cardandcube #2 (APP in development)


This game is a virtual version of the cardandcube #1 card game. With a bit of imagination, you can create numerous pictures.

The game's motto is “Enjoy your own creativity”. It promises peace and relaxation. You will be amazed at the variety of design options.

The virtual card of cardandcube #2 is identical to the front of the card of Hana Hasilik´s game cardandcube #1:

an inseparable pair of triangles on a square surface. Both rectangular and isosceles, one black and the other white. Tiles with a two-tone pattern of this type were used in France for decorative purposes three or more hundred years ago (Reference No. 3). Earlier, Romans created mosaics with patters based on such squares.

On the screen, the virtual card can be rotated clockwise by 90° by touching or by clicking the mouse. After four clicks, the initial design is back. With a double click, the card rotates in the opposite direction (to the left). The initial card and the results of 1 to 4 clicks look as follows:

In pairs, the first and third (or the second and fourth) image from the left are color exchange symmetrical. One can be converted into the other by turning it through 180°.

The game cardandcube #2 is mobile - you can play alone or with friends and practically anywhere, if you have the Android or iOS version. You can also play in parallel, save and share the results - regardless of whether you are playing on a mobile phone, on a Windows PC, laptop or tablet.


By tapping at the Information button "i", you get an access to Game rules and the card´s introductory performance. You have a choice between English and German languages.

At the beginning this app presents one virtual card on the screen. The card starts to introduce itself as soon as you tap at it. You may stop the introduction and begin to play any time by touching the Play now button. 

The Layout button offers a drop-down menu to choose the number of cards to play with from. You can play, depending on your device, with up to 864 (desk top) or 600 (mobile devices) virtual cards. Any layout presents a grid with squares to be filled with cards one after another by being clicked on or touched. An additional clicking turns the card of choice by 90°. Turning the card affects the combinations of black and white surfaces separating it from or joining it with its neighbours. By these simple means a plethora of black and white patterns can be constructed and enjoyed.

Before starting a new game, you have the option of storing the current picture. In the bottom left corner you can open a menue with these options:

 Save - shows 9 thumbnails of empty or filled files, any of which can be  overwritten with the current game

 Reopen - shows 9 thumbnails of games you have saved earlier and may wish to play with now

 Save as - to save the current game under a specified name on a file of your choice

 Import - to resume a filed or a received game

 Export - to save the image of the curent game as a .png file

Rotating all cards – activation of this button  makes each card to rotate by 90°. From your image you can create three others with a minimum effort.

Recording the moves and time taken: - Both counts start from the first move. Clicking or tapping this option stops the timer; counting continues as soon as a card is touched i.e. a move is made.

Have fun!



The beginning: You might get started as soon as you have seen the free version of the game. Give your imagination free rein! With the following explanations we would like to bring you closer to the possibilities of the game.

We recommend initially using the 2x2 layout. In front of you is an empty playing field that you can gradually fill with 4 cards and rotate them by 90° as many times as you like. We refer to the resulting images as quartets and give them names depending on objects they resemble. 

Symmetry: Among 256 possible card quartets on average every fourth is symmetrical in one way or another. The quartet shown below - we call it arrowhead pointing upwards - is an instance of reflection symmetry or mirror-image symmetry. It has a vertical line of symmetry:

In addition, the upper and the lower halves of this picture are an example of colour exchange symmetry. If you compare the two halves to each other, you see that the white colour is swapped for black and vice versa. On the top you see a white peak in front of black background and at the bottom a black peak in front of white background. 

Do you react differently from the visual stimuli of the quartets depending on their symmetry or asymmetry? If so, you may have preferences in deciding on the orientations of cards and their neighbours.

Humans are not the only beings that do not perceive aesthetic phenomena with indifference [1]. The reception of symmetrical images may be deeply rooted in evolution and related to the prey-hunter recognition [2].

Exercise: Choose the 4x4 layout and build a quartet such as this one

in the lower left quarter. The pattern resembles an open book or a pecking bird. Next, build another quartet above the first one. Imagine building the same pattern turned by 90° clock-wise. (If you imagined a bird in the bottom corner, it will be heading to the left, now. Continue in the same manner building another quartet to fill  the top right quarter and, finally, the bottom right quarter of the 4x4 layout. The quarters added to the first one display patterns that are rotated by  90°, 180° and 270° as compared to it. Have fun!

The result of the exercise is a pattern with a fourfold rotational symmetry. At the beginning of this kind of construction, you may place the chosen quartet into any of the four corners of the 4x4 layout.  Depending on where you start, the result is different from the others. One of the four patterns that can be obtained using the quartet shown above can be viewed here.

