 Be My Valentine

The bright colors of Eastsheen's 5x5 cube inspired me to build this heart shape on its red and white sides. The other four sides have an abstract 2-color pattern that just occupies the remaining pieces, nothing terribly special.

Sometime I'd like to try to extend a theme to the remaining sides, such as X's and O's for hugs and kisses. Uh...that's beginning to sound a bit too cutesy for me.

The cube is a contemporary Eastsheen A5. Here's a view of some of the other, uninteresting sides.

26 March 2007

4x4 Quad Color Boxes

At first this looks like a rotation around a single corner, but the cubie placement is a little more complex to allow four colors per side. An ordinary rotation pattern has no more than three colors per side.

Another distinguishing characteristic is that all six face colors are visible from each of the two views.

This is a Meffert's Master Cube from the mid-1990's when they were using tiles in a color scheme with red opposite white.

25 March 2007

4x4 Three-way Stripe

This simple geometric pattern requires only 12 moves starting from a solved cube.

And it looks about the same from all vantage points: any 3 faces you look at will point in three different directions.

This three-stripe pattern swaps all center cubies with those on the opposite face, something that can't be done on a 2x2, 3x3, or 5x5 cube. So unless the fabled 6x6 Olympic Cube becomes readily available this pattern is restricted to the 4x4 Rubik's Revenge (and equivalent 4x4 cubes).

The illustrated cube is a 1982 Rubik's Revenge, made in Macau. At the time, that would technically make it a Portuguese cube.

24 March 2007

5x5 Isle of Man

This abstract pattern represents the Armored Triskelion from the coat of arms and flag of the Isle of Man. Due to mechanical constraints, the two figures in my representation are running in opposite directions.

Despite its apparent simplicity, I was forced to adopt the thick thigh for practical reasons rather than aesthetic ones.

This cube is about twenty years old, probably a Rubik's Wahn, but it has held up magnificently except for a chipped sticker on one of its corners.

2x2 Twist

Very few patterns are possible on the 2x2 puzzle cubes because there are only 8 parts, each of which can be deflected into 3 orientations. 8 doesn't divide evenly into 3.

This "pattern" demonstrates the problem rather clearly. I had to arrange it with two slightly different patterns, depending on which side you view it from. One side includes an extra twist of one of the corners.

3x3 Illusion Pinwheel

The Illusion Pinwheel is a rather subtle pattern. At first it can be difficult to see, hence the 'illusion' part. The picture shows two views of the same cube so you can see all sides.

This pattern demonstrates that the 3x3 cube can conjure more interesting patterns than just the typical checkboards and squares you see so often.

Edge cubies are face-agnostic, meaning the edge piece serves different functions on two adjacent faces. For example, the green-yellow piece represents the background on the green face and part of the pinwheel on the blue face.

The cube itself is a cheap, shoddy Magic Keychain cube that retails for less than a dollar. The pieces are riddled with defects and it has one of the worst color combinations I've ever seen with pink, yellow, and two shades of orange. Yuck!