Solving a 4×4 is a challenging but fun puzzle to solve, especially if you have already solved the 3×3.  If you haven’t solved the 3×3 yet or don’t know how to solve it, read my tutorial on How To Solve The 3×3 before moving to this tutorial.

The 4×4 is a step up from the 3×3 which means that there is an extra layer of difficulty that you have to wrap your head around.  One such challenge is that there is an even amount of layers which means no center.  The center of odd numbered cubes have a center, but even numbered cubes require you to establish the centers.

If you look at a 3×3, there is a distinct way of how the colors are arranged.  If you look at the corners, you can make a mental note of a clockwise color direction.  I look at it with a white, blue, and red going in a clockwise direction.  Then you just look at the opposite colors of white-yellow, red-orange, and blue-green.  When you get that idea established, then it’s much easier going forward.

Now there are many ways to solve the 4×4, but the most popular solution is the reduction method.  The reduction method involves combining the center and edges pieces to make it look like a larger 3×3.  Then it’s pretty smooth sailing from there.

With all of that introduction finished, let us begin!

White Center

Our first step is to create all the center pieces within the 2×2 blocks that are located in the middle of the cube.  There is nothing else that you will be looking at, so just focus on what you see within those 2×2 middle blocks.  You can decide on what center you would like to start with.  I typically start with white so that is what we will use for this tutorial.

As there is no white center, we will need to decide where we want to put our own white center.  It won’t matter where you put your first white center as you will be building around that.  My recommendation is to find a side that either has a 2×1 white block or a white piece on adjacent corners.

creating-white-2x1-2

If you find a 2×1 block, awesome!  If they are adjacent, then it will be super easy to create a 2×1 block, but that is where we want to start.  If you have neither, then just follow along and you will be up to speed.

Find one white piece that you want to start out with and then match it up with another white piece that you see lying around the cube.  Turn the sides that the white pieces are on so you can successfully line them up for a 2×1 block, and then move them together for the final results.

creating-white-centers-2

Now the next trick is to create the other 2×1 white block on another side and then combine the two blocks together to create a full 2×2 white center block.  We will continue this process with all of the other centers, but without messing up all the other centers.

Yellow Center

The yellow center is not unlike the white center on how we solve it.  The only thing is that we have to make sure that it is on the opposite side of the cube.  It would be a bit difficult if the center pieces were not in their correct locations.

creating-yellow-centerTo do this, you must first get one 2×1 block like we did earlier for the white center but with yellow pieces. Also, be sure not to affect the white center.  When you need to alter the white center, make sure that you place it right back where it originally was.  You’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

When you need to place the yellow on the top without messing up the white center, put your two 2×1 blocks on the same side.  Whichever side you have it on, lift that side up and rotate the top piece twice.  Once that’s done, bring the same side back down.  You will have your yellow center done.

Rest Of The Centers

Using the same principles for the white and yellow centers, we will be completing the rest of the center pieces all around the cube.  The only thing you need to be aware of during this process is not mixing up the center locations.  You cannot have red and orange next to each other; and you can’t have orange, yellow, and green going in a clockwise direction (they have to be in a counterclockwise direction for example.)

creating-blue-center-2Find a clockwise color scheme that you can follow and work your cube around that.  You’ll figure it out quickly and easily once you’ve practiced for some time.  I could show you some algorithms, but this section is much easier when it can be intuitively solved.  Give it some time, and look at some examples to help you through the process.

finishing-the-last-two-centers

When you have all of the centers grouped together, do a look over to make sure that they are put in the correct order before you move on to the next step.

Pairing Up The Edges

Matching the edges is made up of mostly setting up and a small amount of execution.  The reason being is that we work around the centers so they can stay intact.  Much like any beginner method, there are faster ways to solve each step, so look those up once you get this part down.  They work hand in hand.

We are pairing up the 2×1 edges that are in between the corners to finalize the reduction method of the cube.  To start, you need to look for any two edge blocks that have the same color.  They are the only two that will work with each other as each edge block has a twin (because it a 4×4.)

setting-up-the-pairs

Now we need to arrange those two edge pieces where they are opposite of each other in the same layer.  You want to do all of this with just turning the outer layers and not mess up the center or you will more than likely have to start all over again.

The easiest and simplest method is to have the two edge pieces lined up on the same row.  It does not matter if they are on the top-middle row or the bottom-middle row.  As long as they are on the same line, you are ready for the algorithm.

With both edge pieces on opposite ends facing you, perform the algorithm:

(u’ (R, U, R’, U’) (F’, U , F) u)

pairing-two-edges-2

If you want to, I rotate mine halfway through the algorithm and it looks something like this:

(u’ (R, U, R’, U’) y (L’, U, L) u)

pairing-two-edges

You can continue this process with all of the other pieces by doing the same setup and algorithm with each scenario.  You will reach a point where you have only two edges to pair up, and they will be on the other’s edge piece.  Just do the same algorithm, and they will pair up with their counterpart.

pairing-last-two-edges

Solve Like A 3×3

This is where it is a good idea to know how to solve a 3×3 as we now have the 4×4 looking like a larger 3×3.  Everything will be identical so you won’t have to learn anything new from this point on.  If you need a refresher or would like to learn how to solve the 3×3, check out my tutorial on how to solve the 3×3.

Parity Errors

You will more than likely run across two different errors that have to deal with the parity.  This happens because we are dealing with a puzzle that is larger than a 3×3 and it is an even-numbered cube.  You will encounter these every so often from here on out so it’s a good idea to have these memorized for larger cubes.

One parity that you’ll find is when you reach the yellow cross.  You’ll either see the center and one yellow edge facing up, or you’ll find three yellow edges.  Both of which are incorrect as it would be an impossible scenario in a 3×3.  We’re going to fix it with an algorithm.

(r2, B2, U2, l, U2, r’, U2, r, U2, F2, r, F2, l’, B2, r2)

yellow-cross-parity-error

It is not the easiest algorithm to learn, but it will be crucial for every other larger cube.  You’ll want to have this one down pretty well.

The next and last parity error comes when the permutation is off.  You’ll have what would be impossible on a 3×3 (again which is why it’s a parity error.)  When you have two edges that need to be exactly opposite of each other for the 4×4 to be complete.  This is a much simpler algorithm and it will only apply for all of your even cubes 4×4 and up.

(r2, R2, U2) (r2, R2, u2) (r2, R2, u2, U2)

permutation-parity-error

And there you have it!  A fully solved 4×4!  With as few algorithms to solve the 4×4, you are on your way to becoming a cubing master.  I will be posting some advanced tutorials in the future, but for now, you can say you know how to solve the 4×4.

How did this tutorial help you?  Let me know in the comments below!