You may explore the effects of turning the cards in layouts 2x2 or 4x4 further on. Having assembled a symmetrical pattern, tap each card once. Start at the top left and tap the cards one by one. Conceive of making the pattern and repeat the single taps through the layout.

Build a quartet in any of the four quarters of the 4x4 layout. Construct a mirror image at any free edge. Continue with the mirroring to fill out the remaining half of the layout.

Play: Choose a larger layout for everyday gaming. By turning one or another card you can reshape the picture according to your ideas. You can start with a quartet and turn the cards around until you have realized your design ideas on the entire layout.

Storage: The result can be saved before exiting the app. Caution, without saving, the pattern will be lost as soon as you choose a new layout.

Any pattern you have enjoyed and saved can be modified. You may reopen it. If you rearrange a portion, for example the central quartet of a rotationally symmetrical pattern, you have a choice. Either you discard the new version or you store it and perhaps replace the previous version. 

Photo: On most devices, you can capture any finished pattern that you like in jpeg format using the print screen command. You may use this, if you want to compete with a friend in building a pattern you have agreed on.

Design: With the patterns created with cardandcube, a special effect can be achieved by turning and cutting the image (an example). More about design and applications of virtual geometric cards can be found here.


Decorative arts: The history of our design reaches into medieval and antique periods. In 1704, the Dominican priest, monk, mathematician and graphic artist Sébastien Truchet (1657-1729) reported: „During the last trip that I took to the canal D´Orléans by order of His Royal Highness, in a chåteau called Motte St. Lyé, 4 leagues this side of Orléans, I found several ceramic tiles that were divided by a diagonal line into two colored parts“  [3, 4]. Truchet defined 16 distinct pairs of such tiles that formed beautiful patterns when laid out regularly in varied sequences. In 1722, Father Dominique Douat presented a meticulous mathematical analysis [5] of the possibilities of creating graphic patterns with the tiles that had been reported on by Truchet. Further details on history of the related design can be found at the end of this chapter and with cardandcube #1.

In the 20th century, the original report and the patterns described therein were brought to the attention of art historian Ernst H. Gombrich. In his book The sense of order [6] he described and analysed more than the psychological impact and influence of geometric decorative art on handicrafts and various art forms such as op art. He was impressed by the almost “ad infinitum” permutation of the tiling pattern.

It has not escaped the attention of the art historian that the four orientations used in the square patterns reflect the central phenomenon of biology. He indicated that they could be seen as a symbol of the basic building blocks of the genetic material. There are 64 (43) triplets that allow the transfer of genetic information during protein synthesis and just as many options for placing three cards with the two-coloured triangle pair with varied orientations next to each other. (The number of possible patterns that can be built from more cards is rapidly raising with the number of cards in use.  With the 8x8 layout, the number reaches 464.

Tesselation: Square tiling is one of three regular tiling patterns. The other two are the triangular and hexagonal tilings. In these, defined shapes - squares, equilateral triangles or hexagons - are used in selected designs. With the figure of the triangle pair in a square, the virtual cards and the laying cards from cardandcube offer the option of designing extending white and black polygons. Their regular arrangements are executed by tessellation.

Examples of tessellation with square tiles that are decorated with two isosceles triangles have been described and mathematically analysed by Sébastien Truchet more than three hundred years ago. Now, cardandcube #2 presents this to play with using a pocket device while commuting, waiting a while or just relaxing. Let these applications unleash your creativity and bring you enjoyment.  

From four possible orientations of the tiles, four options for monotonous tiling are emerging. They differ from each other solely by the orientation of the triangle on the tiled surface. It has been pointed to by Truchet that sixteen different "card duos" can be formed from two cards that are joined either horizontally or vertically. Using such duos relatively simple tiling patterns can be designed. There are 16 such duos in cardandcube #2. Possibilities can quickly be explored by placing two cards next to each other and then lining up the same duos repeatedly side by side, placing the same rows flush or offset, or rotated by 180°. 

Tiling with one or more card quartets as units is much more interesting than the use of card duos. Further below you may find ideas, how to use our games to design geometric patterns. Hints help you try the next step on your own.

As mentioned in the preceding chapter, with cardancube #2 you have a choice from 256 quartets. When tiling,  card quartets are placed next to or on top of each other without gaps. Such horizontal or vertical rows of quartets or larger units like 3x3 (card nonets) are repeated next to each other without or with an offset.

