Augmenting, and Then Reaugmenting, the Icosahedron, with Icosahedra

A reader of this blog, in a comment on the last post here, asked what would happen if each face of an icosahedron were augmented by another icosahedron. I was also asked what the convex hull of such an icosahedron-cluster would be. Here are pictures which answer both questions, in order.

Augmented Icosa with more icosas.gif

Convex hull of icosa augmented with icosas.gif

While the icosahedron augmented by twenty icosahedron forms an unusual non-convex shape, its convex hull is simply a slightly “stretched” version of the truncated dodecahedron, one of the Archimedean solids.

The reader who asked these questions did not ask what would happen if the icosahedron-cluster above were to be augmented, on every face, by yet more icosahedra. However, I got curious about this, myself, and created the answer: the following cluster of even-more numerous icosahedra. This could be called, I suppose, the “reaugmented” icosahedron.

Augmented Icosa with more icosas and then yet more icosas.gif

Finally, here is the convex hull of this even-larger cluster. No one asked for it; I simply got curious.

Convex hull of the reaugmented icosahedral cluster

To accomplish the polyhedron-manipulation and image-creation for this post, I used a program called Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator, which is available at A free trial download is available there, so you can try the software before deciding whether or not to purchase it. 

Augmenting the Dodecahedron with Great Dodecahedra

These two polyhedra are the dodecahedron (left), and the great dodecahedron (right).

Since the faces of both of these polyhedra are regular pentagons, it is possible to augment each of the dodecahedron’s twelve faces with a great dodecahedron. Here is the result.

Augmented Dodeca.gif

I used Stella 4d to make these images. You may try this program for yourself at

Augmenting the Icosahedron with Great Icosahedra

These two polyhedra are the icosahedron (left), and the great icosahedron (right).


Since the faces of both of these polyhedra are equilateral triangles, it is possible to augment each of the icosahedron’s twenty faces with a great icosahedron. Here is the result.

Augmented Icosa with 20 great icosas.gif

I used Stella 4d to make these images. You may try this program for yourself at

Augmenting the Octahedron with Octahedra, Repeatedly.

This is an octahedron.


If you augment each face of an octahedron with more octahedra, you end up with this.

Augmented Octa

One can then augment each triangular face of this with yet more octahedra.

Aug Augmented Octa

Here’s the next iteration:

Aug Aug Augmented Octa

This could, of course, go on forever, but one more step in the series is all you will see here. I don’t want to get caught in an infinite loop.

next aug Octa

Performing various manipulations of polyhedra is easy with Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator, which I used to make all five of these rotating images. If you’d like to try this program for yourself, just check out

The Compound of Five Cubes, Augmented with Thirty Snub Cubes: Three Versions

Cubes 5 augmented by 30 snub cubes

This cluster-polyhedron was made with Stella 4d, software you can try at this website. Above, it is colored by face-type, referring to each face’s position within the overall cluster. In the image below, the original compound of five cubes contained one cube each, of five colors, and then each snub cube “inherited” its color from the cube to which it was attached.

Cubes 5

In the next version, the colors are chosen by the number of sides of each face.

Cubes 5

A Polyhedral Investigation, Starting with an Augmentation of the Truncated Octahedron

If one starts with a central truncated octahedron, leaves its six square faces untouched, and augments its eight hexagonal faces with trianglular cupolae, this is the result.


Seeing this, I did a quick check of its dual, and found it quite interesting:


After seeing this dual, I next created its convex hull.

Convex hull x

After seeing this convex hull, I next creating its dual:  one of several 48-faced polyhedra I have found with two different sets of twenty-four kites as faces, one set in six panels of four kites each, and the other set consisting of eight sets of three kites each. I think of these recurring 48-kite-faced polyhedra as polyhedral expressions of a simple fact of arithmetic: (6)(4) = (8)(3) = 24.


I use Stella 4d (available at to perform these polyhedral transformations. The last one I created in this particular “polyhedral journey” is shown below — but, unfortunately, I cannot recall exactly what I did, to which of the above polyhedra, to create it.


