Various Views of Three Different Polyhedral Compounds: Those of (1) Five Cuboctahedra, (2) Five of Its Dual, the Rhombic Dodecahedron, and (3) Ten Components — Five Each, of Both Polyhedra.

Polyhedral compounds differ in the amount of effort needed to understand their internal structure, as well as the way the compounds’ components are assembled, relative to each other. This compound, the compound of five cuboctahedra, and those related to it, offer challenges not offered by all polyhedral compounds, especially those which are well-known.


The image above (made with Stella 4d, as are others in this post — software available here) is colored in the traditional style for compounds: each of the five cuboctahedra is assigned a color of its own. There’s a problem with this, however, and it is related to the triangular faces, due to the fact that these faces appear in coplanar pairs, each from a different component of the compound.


The yellow regions above are from a triangular face of the yellow component, while the blue regions are from a blue triangular face. The equilateral triangle in the center, being part of both the yellow and blue components, must be assigned a “compromise color” — in this case, green. The necessity of such compromise-colors can make understanding the compound by examination of an image more difficult than it with with, say, the compound of five cubes (not shown, but you can see it here, if you wish). Therefore, I decided to look at this another way: coloring each face of the five-cuboctahedra compound by face type, instead of by component.


Another helpful view may be created by simply hiding all the faces, revealing internal structure which was previously obscured.


Since the dual of the cuboctahedron is the rhombic dodecahedron, the dual of the compound above is the compound of five rhombic dodecahedra, shown, first, colored by giving each component a different color.

RD 5 colored by component

A problem with this view is that most of what’s “going on” (in the way the compound is assembled) cannot be seen — it’s hidden inside the figure. An option which helped above (with the five-cuboctahedra compound), coloring by face type, is not nearly as helpful here:

RD 5 colored by face type

Why wasn’t it helpful? Simple: all sixty faces are of the same type. It can be made more attractive by putting Stella 4d into “rainbow color” mode, but I cannot claim that helps with comprehension of the compound.

RD 5 colored rainbow

With this compound, what’s really needed is a “ball-and-stick” model, with the faces hidden to reveal the compound’s inner structure.

RD 5 colored hollow

Since the two five-part compounds above are duals, they can also be combined to form a ten-part compound: that of five cuboctahedra and five rhombic dodecahedra. In the first image below, each of the ten components is assigned its own color.

Compound of 5 Cuboctahedra and dual colored by component

In this ten-part compound, the coloring-problem caused in the first image in this post, coplanar and overlapping triangles of different colors, vanishes, for those regions of overlap are hidden in the ten-part compound’s interior. This is one reason why this coloring-scheme is the one I find the most helpful, for this ten-part compound (unlike the two five-part compounds above). However, so that readers may make this choice for themselves, two other versions are shown below, starting with coloring by face type.

Compound of 5 Cuboctahedra and dual colored by face typet

Finally, the hollow version of this ten-part compound. This is only a personal opinion, but I do not find this image quite as helpful as was the case with the five-part compounds described above.

Compound of 5 Cuboctahedra and dual colored rainbow

Which of these images do you find most illuminating? As always, comments are welcome.

A Gallery of Polyhedra Which Feature Five-Pointed Star-Patterns


A Gallery of Polyhedra Which Feature Five-Pointed Star-Patterns

The images below may each be enlarged with a single click.

Conjdhfcvex hull dualConvehgdsfx hullConvex fdghullConvex hjgfyullConvex hjgfyull dualConvex nbhull dualConvhgdjyex hullDggual of Convex hullDual jhdfgjfjof Convex hulldual of Stellated Faceted DualFaceted Congfvex hullFaceted Stellated PolyFaceted Stellategggd PolyStellated cxsadfgdDual of Convex hullStellated Faceted DualConvex hull q

I made these using Stella 4d, which you can find at

By Request: The Compound of Five Rhombic Dodecahedra, with Nets


By Request:  The Compound of Five Rhombic Dodecahedra, with Nets

I’ve been asked by a reader of this blog to post nets for this polyhedral compound. Printing nets with Stella 4d is easy, and I’m happy to post them here, in response to that request. Warning, though: there are many nets needed for this compound.

Each of these smaller images may be enlarged with a single click.

Cuboctahedra 5 net one

Here’s the first net type needed (above). You’ll need thirty copies of this net. The gray parts show, and the white parts are tabs to help put it together. Below is the second type needed, of which you need sixty copies.

Cuboctahedra 5 net two

There’s also a third type of net, and these last two types may need to be rescaled before you print them, to fit the net of the first type, also. You’ll need sixty copies of this third net (below) as well, It’s the mirror-image of the net of the second type.

Cuboctahedra 5

Finally, here’s a non-rotating image of the completed polyhedron, to help with the construction:

Cuboctahedra 5

I recommend using card stock or posterboard, and trying to get as much tape as possible on the inside of the model, making an uncolored version — and then painting it with five different colors of your choice, after the model is assembled. Happy building!

[Software credit:  I used Stella 4d:  Polyhedron Navigator to create all these images. It’s available at Downloading and trying a trial version is free, but you have to buy the fully-functioning version to print nets, or to make these rotating .gif files I post all over this blog.]