In the virtual cardandcube games, all quartets are created from the individual cards. Development of a copy-and-paste process for duplicating and relocating quartets seems not to be a must, because we want you to relax, rather than to hurry. 

The use of card quartets or larger units makes it possible to design an undreamt-of number of geometric patterns through tiling. Regularity and variety expand the possibilities in the arrangement of the tiles, as do the horizontally, vertically or rotationally symmetrical arrangements. A layout can itself be filled with seemingly irregular tiles such as a nonet (or a larger square formation) with an additional card leaning against one corner. 

At this point, two special suggestions are offered: First, card quartets, in which the diagonally adjacent placement cards are in the same orientation, as are the cards i and iii (referred to in scheme b further below) as shown in example a, can be linked diagonally overlapping (scheme j). Furthermore, several chains of this kind can be put together in parallel and interlocked.

Second, if you find a pleasure in a pair of identical card quartets placed side by side or on top of each other, place another 8 virtual cards along the longer edge. If the task is difficult for you, make it easy this way: in the first step you double the pattern along the edge and in the second you swap the colours. This is easily done by turning each card image by 180° (by two clicks each). Use the image with 4x4 cards thus obtained to tile the remaining area of the layout and enjoy the result.

Examples of tiling with card quartets:

a) A common example of a card quartet

This quartet is reminiscent of an open book or a pecking bird. Let us take the letter A as a symbol of the quartet. If this picture is rotated by 90°, it results in a different quartet. We'll symbolize it with the letter A tilted sideways (see scheme g below).

b) Assignment of symbols, i-iv, to the individual cards

c) Parallel arrangement showing a repetition of a card quartet, A, in rows and columns

If you try this arrangement with the 8x8 layout and the quartet example a, you will be surprised. In the finished picture you will hardly be able to find the template! The overall picture will be dominated by merged areas of the same colour.

Due to the subdivision, it is possible to move adjacent rows or columns of quartets by one card's width. The shift can lead to striking changes in the pattern formed at the seams of the rows (compare the scheme in paragraph g.)

d) Alternating arrangement of two different card quartets, A and B

With a little imagination, you can try out numerous variations of the arrangement d on larger layouts. Instead of two, you can “stack” three different quartets, A, B, C on top of each other and fill in the entire format with this formation of an elongated tile. The tiles lying next to each other can be laid either flush in height or offset by one or more cards. If the tiles are in straight stripes next to each other, the horizontal stripes or their quartets can be placed either flush or offset (like in j further below).

e) Vertical parallel arrangement of two different card quartets, A and B

With this arrangement, we recommend designing the card quartet B as the mirror image or colour exchange image of A. Eventually, you can do both: next to card quartet A build its mirror image and then turn each individual card by 180° (that is swap black and white).

f) Anti-parallel arrangement

g) Rotationally symmetrical arrangement of 4 quartets

Initially, a quartet of cards is laid out in the upper left quarter of the 8x8 layout. The next ones follow in a clockwise direction, built up as copies of the first and rotated by 90°, 180° and 270° respectively. The result is an image with 4th order rotational symmetry.

If we start in the upper right quarter of the layout and proceed counter-clockwise, with the quartet images also being rotated again by 90°, etc., we get an image with second-order rotational symmetry.

h) Arrangement of quartets in alternative grids A or X

When considering a tiling in several rows and several columns, a thought grid can be shifting between two alternatives. It may happen that the original card quartets in segments A attract less attention than the unintentionally created quartets in segment X (made of cards around the seam line).

i) Offset of strips of card quartets by one card width 

j) Overlapping diagonal arrangement of card quartets

This arrangement is possible if in a quartet the diagonally adjacent cards, such as cards i and iii in scheme a, are oriented identically. Several diagonal chains constructed according to this principle can be put together in parallel and interlocked with one another.

Try to arrange 4 copies of the rather unprepossessing quartet a according to the pattern shown in g. Use the 4x4 layout and start in the upper left quarter. The correct result is shown here:

You can start with the same quartet at the bottom left corner of the 4x4 layout. The results will differ from each other.

Make a discovery. Open the 8x8 layout. Build a non-symmetrical quartet in the upper right corner. Follow the instructions under scheme g and create a  two-fold rotationally symmetrical image. Copy the finished square into the free quarter in the top left. Your construction contains a pair of two-fold rotationally symmetrical patterns. Can you find a four-fold rotationally symmetrical pattern in it?