A Cluster of Nine Octahedra, and Related Polyhedra

If one starts with a central octahedron, then augments each of its eight triangular faces with identical octahedra, this is the result.

9 Octahedra

It is then possible to augment each visible triangle of this cluster with yet more octahedra, which produces this result, in which some octahedra overlap each other.

Meta-9 Octahedra

After making this, I wanted to see its convex hull:  the smallest, tightest-fitting convex polyhedron which can contain a given non-convex polyhedron. (I use Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator to perform these manipulations of polyhedra, and this program makes this a fast and easy process. If you’d like to try this software, even as a free trial download, the website to visit is Here’s what this convex hull, which bears a resemblance to the rhombcuboctahedron, looks like.

Convex hull of meta-9-octahedron

Looking for previously-unseen, and interesting, polyhedra, I then starting stellating this convex hull. I did find something interesting — to me, anyway — after only two stellations.

2nd stellation of Convex hull of meta-9-octahedron

That concluded my latest polyhedral investigation, but I certainly don’t intend it to be my last.

An Experiment Involving Augmentation of Octahedra with More Octahedra, Etc.

I’m going to start this experiment with a single octahedron, with faces in two colors, placed so that two faces which share an edge are always of different colors.


Next, I will augment the red faces — and only the red faces — with identical octahedra.


The regions with four blue, adjacent faces look as though they might hold icosahedra — but I checked, and they don’t quite fit. I will therefore continue the same process — augmenting only the red faces with more octahedra of the original type.


I’ve now decided that I definitely like this game, so I’ll keep playing it.


Immediately above, at the fourth of these images, some of the octahedra have started to overlap slightly, but I’m choosing to not be bothered by that — I’m continuing the now-established pattern, just in order to see where it takes me.


The regions of overlap are now far more obvious, but I’m continuing, anyway. Why? Because this is fun, that’s why! Right now, Stella 4d, the program I use to do these polyhedral manipulations, is chugging away on the next one. (This program is avilable at Ah, it’s ready — here it is!


Rather than repeat this process again, I now have another question: what would the convex hull of this figure look like? (A convex hull of a non-convex polyhedron is the smallest convex polyhedron which can contain a given non-convex polyhedron.) With Stella 4d, that’s easily answered.

Convex hull

I must admit this: that was nothing like what I expected — but such unexpected discoveries are a large part of what makes these polyhedral investigations with Stella 4d so much fun. And now, to close this particular polyhedral journey, I will have Stella 4d produce, for me, the dual of the convex hull shown above. (In case you aren’t familiar with duality regarding polyhedra, it describes the relationship between the octahedron, with which this post began, and the familar cube. Basically, with duals, faces and verticies are “flipped” over edges, although that is an extremely informal and imprecise way to describe the at the process.)

dual of Convex hull

And with that, my friends, I bid you good night!

A Polyhedral Journey, Beginning with Face-Based Zonohedrification of an Icosahedron

To begin this, I took an icosahedron, and made a zonish polyhedron with it, with the new faces based on the zones of the existing faces. Here’s the result.

1 face-based zonish icosahedron

Next, I started stellating the polyhedron above. At the sixth stellation, I found this. It’s a true zonohedron, and the first polyhedron shown here is merely “zonish,” because one has triangles, and the other does not. (One of the requirements for a polyhedron to be a zonohedron is that all its faces must have an even number of sides.)

2 6th stellation face-based zonish icosahedronAfter that, I kept stellating, finding this as the 18th stellation of the first polyhedron shown here.

3 18th stellation face-based zonish icosahedron

With this polyhedron, I then made its convex hull.

4 Convex hull of 18th stellation of face-based zonish icosahedronAt this point, the irregular hexagons were bothering me, so I used Stella 4d‘s “try to make faces regular” option. (Stella 4d is polyhedron-manipulation software you can try for free, or purchase, right here.)

5 spring model of convex hull of 18th stellation of face-based icosahedron

The next step I chose was to augment all the yellow trapezoids with prisms, each with a height 1.6 times the trapezoids average edge length.

6 Augmented sping model of convex hull of 18th stellation of FBZI

The next step was, again, to make the convex hull.

