Step 1

The goal of step 1 is to build the structure shown above. At first, this may seem a little overwhelming for a first step, but it is actually divided into several smaller subgoals. In each subgoal, you build up a block and attach it to what you've already done in a way that causes minimal obstruction. This idea is based on the Petrus method, with the difference that the subgoals are not strictly defined. You just build whatever blocks you see, regardless of what sort of blocks they are.

First, let's look at the various primitive building blocks that are useful to make:

The corner/edge pair is one of the most important building blocks. Although it only consists of two pieces, it can be quite difficult to build. When you see a corner/edge pair already formed, try to preserve it and make use of it.

Centre/edge pairs are just as useful as corner/edge pairs, only they are much easier to build, so we do not have to worry about them as much. Centre/edge pairs occur naturally quite often, and it is only a matter of preserving them.

If you are fortunate enough to have a corner/edge pair, the first thing you should do with it is join it with a centre/edge pair to form a square. The square is the most useful building block in step 1 because of its regular shape. This step is typically formed by building square after square and attaching it to what you have already done (more on this below).

Sometimes the opportunity arises to easily extend a square with another corner/edge pair to form a rectangle. Being larger than a square, the rectangle tends to get in the way of things, and so typically the first thing you should do after forming one is to join that same newly added corner/edge pair with its own center/edge pair, without breaking the rectangle you just formed. This should result in two squares joined together at right angles

As mentioned, step 1 is typically built from three squares. Well... almost. If you add up the number of pieces that make up three squares, the structure would be missing one piece. An extra edge piece, placed between its two centres, is required to complete the structure.

The extra edge piece, described above, is often joined with the first square to form a 2x2x2 cube. Another way to build a 2x2x2 cube is to insert two edges between their centres, and add the final corner/edge pair.

Building in squares

The key to step 1 is learning how to build squares efficiently. Click here for examples.

The critical ingredient is the corner/edge pair, and it is best to preserve existing pairs wherever possible, so that they can be used later in the formation of squares. Once you know how to build squares efficiently, the simplest way to form step 1 is as follows:

Edge1st Square2nd Square3rd Square

Note, however, that it is generally more efficient to reverse the order of the first two goals.

As each new square is formed, it is always attached to the existing structure in the best fit possible, so as not to obstruct further movement of pieces. This may seem to limit which corner/edge pairs you can make use of at each step, whereas we would ideally like to make use of any corner/edge pair that we find. Consider the free standing corner/edge pair in the following example:

This corner/edge pair cannot form part of any square that fits in perfectly with the existing structure.
Here is what such a square would look like. In this correctly placed position, it obstructs further movement of pieces. How can we make use of such a square?
The best thing to do in this situation is to store it in the "best fit" position anyway, even though the colours don't match.
At the end of step 1, the squares can be rotated to their correct positions. Press the play button to see this in animation.

So, when adding a square, the colours do not have to line up. There are four options:

The fourth option is the most difficult to deal with because when the added square is rotated to its correct position, it will not really form part of the step 1 structure. However, we can still make use of it, by leaving it where it is. At the end of the final step (step 4) we can rotate the side containing that square to its correct position.

Thus, when you finish step 1, there are four variations that are easy to proceed with:

I will let you figure out how to arrive at these positions. From here on, if you arrived at one of the last three positions, you need to be aware of the opposite colours on your cube. For example, when orienting edges in step 2, look for both red and orange edges. In step 3, it shouldn't matter since the last layer edge permutation will look exactly the same. In step 4, patterns can be recognised by method of identifying opposite colours.

Building in rectangles

Sometimes a corner/edge pair can best be put to use by adding it to an existing square to form a rectangle, rather than using it to form a new square.
The green square has been put into its "best fit" position, although, without matching colours. The free standing corner/edge pair is in a convenient position to join with the green square to form a rectangle. Click the play button to view the procedure.
Fortunately there are efficient ways to insert the remaining edge after the corner/edge pair is already in place. Click the play button once more to see the edge inserted.

Orienting edges early during step 1

It is possible to partially or fully orient edges at any stage during step 1. If you orient the edges during step 1, this makes step 2 easier. I often orient edges when I can't find anything else to do in the short amount of time I have at each stage (for example, if most pieces are in a bad position). After I do the orientation, I then reexamine the situation and hope for a better arrangement of pieces.