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Weekend Contest: Default Cube


cube contest

After seeing Mike Pan's awesome Default Cube Challenge project, I had a chat with him and we decided to turn it in to this weekend's contest for all of you!

Mike writes:

Let's get back to the basics! How much can you do with just a cube? This week, the contest will be an exercise in being creative with the tools that Blender offers: Start with the default cube, make something out of it without additional manual modelling.

Because this is not a thematic prompt, the rules are slightly different than the usual weekend contest:

Not Allowed:

  • Basically, any modeling of the cube is not allowed. This includes sculpting and any manipulation of the base mesh. Keep those 8 vertices exactly where they are!
  • Curves, Surfaces, Metaball and Text are not allowed when used as on-screen geometry. You can use curves as guides.


  • Any number of Empty, Lattice, Light, Camera, Group, Material, Texture and Nodes. Modifier stack, particles and simulation are allowed and encouraged.
  • Weight painting is the exception to the ‘No editing of base mesh’ rule and is allowed. Go nuts with Vertex Groups if it helps.
  • Small Python snippets, provided it's written for this contest. Massive add-ons that dump a whole city with one click is not cool.
  • Curves when they are not being used directly as geometry.
  • Post-processing using Blender or other apps. As long as the post-processing does not introduce any significantly new visual element.
  • To encourage clever (ab)use of the library system, multiple Blend file is allowed. But each file needs to adhere to all the rules above.
  • Please limit the rendering engine to BI or Cycles, so others can easily reproduce your render.

The submission must also accompany the Blend file. Because half the fun is seeing how others use the cube.

For some ideas, check out my own on-going experiment on DefaultCubism. Have fun!

This weekend's contest will have TWO winners: the first one is the regular community vote, determined by voting on the entries below. The second one is picked by Mike himself, as he is the current cube master ;-)

Have fun!

Update: As this is a 'special' weekend contest, I'm afraid that I can't let the winner pick next week's topic - it has already been chosen by Aliasguru! Of course the winner does get a full post to honor his/her work!

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. Rule Clarification:
    Only a single cube is allowed in a file. (Copy and pasting the cube inside a single scene is not allowed). But you can use multiple files to instance more than one cube.

  2. Does it have to use the default cube? What if my startup file doesn't have a cube, can I add one? It will not be the default cube.

    • Brian Lockett on

      Go to File > Load Factory Settings. For just that session, you'll start with the Blender default start-up.

  3. Brian Lockett on

    "Basically, any modeling of the cube is not allowed. This includes sculpting and any manipulation of the base mesh. Keep those 8 vertices exactly where they are!"

    Okay. ;)

    • This is neat. Might have been better if there was a bit less blur, kinda makes it hard to discern what were looking at.

  4. I made a couple different ones and I couldn't decide which one to use (I assume it's one entry only, right?), so here's the one that finished rendering first ;)

    Please ignore the noise and lack of pixels (I'll try to render it with more samples later).

  5. I wasn't planning on making anything for this but playing around with the cube turned out to be really fun. I guess I'm way too easily distracted.

  6. First contest entry! :)
    A pretty simple scene using a particle system, the lighting, and compositing are doing the real work here. Minimal colourfull scenes are always really fun for me.

  7. "The Tree of Light"
    I loved experimenting with the various modifiers and it really showed the power of Blender, so much could be achieved with one cube. I linked 2 files, one for the ground and one for the "tree". I am not sure how to upload my file,
    I would love any feedback on this work, what I could improve and/or change!

  8. skyler lehmkuhl on

    I had a go at a city scene. The water is really a duplicate of the city, flipped and scaled up.

    Edit: How do I upload the .blend?

  9. Here is my entry to the weekend contest, its called "And a cube jumped over the Moon". Rendered at 1440p, in Cycles, at 2000 samples. Made with 4 libraries with one cube each, 4 cubes in total to make the whole scene, composited in Blender. Is this my best artwork ever, no... but it is definitely a thought provoking experience trying to figure how to do somethings without touching the cube. All in all, a very well thought out challenge indeed, I salute you mikepan. :)

    Here is a link to the full size image:

    I will be glad to upload the .blend file if anyone wants it.

    P.S. Disqus made the image kinda dark, click the link to see all of the detail.

  10. Had way too much fun with this. Ended up making about 30 of these before I had to force myself to just stop and render one out. Ended up using 2 files, one for the crazy modifier stack, one with just the default cube that I brought in as the particles. I'll get some screenshots up tomorrow.

