Picture Rubik's Cube




Introduction: Picture Rubik's Cube

This instructable will help you turn your regular Rubik's cube into a more personalized cube with your own pictures on it. I found something similar to this here, but i felt like it wasn't enough to it, and since I didn't find anything else too similar to this, I thought about posting this up. The total cost was less than $15 ($6 for one cube )dollars with supplies from Walgreens, considering Walgreens is a bit overpriced in my opinion.

WARNING: Part of the options to this instructable include using sharp (scalpel) blades, or a paper cutter machine. Do NOT attemp to use either one if you do not know how to use them efficiently, and most importantly, safely. Ask an adult for help if you do not have scissors and you are a child. Blades can, and most likely will snap, break, and propel the broken bits like shrapnel when the wrong type of pressure is applied at the wrong angle. Wear safety goggles if you must use blades. As for the paper cutter, use common sense and see what and where you are cutting before you decide to slam the blade down on the paper.

I was able to find a Rubik's Cube promotion in a Walgreens near my house. It was 2 for $10 dollars. So I bought 2 and later went back to buy another two, only to find out the promotion was over. I usually don't shop or buy stuff from Walgreens, but it's the nearest store to where I am that has supplies that I need. I've found that the help there (and various other stores) is pretty much non-existent. Not to mention Radioshack, where they don't know the difference between LED and IED, and which I am forced to buy from since other electronics stores and too far to make a project within a day.

Total cost for everything was about $15 dollars.
Total cost for one unit was about $ 6.
If you have some supplies, they will obviously save you money.

But enough of that, let's get on with the project!

Step 1: Supplies

You will need the following:

- Rubik's Cube. Authentic would be the best, since the size hardly/never? varies from cube to cube.
- Computer. Obviously you're using one right now, unless it's not yours or it's a smart device.
- Double-sided stick tape.
- Paper. Photo paper would be better.
- Contact Paper. (or another type of cold laminating sheet. if you don't have that, you can use old/unused screen protectors for device screens, you'll need about 6. If you don't have either one, use thick clear plastic tape.
- Printer. (to print out the pictures, what else)
- Photoshop. Any version 7 and above is fine.
- Scissors. (If for some reason you don't have scissors, you can use a blade, though your cuts won't look as clean. You may also use a paper cutter to ease the process if you are familiar using them.)
- A clean desk/workplace (Optional)

Step 2: The Pictures

The first step is making the pictures into the right size. I used Photoshop to edit and crop my pictures. For those of you who don't have PS, I tried using Microsoft's Image Resizer Powertoy, but it only resized its height, not length, so I ended up with pictures that were 305x175, which are not square. If you know of an inexpensive or free program that would allow you to do so, please leave a comment mentioning so.

Open up a picture you wish to print out onto the cube, and use the Crop tool. Before you select the area to crop, change the settings to: 305px (pixels) by 305px at 500px per square inch. The reason I chose 500pixels per inch was because when I printed them at regular size, and not at that resolutions, they became very pixelized?/pixelated? Then click and drag the area that you want to keep. It helps if you have Snap to Document Edges turned on, if you're trying to keep most of the picture. After you're done selecting, press Enter or Return and you should have your new resized picture.

Step 3: Print Layout

Open up the: "Rubik's Cube Mod Layout 2 Ready" PS Document. Drag and Drop your resized pictures into it, and line them up onto the grid. Like the picture shows. Again, it helps to turn on the snap to guides setting. You can find it under View> Snap To> Guides. If your pictures are dark overall, or dark around the edge, move the White Divider layer to the top. If the pictures are light overall or around the edges, move the Black Dividers layer to the top.

You MUST put either layer as the top layer if you want the cutting process later on to be easier. Experiment with either layer to see which one makes the edges stand out the most. To do this, you will have to visually turn off the guides, since the dividers are underneath, or close to the guides, making it hard/impossible to see them. Go to View> Extras and you should see the dividers on the top.

I've included a few pictures if you'd like to use them. They're already resized and ready to use.
To save them unto your computer, right-click on the images, and select Save Image As, and either rename them, or click Save

*Note: The pictures are mine and are distributed under Non-Commercial Creative Commons license.

