Rubik's Cube Sticker Mods And Picture Cubes

Stickers are crucial on a Rubik's Cube because they mark the solved state of the puzzle but when the classic six coloured yellow-white-green-blue-orange-red scheme becomes boring some cubers might be looking for new challenges. Picture cubes and other custom sticker mods like the Sudoku, the Maze, the Rainbow, the Corner Twist, the Lizard, the Calendar, the Tartan Cube all bring a new twist to the game. We have already presented the shape mods, now let's talk about the sticker mods.

A few custom coloured sticker desings

The most popular models

The Shepherd's Cube

The Shepherd's Cube, invented by Alistair Shepherd has white stickers with black arrows on each piece and it's a real brain teaser. The goal is to bring the puzzle to a state where all the 9 arrows point in the same direction on all faces. First we have to examine the corner pieces to determine the "direction" of each face.
The standard Shepherd's notation is the following: Front face arrows have to point upwards; Left towards you; Top to the left. The arrows on the opposite side of the cube point in the other direction so if the front arrows are pointing upwards, then they're pointing downwards on the back. There should be two opposite corners which don't change, no matter how they are rotated and we have to use these as starting points. In the first step of the solution we have to align the center pieces to match these. Once the centers are oriented correctly we have the reference points.

The Sudoku Cube

The rules of the Sudoku Cube are very simple. In solved state every number must be listed from 1 to 9 on every face and they all have to be facing the same way which gives a specific challenge to this puzzle. The arrangement of the numbers may vary on different models and the solution of this puzzle is extremely difficult if you didn't memorize them.
The illustration below shows the solved state of the most common Sudoku Cube model and it might be a great help while you're solving the puzzle.

 1 5 2 4 6 3 7 8 9 3 9 7 1 4 2 4 3 6 9 7 1 6 1 5 8 7 3 7 5 1 2 4 8 8 2 4 6 9 5 9 2 8 5 3 6 4 6 5 9 1 2 7 8 3

The Maze Cube

I think most of us are afraid of being lost in a maze. This Maze Cube is definitely a real nightmare which will capture you for eternity, unless you are really smart and you find your way out.

If you ever get a Maze Cube you better glue the pieces together and never dare to scramble it. It's hard to get it solved even if you take it apart and put it back together because every face has a unique pattern. Solving this beauty without having in hand the image of the solved state or any other references is a real genius test where 99% fails.

The Calendar Cube

If the previous models seem to be too complicated then try the Calendar Cube. The goal is to set only one face to show the current date. The upper layer shows the name of the day, the middle layer shows the first three letters of the month and you can read the date on the bottom pieces.

It is amazing that a 3x3x3 puzzle is enough to combine every possible date in a year.

This is how a real puzzle geek keeps track of the current date!

Picture Cubes

Picture cube stickers can depict any image and they combine the twisty puzzles and the jigsaw puzzles. Usually they are promotional cubes showing a company logo but in most cases they have six individual square images. The Earth Cube is one of the most famous picture cubes which is also available in 7x7x7 version and it is great because all the six faces are coherent.

Create Your Own Custom Printed Cube

All you need is a printer and a custom sticker kit. These are available for sale and include blank sheets of pre-cut printable sticker labels which allow you to create your custom puzzle design with any image you can think of. All you have to do is scale the images to the correct size on your computer and print them on the sheets. The possibilities are endless.

Tactile Tiles

It's not carved in stone that the pieces of the Rubik's Cube have to be marked with vinyl stickers. Tactile tiles can also be applied on the pieces to mark the faces. Solving them blindfolded builds hand-mind coordination, rather than hand-eye coordination. Start solving the cube without even looking at it.

The concept of the Braille Rubik's Cube is an attempt to adjust the toy to the needs of the visually impaired, letting them feel the colours by touching. The first three letters of the colours are written on the cube in braille and the totally white cube makes it impossible to solve it without being able to read braille. This concept strengthens awareness of blindness.

How to rotate center pieces of picture cubes

The solution of a picture cube is similar to the solution of the Rubik's Cube, once you figured out the correct position of the pieces. The only difference is that in some cases you might want to reorient the center pieces to match them to the edges. The classic Rubik's Cube center pieces are monochromatic so you don't have to worry about the orientation of the core cubelets. Of course some puzzle brands might have a logo on one of the center faces but this doesn't make any difference.

According to the mathematics of the Rubik's Cube the parity doesn't allow only one center to be misaligned. When all the edge and corner pieces are solved and there's a center with incorrect alignment then there must be at least another twisted center.

The algorithms

To rotate only the center pieces do one of the algorithms below. Please familiarize with the Rubik's Cube Notation if you don't understand what the letters mean.

Turn two centers 90 degrees at the same time:
F Clockwise, U Counterclockwise : ( M' U M U' ) x 5
F Counterclockwise, U Clockwise : ( M' U' M U ) x 5

To turn the U center 180o : ( R U R' U ) x 5
Or do the T-Permutation twice: [ (R U R' U') (R' F) (R2 U') (R' U' R U) (R' F') ] x 2

To minimize the amount of misaligned centers we must pay attention to their orientation when we are solving the first layer edges. This is that part of the solution when we have the possibility to assign a final orientation to all center pieces in the first two layers.

Stickering Big Cubes And Other Twisty Puzzles

Every custom 3x3 sticker sheet idea can be applied for bigger cubes and many other twisty puzzles too. Increasing the number of the layers of the puzzle is raising the difficulty as well. Usually the Rubik's Cube stickers determine the solved state of the puzzle but shape shifting twisty puzzles, like the Fisher Cube, Mirror Cube or the Ghost Cube often come with all solid colour stickers and the goal is to bring them to the original shape, without pieces sticking out.

A collection of custom twisty puzzle sticker mods exhibited on the Dutch Cube Day 2015
(Picture by Tony Fisher)

One of the most common sticker mods for big cubes is the Super "Pochmann" Cube which also looks great on dodecahedron-shaped puzzles, like the Petaminx. With this design variation every single piece has its own precise position and orientation, even the ones in the middle layer. The Super Teraminx on the image has 732 individual stickers.

The V-Cube 7 Illusion is a 7x7x7 Big Cube and it has a checkerboard pattern on all faces. It doesn't have any stickers, the pieces are made of coloured black and white plastic. This cube looks like crossword puzzles when scrambled.

The Leaf Pyraminx is a tetrahedron-shaped puzzle and it has triangle cut stickers. All the leafs have the same shape and the same colours can be found on each side which make the puzzle really confusing when scrambled. Similar designs are often made using entangled fish or lizard images on all kind of twisty puzzles.

Usually the shape shifting Mirror Cube comes with solid silver or gold stickers. It's a monochrome Rubik's Cube where heights are marking the pieces instead of colours. The customizable Horror Mirror Cube by Olivér Stickers (link at the end of the article) is a sticker mod where we apply the solved colour scheme on a scrambled cube. This way the cube will have two correct solutions, by colour or by shape.

The most expensive Rubik's Cube

The first Rubik's Cube prototype was made of wood, but the plastic is the most favoured material for regular users. In 1995 Diamond Cutters International crafted their cube in 18 carat yellow gold and there are 25 precious stones on each panel: white diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

The Masterpiece Cube took about 8500 man hours to make and is valued at 2.5 million USD.

This cube would be a really generous Christmas present for your cuber friends. :)