    • I dont`n know haw to upload the blender file but i put some screenshots.
      The procces is simple. I use make human for reference and i sculpt the cube, but it`s a time consuming procces and i sculpt just one char and for others i use boolean modifier to combine the meshes. it`s possible to sculpt every character, but the object well not be ready for render at the end of this contest.
      For me is important to show caz everything in modeling can be started from a cube.

  11. :) Hmm, I'm not sure how to add the blend file onto here :P (Guess I'll try to figure out "dropbox" when it's not 4 am)

    • Brian Lockett on

      Dropbox is pretty simple. Just install the program, sign up with an account, and place your files to be shared into the Dropbox folder on your computer. That's it.

      As long as the Dropbox program is running in the background on your computer, the content in the Dropbox folder on your computer syncs up with your Dropbox online storage tied to your Dropbox account, which you can access your account from any device and share download links with others.

      Another service like Dropbox is one called Copy, which I find uploads my files a bit faster than Dropbox. I use both. Also, if you have a Google account anywhere (YouTube, Gmail, etc.), you automatically have a Google Drive account, which is the same kind of service. :)

  12. "To encourage clever (ab)use of the library system, multiple Blend file
    is allowed. But each file needs to adhere to all the rules above." What exatly does this mean? Does this mean importing? Or does this mean compositing? Can you use geometry to create a alpha mask then composite two renders together?

  13. Well, here's my render. It's just one cube with two arrays, two subsurf and a displace modifier, a single material mix of diffuse and translucent, with a voronoi displacement, and also two emptys, three spot lights and a sun. After that, I've just added a couple of nodes in the compositing mode to adjust the Hue&Saturation and the Brightness&Contrast. Here is the link for the .blend file:!7MkRVBiB!X78Cbqg_pjHLY2joet3QlMjtK5EZ89O0BFLwv_34WV0

  14. No mention of whether or not I could use Linked Duplicates so I did. I've had to use some xyz transforms to move the objects around but there is zero scaling. All objects are Linked Duplicates of the Default Cube. I'm kind of proud of the bowl. Yes that's a cube with a modifier stack too.

    • Well it was a pretty obvious choice I wanted to do something a bit more mainstream than the weird and wonderful distorted shapes I was expecting here. I admit the wood texture was made in 10 minutes and is pretty crap and the orange peel is a library texture by Juan Jose Torres and slightly modified.
      Spheres are easy with a cube and a displace modifier can be used without a bitmap to shift the origin of an object when doing things like cast to sphere etc... (Shhh it's how I did the bowl) and cast can also be used to resize an object if it's a cube, sphere or cylinder.
      Oh and it's lit by... You guessed it... A cube.

      I thought it would be a good idea to post a link to the blend.

      • Brian Lockett on

        Hey, considering the special limitations for this already time-limited weekend challenge, doing something more mainstream but concrete as a concept is more different and daring than the abstract, as beautiful as they are. In terms of actually pulling off something that's a recognizable scene using "Default Cubism," this one's a winner in my book. Clever use of the modifiers.

  15. so here's my entry: "Inside the Default Cube". It was inspired by the great artists of minimalsim, however it was a challenging scene for Blender in the end. I will upload the file later on, but make sure you have the lates 2.70a release installed on your system, otherwise it will fail!

    rendered in cycles at 1 sample to save some render time, absolutely no compositing involved!

  16. Philipp Fehrmann on

    Yay, first entry for me :) This is just the default cube with some modifiers and material. Hope you like it.

    • Brian Lockett on

      I do all the time.

      I find that what you'll have to do is post something, and soon after you post it, click on your name. When you do, you'll see a list of your recent posts. However your post shows up in that listing is how your post will show up after some time. You have to wait a while for the post to show up properly sometimes. I don't think they're deleted--they're just touchy about when they show up.

      When you post it, keep refreshing the page after a few minutes to check to see if it's updated correctly--otherwise, if you keep re-posting, you'll wind up with duplicate posts. You'll probably have two images on your hands after a few minutes here. You'll have to ask Bart to delete them for you, if you want them gone, because if you try to delete, they'll show up as posts from "Guest." Happens to me all the time.

      Welcome to my love-hate relationship with Disqus.

  17. Weston Martin on

    Here is my entry. Its called Underwater Cubyfish. I used After Effects for the Glare, the Rays, and the Vignette if that's ok. Otherwise Blender was used for everything. Man. You gotta love cubes!

