How To Prepare Rubik’s Cube Art

Here was my procedure to create plans for the Rubik’s Cube Art I posted a couple days ago.

  1. get The GIMP (for free)
  2. create a “Rubik’s Cube” palette
    1. go to “windows” -> “dockable dialogs” -> “palettes”
    2. right click in the palette window and choose “New Palette”
    3. give it a name
    4. in the main toolbox window, click on the two rectangles overlapping each other to select the color you want
    5. back on the new palette, right click and select “New Color From FG”
    6. repeat this for the six colors of the cube
  3. get a source image
  4. open it with GIMP
  5. go to “image” -> “scale image” and enter the number of pixels you want (just enter the new width and the new height will be auto-computed to preserve the aspect ratio)
  6. go to “image” -> “mode” -> “indexed” and choose your new palette
  7. go to “view” -> “show grid”
  8. go to “image” -> “configure grid” and choose 3×3 pixels
  9. go to “view” -> “zoom” -> “fit image in window”

This should get you a pixelated, sextacolored version of your original image.


  • The Schrodinger Equation and the Double Helix were hand-made (one by me and one by another camp counselor). I recommend creating a blank cube background and filling in the individual squares with the paint bucket tool. Here’s a GIMP native image for 12×12 cubes: CUBE_blank.xcf
    or as a .jpg: CUBE_blank.jpg
  • very detailed images won’t work unless you have a lot of cubes
  • text is easier than pictures
  • you may want to tweak the palette some, or make it more than six colors. If your original image doesn’t have much contrast, GIMP will make huge swaths all the same color, and you won’t have detail there. Try altering one or two of your original palette colors to be more similar to the color being overused
  • it might help to adjust the original image brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation before recoloring it
  • it seemed to work better to rescale first, then recolor than the other way around. if you recolor first, make sure to choose “no interpolation” when you rescale the image
  • if you make something with a bunch of 5×5 cubes, rather than 3×3, you will be really cool
  • It shouldn’t be very hard to have GIMP churn through all this automatically, but I’ve never tried writing a GIMP script before. Does anybody have a good (short, clear, basic) reference?


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6 Responses to “How To Prepare Rubik’s Cube Art”

  1. Lab Rat Says:

    Have you ever seen four-dimentional rubic’s cubes? They completely do my head in trying to understand them, but I had a friend who used to try and solve them in his free time.

  2. Mark Eichenlaub Says:

    Seen, yes. Had any chance of understanding/completing, no.

  3. Varun Says:

    Thanks a lot!
    This works amazingly well!

  4. Rowe Hessler Says:

    Hey this is very helpful but i have one quick question. I cant get a single color to stay in one box, some of them have more than one color. It’s hard to explain but i hope you understand. How can you fix this?

  5. Mark Eichenlaub Says:

    Hi Rowe,

    It sounds like you might have too many pixels. If you want to do 10 cubes by 10 cubes, for example, rescale the picture to 30 pixels by 30 pixels.

    If you’re already doing that, it might be that you’re recoloring first, then rescaling. Try rescaling first, then recoloring.

  6. Varun K. Says: :)

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