The character of the rotationally symmetrical images can be changed considerably by rearranging the central quartet. The symmetry of the whole is retained if you rotate the images of a group of cards by 90° or several times, as long as the contours of the group itself are rotationally symmetrical. If you want to try changes and don't want to lose an image that you think is beautiful, save it.

You can also play with larger patterns by using the four-pronged spiral previously shown as a template. Open the 8x8 layout and build two of these templates into the lower and upper left quarters. Place the next copy of the template at any height in the blank area on the right and fill in the remaining area as if the tiles were shifted through the width of one or more cards.

Finally, you can work with even larger layouts as long as the cards aren't too small to play with. Create the four-pointed spiral in the centre or anywhere on the edge of the selected format. Now place cards on the free edges of the copy to extend the white and black ribbons and fold them around each other as long as there is room. You will be amazed at the results. If this game takes longer than expected, please save the picture so you can continue later.

Examples: cardandcube #2 is a tool for your own design creations. Next, you can see a few examples out of the trillions of possible:

Create the panel-like image above by tessellating 4x4 card tile groups. Several different variations of 4x4 card tile groups can be used in this way. Rotate the whole layout by 45° and crop back to a rectangle to create a dramatic transformation in the look of this card tile group. See an example of this here.

Create fresh patterns by rotating all cards by 90°: cardandcube #2 has a particular tool for this (the icon is: ) which rotates all cards individually by 90°. Tapping this icon twice results in individually rotating all the cards 180°. This creates a version of the original pattern where the colours have been swapped. Tapping four times makes the original pattern reappear.

The illustrations below demonstrate this on one of the 4x4 units of tessellation previously mentioned.

It is an example of two-fold rotational symmetry.

After individually rotating all the cards, the symmetry of the pattern is still there. However, repeating these 90° rotations results in an alternation between reflectional and colour-swap reflectional symmetries. This is true in respect to orthogonal and to diagonal reflection planes as well. After each 90° rotation of the cards within this particular tile the reflection planes rotate by 45°.

The first and the third as well as the second and the fourth picture panel each form a colour-swapping symmetrical pair.

Ambiguous pictures: On the internet we may find many ambiguous images. An example is the Necker cube that is known since 1832. There are also examples of ambiguous images for cardandcube #2. It can be pictures that are created by tiling with certain mirror or diagonally symmetrical quartets.

Open the 8x8 layout and build a quartet resembling hourglass using 4 cards in one of the quarters. Expand the picture further according to scheme g. Enjoy your first ambiguous image from cardandcube.

Take another quartet that may be called "inclined hourglass":

Select the 4x4 layout and fill it in with 4 quartets of this type according to the principle of the diagram g shown above. You get a four-fold symmetrical image. However, if you lay out the same quartet linearly - according to scheme c - you will be amazed: an ambiguous image will appear in front of you.

The resulting pattern can be perceived as ambiguous. What we see depends on how we look at it. Certain perceived image motifs are repeated in diagonal, others in orthogonal (vertically and horizontally arranged) grids.

Let us consider the present quartet as a combination of two vertical card duos as shown in scheme b: on the left side card i above card iv and on the right card ii above card iii. Now we move the right card duo to the left side of the other. In both cases, before and after the swap, we have striking symmetrical images. If the two card duos are lined up repetitively along a horizontal line, the interpretation of the image is bistable. Typical of these ambiguous patterns is the appearance of familiar symbols or regularities along the horizontal or vertical lines and at the same time along the diagonals (in the present example the “inclined hourglasses”).

Of course, a "standing hourglass" can also be created from 4 cards (support). This is twice as big as the "inclined hourglass" because its funnel-shaped parts consist of two triangles: two black or two white. The quartets with black and white hourglasses placed next to each other according to scheme d give an ambiguous picture, as described in the following paragraph.

Marburg's ambiguous pictures:

Ambiguous pictures on the ornamental floor in the sacristy of the palace chapel and in the sacristy of the Elisabeth church in Marburg. The illustration shows A) a preserved part of the decorative floor in the sacristy of the Marburg palace chapel. B) The corresponding geometric pattern, created with cardandcube #2P. The yellow frame in A and B enhances the identity of the two patterns. C) Another part of the decorative floor of the sacristy of the palace chapel. We would like to thank the Museum für Kulturgeschichte of the Philipps University of Marburg for the permission to show detailed photos of the decorative floor of the sacristy of the palace chapel (A and C). D) A replica of pattern A in the sacristy of the Elisabeth church. We thank the Ev. Elisabethkirchengemeinde Marburg for permission to publish this detailed picture. 