Step 4: Printing

After making sure (if you decided to) that the correct divider layer is at the top and visible, go to File> Print with Preview and make sure these settings are correct. Scale Print Size must stay at 100%. Uncheck the "Scale to Fit Media" box if it's selected. Usually, PS will center your image, so uncheck/untick the "Center Image" option.You may also want to move the image to the left side of the page before printing, so that you can use the middle and right side later on with the rest of the images to be printed. Make sure you don't accidentally resize it while doing so. If you wish, you can turn on the "Corner Crop Marks" if you think they will help you when cutting out the image.

Click on Print when you're satisfied with the settings, and use whichever photo paper you have at hand. Do not use regular paper if you have photo paper available, as the difference will result in how sturdy, durable the pictures stay/remain on the cube.

Step 5: Laminating

You'll only need to laminate one side. Using a laminating sheet such as Contact Paper, will help protect the ink from water, body oil in the hands, and scratches. If you don't have Contact Paper, use another type of cold laminating sheet, or you can use old/unused electronic device (iPod, PDA) screen protectors instead (6 of them). Make sure the printed out image fits inside the screen protector plastic sheet. If you don't have either one, use some thick, clear tape instead.

Another thing to use is an actual laminating machine. I have one, but have not tested laminating my printed out image, since I believe the plastic will be too thick and stiff to effectively use on the cube. Also, you'll only need to laminate the image on one side. Using an actual laminator would require you to peel off the back, possibly ripping the paper in half thick wise, and taking some paper with it, leaving the rest at random thicknesses everywhere, not to mention parts of the image.

I was careful not to waste any contact paper, since I didn't have much left. I used the closely and cleanly cut paper, and placed it against a corner in the contact paper, and used a pencil and traced around it. I left a little edge all around, to account for human error. After that, I carefully placed the paper in the middle of the peeled off contact paper. I then pressed against it and down with a square piece of plastic serving as a squeegee to remove air bubbles from the surface.

If your not as careful or have plenty of laminating sheet to use, then just place it somewhere on a corner, and cut the paper square out.

Here I used old screen protectors, since I liked the texture they gave once they're finished.

After doing that, cut off the tiny, or big, plastic excess edges.

Step 6: Cutting Off Lamination Edges.

After you've laminated the image, cut off the edges (excess). If you have one of those long blade paper cutters thing of a machine, and you know how to efficiently and safely operate it, it will make this process easier. Otherwise just use scissors.

Step 7: Cutting Up the Picture

Use the Dividers printed over the whole image at the border of each image as a guide as to where to cut. Normally I would use a scalpel blade, but since I could not find the "pencil" or handle to it, I had to use scissors. I tried the blade anyways, but wasn't as well coordinated without the blade handle.

Make sure you have plenty of light when cutting to ensure your squares don't end up looking like a crushed up box after shipping from the post office. Cut out all the squares, and move on to the next step.

Step 8: Taping

When you are done cutting up your printed image into smaller squares, turn them over and apply the double-stick/double sided tape as so. The first time I did this, I was really stingy with the tape, but after having done one cube, I decided that there was enough tape in the roll to not be so stingy. Cut a piece of tape slightly longer than the piece of paper and using your nails or fingers, place it over the paper in a straight line with the paper. If you want, or are not too careful/don't care about wasting tape, you can cut two pieces of tape slightly longer than the piece of paper and place them halfway inside towards the outside. Try not to overlap the pieces of tape, as it will cause the picture to bulge when you stick it in the cube. The bulge is enough to rub against the side of your finger or nails when handling the cube,and eventually causing the piece of bulging paper to come off, rip off,or simply get bent around the edges.

Using the scissors (no blade or paper cutter this time) cut the excess tape around the paper off. If you've used thick/stiff laminating sheet, you can cut the tape off at a shallow angle. As long as you don't cut in a steep angle, the scissors will be guided along the edge by the thickness of the paper, enabling you to cut it off more cleanly.

After you've cut off the excess tape, cut off a tiny corner piece off each corner like in the picture. This gives it a more rounded look, and helps prevent the corner edge from being caught by your nail or hands when using the cube. If you have the patience or time, you could go ahead and actually make a tiny round cut in each corner.