  18. A couple questions:

    Are multiple entries allowed?

    And is it allowed to apply transforms? I wasn't sure, since it is equivalent scaling in edit mode, yet without actually entering edit mode at all.

    • The rules aren't so black and white. So don't get hung up on them too much. I will allow apply transforms.

      Sure, why not have multiple entries.

  19. This is my third try at posting my second entry (which disappeared the first and second times), apologies in advance if this is only on my end.

    I wanted to try creating something a little more organic looking and less like a cube ;)

    The preview is a little fuzzy, it looks better if you click on it.


  20. Here's my first weekend contest attempt; one cube with modifiers for the spaceship, some particles forces and smoke sim, and a linked cube for the smoke domain.I also used a backround image - I hope that's ok, could'nt get a reply on that one.

        • Brennan McFarland on

          Those are the kinds of questions you should be asking. Where is the cube? What happened to it? Why is it not on the screen? Is it camouflaged? Is it a happy cube, or a sad cube? Does it feel ashamed to present itself to us? Such uncertainty overwhelms us with an onslaught of emotion. The default gray background presents itself imposingly to you, and the utter deficiency of color is striking. Most overwhelming, however, is the complete desolation and absence of anything in the picture. The sheer blankness of the image, its avant-gardeness, it's complete awesomeness fills us with a sense of wonder and awe.

  21. Alien landscape. One cube with ocean modifier + one cube appended from another file with screw modifier and array modifier with bezier curve. I was going for a hand drawn look. Feed back is welcome and appreciated. Thanks!

  22. AspiringAnimator on

    So, this is probably really late in the game, but here's my go anyway... I call it: "What is this, I don't even..."
    Basically, I just started subdividing and extruding. Then, it looked like an alien-ish shape, so I went "hey, this needs some green emission." At the time, I didn't realize that it was the same color scheme as the omnitrix from Ben 10, but anyways...
    Enjoy! Comments and critiques appreciated! :)

  23. Since more than one entry is allowed and my first entry looked like I rendered the dark side of the moon... Here is my second entry called "Voxel Goodness". Yes indeed it is just one cube that is used in the scene to make the object and another library cube to make the image-light cube underneath it. Rendered in Cycles at 2000 samples.

  24. Jonathan Lampel on

    I tried to make something pretty, but it didn't work out. So I just started using random modifiers and nodes. Ended up looking like I was on something a little too strong...

  25. Here's my third entry (I'm having way too much fun ;) hopefully I haven't enter too many)..
    I challenged myself to make a recognizable object, instead of an abstract something.

    Made with two files, each with a single unedited cube (one for the rack and one for the glass).
    The rack is nothing special, just a bevel modifier and an array modifier.

    Blendfile for the glass

  26. Texture on 1 of cube's face... basically just uv unwrap it, put texture, align cam. Done under 5 minutes, best result ever. XD

  27. My Image: "Cubic Tesseract" 3 Cubes with Array Modifier and a glowing one.

    I'm sorry about the four Cubes, but Link and Append don't works on my Pc.

  28. Andre Strydom on

    A wild Borg Cube appeared!
    I see all the wonderful images above that does magic with all the modifiers. I'm not very good at that, but still felt like I had to contribute something. The Borg Cube detail is the result of a displacement map. The stars and nebulae is achieved by placing many lights in a linked large Volume Scatter cube. The render took 7 hours on my i7.
    (click on image to enlarge)

    • I had the same idea but didnt have time to make it happen. I`ll study the .blend file but I already see the differences we have on that idea. Still, it is looks great :)

        • Thank you, I just came home from a meeting. This is the first contest in wich I am participating, so what is the deadline for our entries? And in which timezone?

  29. Hello everybody,
    this is my submission for this interesting challenge :)
    I called it: The Cube Creation, hope you like it!

    I've used Blender 2.7, rendered in Cycles. Everything is simple. I used few scenes to achieve the piece.(3 different cubes in different files, some particles, modifiers, shape and some empties - I'm not sure how much actually :)). There is a 2 images attached here, one is almost raw direct from blender, the other is after little photoshop touch - some levels, and color correction you choose which one's best :)

    Unfortunately my Satellite laptop has not enough power for something more :) also is very very hard process for the composing at the end, that's why I prefer 3rd part soft. however hope you like it. :)

    In short I will upload my .blend file, not sure where and how to share it yet.