In Marburg's Elisabeth Church there are several floor decorations, the design of which is based on two-tone, diagonally divided squares. Under the shrine of St. Elisabeth in the sacristy, the decorative floor is particularly attractive. In its reconstructed part there is a remarkable pattern of black and yellowish triangular tiles. The interpretation of the visual perception of the pattern changes (tilts) between several alternatives. The repetitive motifs of the decorative base appear either as a wind turbine (propeller), which can appear in different overlapping grids, or as an hourglass image. These structures sometimes appear black on a light background, sometimes light on black. The model of the pattern goes back to antiquity. It has been found in Cassa delle nozze d`argento in Pompeii)

According to Karl Justi [6, p. 21], the floor of the castle chapel and its sacristy, originally laid with stone, was covered with a "uniquely artistic clay tile mosaic" in the early 14th century. The renovation was arranged by the Münster bishop Ludwig II, for whom the "simple flooring was not enough". He was a great-grandson of Elisabeth of Thuringia and half-brother of the Marburg Landgrave Otto. After 1311 he owned Marburg. It is therefore likely that at least parts of the decorative floors preserved in the castle are 700 years old.

Marburg´s ambiguous patterns consist of diagonally divided two-tone squares, which in turn were created from triangular black and yellow glazed triangular tiles. The two-tone square tiles described by Truchet in 1704 [3] were not available to the Marburg tilers. The ceramic floors of the older St. Viktor Church in Xanten [7, Fig. 67] and some Roman mosaics in Cologne [7, Fig. 269] could have served as models for their patterns. Instead of stone, more modern and cheaper (unfortunately also less durable) glazed triangular tiles were used, the production method of which came to us from Flanders.

Mathematics: Patterns that can be built up according to simple rules are called rule-based pictures. Algorithms and their efficiency have been studied in depth by mathematicians, so has logic and recursion. Both of these are eminently suited to establishing  rule-based pictures. A demonstration program that includes Truchet tiles was developed by Eric W. Weisstein [8].

Regarding the interest of mathematics in the findings of S. Truchet and the possibility of designing 3D tiling analogous to his patterns, we refer to an article by E.A. Lord and S. Ranganathan and the original work annotated there [9].

Inspiration and joy: Parquetting with cardandcube #2 may inspire those who love, organize and maintain order as well as others who are always looking for something new and who like to place elements of asymmetry around themselves or who are able to gain something positive from any disorder. The spice lies between the extremes, as stated by the art historian E.H. Gombrich his elegant way: „we must ultimately be able to account for the most basic fact of aesthetic experience, the fact that delight lies somewhere between boredom and confusion” [10, p.9].


  1. Mukherjee, R. und Kodandaramaiah, U. (2015): What makes eyespots intimidating - The importance of pairedness. MC Evol Biol  2015, 15:34.
  2. Anderson, J.R. et al. (2005): Are Monkeys Aesthetists? Rensch (1957) Revisited.  J Exper Psychol Animal Behav Processes 31:71-80
  3. Truchet, S. (1704): Memoir sur les Combinaisons. Memoires de l´ Académie Royale des Sciences, 363-372
  4. Smith, C.S. und Boucher, P. (1987): The Tiling Patterns of Sébastien Truchet and the Topology of Structural Hierarchy. Leonardo 20, 373-385
  5. Douat, D. (1722): Méthode pour faire une infinité de Desseins différents avec des Carreaux mi- partis de deux Couleurs par une Ligne diagonale, ou Observations du Pere Dominique Douat Religieux Carme de la Province du Toulouse, Sur un Mémoire inseré dans l´Histoire de l´Académie Royale des Sciences de Paris l´année 1704, présenté par le Reverend Pere Sébastien Truchet, Religieux du même Ordre, Académicien honoraire. Paris
  6. Justi, K.: Das Marburger Schloss. Geschichte einer deutschen Burg. Veröffentlichungen der Historischen Kommission für Hessen und Waldeck XXI. N.G. Elwertsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Marburg 1942
  7. Kier, H. (1970): Der mittelalterliche Schmuckboden. Rheinland Verlag, Düsseldorf
  8. Weisstein, Eric W."Truchet Tiling." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.
  9. Lord, E.A. und Ranganathan, S. (2006): Truchet tilings and their generalisations. Resonance, June 2006, 42-50 
  10. Gombrich, E.H. (1994): The sense of order. A study in the psychology of decorative Art. 2nd ed. Phaidon Press Ltd., London

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