Step 9: Taping to Cube

The cube must be unscrambled or solved, so that it's easier to remember which face is which, otherwise, just don't mix it up while you're doing this project. Peel off the color stickers with your hand/nails. Some glue residue will remain. I simply used my finger to rub it off into a ball. Peel off all the stickers from one color only, not all the color stickers from the whole cube itself, so that you don't mix up which "direction/face" is which.

Clean the surface with a damp cloth and dry it off with a dry towel/napkin. Don't use too much water, or it can leak inside your cube. Then carefully place the piece of paper in the middle of the empty square. Before you press down on it, make sure that's where you want it. If it's ok, press down on it with your finger and don't use your fingernails to do so, as the pressure on such a small surface area can cause the ink to "run" making it smudgy

Place the other 8 pieces of paper on, facing the same direction, and you're done with one face.

Repeat from Step 2 and above for the rest of the images/sides and congratulations, you're done!



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    24 Discussions

    Dude, why didn't you just order the custom sticker sheets off the Rubik's website?
    It would've been way easier, but it's a great Instructable anyways.

    Also..if you use sheets of double sided adhesive it can be applied before cutting mages apart and the backing peeled off when you go to apply, then you have edge to edge adhesive and don't have to work with cutting off tiny pieces of tape. You do need nails or an exacto knife tip sometimes to start the peel back.

    The single picture on each side works if it's a scenery picture. Usually if the picture is of a person it just doesn't work when you have to cut into faces. Cutting the pieces into the smaller blocks is easiest with an exacto knife and metal ruler. There is a whole scrapbooking technique called mosaics that use this same method.

    I have a Rubik's cube with a full picture on each side. I'm able to get each side solved except that the center square isn't facing in the right direction as the rest of the picture. Something I don't have to worry about on a normal cube. Does anyone know how I can get each of the center square facing the right direction on each side without messing up the other sides?

    2 replies

    Ah, I've had this problem too. On a normal cube, the center twits also, you just don't notice because its a single color. When you make the cross make sure the center is oriented to the cross/edge piece before inserting the second layer edges. Once all 4 centers are oriented correctly you can continue with the cube and it will end up like normal. I hope I helped. I guess i'm not too good at explaining things. If you have any questions just ask :)

    just made one of these for a christmas present. was discouraged at first because of all the photoshop talk... pixels, resolution, grids, UGH! Luckily, myspace's new "picture cube" feature allows you so choose 5 pictures which it then resizes to about a 3"x3" size in a printable format. I used those pics then cut the 9 nine little squares for my rubik's. just an idea for those of you who are not so good with the photoshop/image editing software like me!

    on their website u can buy a kit that can do all this for $10 all u have to do is get the pics and print themits also much much easier

    2 replies

    I use the GIMP, It's a free image editing software.
    Here's the Link

    whats the version of photoshop are you using?

    is it possible to have the whole picture on 1 face instead of dividing the pictures in to smaller parts of 9?

    How do use Adobe on this site? please help me out?

    I haven't used the application yet, I am still trying to figure out all the functions but there is "OpenOffice" and in that suite is something called DRAW. OpenOffice is free and legitimate office software, and could rival Microsoft Office 2003 (The version most people have, and if not, should get because, in my opinion, Microsoft Office 2007 stinks) It has something called "DRAW" I haven't been able to sit and play with it yet, I've only used OpenOffice for word processing, presentations and spreadsheets, so far but there are other applications in the package. You download which ever ONE application you need, or you can get the WHOLE SUITE. FREE.

    I have it on my laptop with Win XP and a standard DSL connection. It took about 40 minutes to download (I was watching videos on at the sametime) and took about 5 minutes for me to install. I dont think it was hard at all to do, but there is a FAQ and Tutorial section on the website. There is also OpalOffice, I haven't used it, it costs about $15 but all the reviews I've read are very positive (I'm just very broke T_T) thought I remember someone saying that it was just a revamped version of OpenOffice.

    OH! I've done all this rambling and didn't put a Link.

    This is awesome, thanks! I am going to make this for my son's birthday. And awesome job with the explainations and pics.

    1 reply

    Thanks. I'm updating it today, because there are a few errors or parts hard to understand, as soon as I get the digital camera back.

    Dividing each picture into 9 squares to make each of the 6 sides a puzzle itself would create a nice challenge.

    1 reply