    /any ideas?
    I'll try in this way, hope will work: - Whole File - Main shape - Background - Particle System


        • Hello Bart,

          I have a question about this contest. Everything was very nice so far, but I didn't understand did you check my entry at all? cause I think the "see more button" :) located under my submission. This "button" makes my works hidden for the all community and visitors :))

          For me personally this was more for fun than anything else, but I think when we talking about contest (people are pushing themselves to create something, they spend time - so the rules must be very clear and strict) > I don't think video and image are visually equal :)

          However I'm not appealing for myself, and I'm not pretending to be on your winner list etc.. But for next contests: strict rules, more transparency and clear exhibition.
          Into that way more people will participate, more people will vote and share all entries.

          Cheers & Happy Blending!

          • Yes I checked all entries and ranked them by the number of votes. Unfortunately Disqus places the 'more' button automatically, I don't have more control over that.

            What are you missing in terms of transparency and what do you mean with 'clear exhibition'? The weekend contests are a very simple concept, everyone can see all the entries and vote for them. The number of votes determines the winner - how much more transparency do you want?

  30. at last i finished my scene.If its all about cube then i thought whats the most famous cube in the world? RUBIKS CUBE!! I never solved one btw.

    My entry is "The lair of Rubic's King"

    made about hundreds of different simple cubes with different shaders. i just add in compositor some glare effect and tweak bright and contrast values. Hope you like it

    Great creations btw

  31. Wow, such awesome entries!! Just one update: As this is a 'special' weekend contest, I'm afraid that I can't let the winner pick next week's topic - it has already been chosen by Aliasguru! Of course the winner does get a full post to honor his/her work!

  32. Hey, no concept just playing around with the rules, inside a Cube.
    A screenshot of the used modifiers.
    Post Pro in Blender and fine tuning in Darkktable.

    Have fun!


  33. Fisheye lens + 4 cubes linked in the main file, some cloth simulation, some modifiers .. rendered in Cycles (I have the files if someone is interested, but I have to split it in separate cube files to follow the rules, since I cheated a bit by having all 4 cubes in the main file)

  34. AspiringAnimator on

    So I realized that extruding was not allowed, so I went and made another one. I call it "timey-wimey wormhole." Noise intended for effect. Enjoy!

    • steve cameron on

      5 appended files, 30 modifiers, 0 manipulation of original vertices, all procedural textures, dof and vignette only post pro, Blender Cycles 200 samples

  35. First Test called NanoFiberAttack > 1 Multires 3 Displace + WireShader
    When is the deadline? I have to play more with that stuff :)

  36. Eli Spizzichino on

    It'a cube with skew and wireframe applied
    I'm rendering it from inside but it's taking a long time Posting it as soon as it finish.

  37. Those ancient masks, found in the secret Vatikan museum, where identified by radio isotope mesurements to be the the missing masks from the famous gizee pyramides. They clearly show that the egyptian people had som help building these massive monuments.

    They are all made of one cubes.
    (Ok, the cubes were appended and not linked - but everything cubes)

  38. Thom W. Blair III on

    I was thinking similar challenges could be done with other default objects...(totally far out idea, I know, right?)...but anyway, I was thinking about setting a target for using only 1 default item and produce a given target. I couldn't help but think of the most obvious thing necessary to reproduce first in 3D: Kate Upton. So, just make her as realistically as possible from any of the default objects, using all the same Default Object Rules. What do you think?

    The results could then be archived for future bioprinting projects in Blender. Totally awesome idea, right?!!

    Possible alternative addition to the Default Object Rules: if a Target is given, then the winner is the one who uses the fewest primitives.

    Target Practice: Fewest Primitives Possible
    Target: Kate Upton

  39. Tyler Seacrest on

    With such a fun and interesting challenge this week I decided to take a shot at it. Here is the image. blend file to follow.

  40. Vincent Holzborn on

    Oh my god, how many entries and better how many incredible entries! Sorry but I had no time this WE... good work everyone!

  41. Thom W. Blair III on

    Hey Mike! I was thinking it would be a really cool resource to get people to compile their modifier tricks/hacks as a go-to source for advancing blender users. What do you think?

  42. Hi there, folks

    I could have reused my Vasarely interpretation, but I opted for a somewhat architecture visualisation. As the modifier stack was long, my first try ended in eating up all my RAM, that is why I applied all the modifiers for a render...I hope this is not cheating.

  43. Hey folks, just a quick note that I'll be posting the winner tomorrow morning instead of tonight. I'm super swamped in work right now. That gives everyone another 12 hours to vote :)

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