7 Convex hull of augmented convex hull

At this point, I tried “try to make faces regular” again, and was pleased with the result. The green rectangles became so thin, however, that I had to stop displaying the edges and vertices, in order for then to be seen.

8 spring model of last oneNext, I augmented both the blue faces (decagons) and the yellow faces (dodecagons) with antiprisms, again using a height 1.6 times that of the augmented faces’ average edge-lengths.

9 Augmented Poly 9th in series

Next, I made the convex hull again — a step I often take immediately after augmenting a polyhedron.

10 Convex hull

This one surprised me, as it is more complicated than I expected. To clean things up a bit, I augmented only the trapezoids (dark pink) with prisms, and dodecagons (green) with antiprisms, again using the factor 1.6 for the augmentation-height.

11 augmented Convex hull

The next step I chose was to take the convex hull, once more. I had not yet noticed that the greater height of the trapezoidal prisms would cause the dodecagonal antiprisms to be “lost” by this step, though.

12 convex hull

Next, “try to make faces regular” was used again.

13 spring model

This last result had me feeling my polyhedral journey was going in circles, so I tried augmentation again, but in a different way. I augmented this polyhedron, using prisms, on only the red trapezoids (height factor, 1.6 again) and the blue rectangles (new height factor, 2.3 times average edge length).

14 augmented spring model

After that, it was time to make another convex hull — and that showed me that I had, indeed, taken a new path.

15 Convex hullI found the most interesting faces of this polyhedron to be the long, isosceles trapezoids, so I augmented them with prisms, ignoring the other faces, using the new height-factor of 2.3 times average edge length this time.

16 augmented Convex hull

Of course, I wanted to see the convex hull of this. Who wouldn’t?

17 Convex hull

I then started to stellate this figure, choosing the 14th stellation as a good place to stop, and making the edges and vertices visible once more.

18 the 14th stellation of the previous Convex hull

A Simulation of Crystalline Growth Using Polyhedral Augmentation

Crystals and crystalline growth have been studied for centuries because of, at least in part, their symmetry. Crystals are cut in such a way as to increase this symmetry even more, because most people find symmetry attractive. However, where does the original symmetry in a crystal come from? Without it, jewelers who cut gemstones would not exist, for the symmetry of crystalline minerals themselves is what gives such professionals the raw materials with which to work.

To understand anything about how crystals grow, one must look at a bit of chemistry. The growth of crystals:

  • Involves very small pieces:  atoms, molecules, ions, and/or polyatomic ions
  • Involves a small set of simple rules for how these small pieces attach to each other

Why small pieces? That’s easy:  we live in a universe where atoms are tiny, compared to anything we can see. Why is the number of rules for combining parts small, though? Well, in some materials, there are, instead, large numbers of ways that atoms, etc., arrange themselves — and when that happens, the result, on the scale we can see, is simply a mess. Keep the number of ways parts can combine extremely limited, though, and it is more likely that the result will possess the symmetry which is the source of the aesthetic appeal of crystals.

This can be modeled, mathematically, by using polyhedral clusters. For example, I can take a tetrahedron, and them augment each of its four faces with a rhombicosidodecahedron. The result is this tetrahedral cluster:


Next, having chosen my building blocks, I need a set of rules for combining them. I choose, for this example, these three:

  1. Only attach one tetrahedral cluster of rhombicosidodechedra to another at triangular faces — and only use those four triangles, one on each rhombicosidodecahedron, which are at the greatest distance from the cluster’s center.
  2. Don’t allow one tetrahedral cluster to overlap another one.
  3. When you add a tetrahedral cluster in one location, also add others which are in identical locations in the overall, growing cluster.

Using these rules, the first augmentation produces this:


That, in turn, leads to this:


Next, after another round of augmentation:


One more:


In nature, of course, far more steps than this are needed to produce a crystal large enough to be visible. Different crystals, of course, have different shapes and symmetries. How can this simulation-method be altered to model different types of crystalline growth? Simple:  use different polyhedra, and/or change the rules you select as augmentation guidelines, and you’ll get a different result.

[Note:  all of these images were created using Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator. This program is available at]